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New hens to the flock.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Lillyanna, Dec 14, 2015.

  1. Lillyanna

    Lillyanna Out Of The Brooder

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    We introduced 3 new hens to the flock approximately 6 weeks ago. They started in a brooder box in the coop for several weeks. Last week they were put into the coop with the other 10 girls. There is plenty of perches, but for the last 5 days, they perched on the outside of the coop in the secured run. There is still some pecking order going on and they have a safe area in the run. I have even put them in the coop after dark and found them back out in the run several hours later. They are 13 weeks old and I am not sure, but assume this will cause issues when they start laying. The other 10 are about 9 months old. I was thinking about making a door on the coop to keep them out of the run at night, but worry what kind of a feathery mess I may find in the morning. Has anyone come across this? If so any solutions?
     
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Typical integration issues,
    the existing birds do not want to share their space and resources(food/water) with the new birds.

    The new birds need a safe place in the coop too....
    .....or if it's warm enough and the run is truly secure, they could sleep out there.
    ...or just wait and eventually they will work their way into a place to roost in the coop, if you have enough roost length.

    I put up a separate and slightly lower roost for new birds.
    A foot of roost length per bird is best. Yes, they can fit/sleep on less but need the extra space to get settled.....
    ....roosting time is often contentious even in a well balances and acclimated flock.

    Lots of space, multiple feed/water stations, places to hide 'out of line of sight' (but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from aggressors all help during integration.

    Actually once the younger ones start laying, they will become more a part of the flock,
    but may always remain somewhat of a separate 'sub-flock'.

    Looked at your coop/run, it's very nice but may be a tight fit for 13 birds.
    Would you post a pic of the inside?
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Lillyanna

    Lillyanna Out Of The Brooder

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    I added 8x4 foot of additional run prior to adding the new birds. The coop has four 3' and two 4' roosting bars inside. I did add additional water and food stations too. They do seem to be venturing out of the secure area more. Hopefully once they start laying they will be more accepted. In the beginning, we needed to remove a red sexlink for a few days to disrupt the pecking order and she was being too aggressive. That did seem to help. Thank you for your help.
     
  4. Lillyanna

    Lillyanna Out Of The Brooder

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    May 3, 2015
    South Jersey
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I agree it is typical. I’m going through about the same thing right now with similar aged chickens. They were raised in a brooder in the coop then moved to a grow-out coop and run next to the adults. They’ve been roaming with the adults during the day for over a month but now that I put a bunch of older cockerels in the freezer I have room in my main coop.

    The young ones are afraid of the older ones. The pullets will stay that way until they mature enough to force their way into the pecking order. That’s normally about when they start to lay. Don’t worry about laying issues. Usually the older hens will show the younger ones how to manage that. You may still find eggs dropped in strange places when they first start to lay but I find fewer laying problems with pullets when there are also older hens laying in the flock.

    Who knows when or how the cockerels will fit in? There is so much going on with cockerels when they hit puberty it’s hard to predict details. The old rooster should keep things from getting out of hand until they are ready to go to the freezer.

    As long as they have a safe place to sleep it doesn’t matter that much where it is. If you want them to sleep in the main coop, lock them inside after dark so they can’t get out until you let them. They’ll get the message as long as you are consistent. But lock them, don’t just put them in there.

    It sounds like you may have some light down there at night. I find them to be calmer at night if it is darker, especially inside the coop.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. showinbirds

    showinbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    they will get use to the new home.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. Lillyanna

    Lillyanna Out Of The Brooder

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    Should I be concerned about the outside temperature until the new girls figure out to sleep in the coop?
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Where are you located? What kind of outside temperatures are you talking about? Cold is usually not the problem but wind can be. That’s why they might need to be inside the coop, for wind protection when it is cold. If we knew how cold your coldest nights get we may be able to come up with suggestions or alternatives. Putting your general location in your signature can help a lot with this type of question.

    I’m wondering if you can build something in the run to protect from wind when they are roosting until they mature enough to be able to roost with the older ones. My thoughts are either a hover or a separate but simple coop just for sleeping.

    If you lock them in the coop section at night, they won’t be sleeping in the run. I found on another thread where you said your coop was 5’ x 6’. That is pretty tight for 13 birds, especially when you are integrating. 5’ x 6’ doesn’t give you a lot of room, but make sure they have plenty of roosting area, spread out enough that the older ones can’t bully the new ones on the roost. Like Aart, I use a separate roost, a little lower than the main roost, higher than the nests, and separated horizontally to give the younger ones a safe place to sleep that is not the nests. For three pullets you don’t need a lot but in a 5x6 coop you don’t have a lot.

    They have been together for about a week and a half so they should be pretty well integrated. That means the older ones accept them as members of the flock and should not go out of their way to attack them. But they will have pecking order issues until they mature enough to force their way into the main flock, which should be somewhere around the time they start laying. Until then, the new ones will rank below the others. They will be afraid of the older ones for a good reason. If they invade the personal space of an older hen they are likely to get pecked. That’s why they sort of form a separate flock, they are avoiding the bullies as best they can. The exact same thing happens when a broody hen raises chicks in the flock. She will protect them until they are integrated but once they are weaned they go through the same pecking order issues. If you do decide to lock them in the coop section at night, I suggest you be down there to open that pop door before they wake up until you are confident there will not be a feathery mess. I do the same thing. It usually doesn’t take me long to get that comfort level. When I go down there after they wake up I usually find the younger ones on the roosts while the older are on the floor. The younger ones are avoiding the older by going up on the roosts.

    While searching for your coop size, I saw where you are or were providing a solar powered light on a timer as it gets dark. That can help teach chickens to roost in the coop, but I suggest you turn that off and see if the older ones will go in on their own now. With that window you should not need it. I have observed that the younger chicks that are being integrated are usually the last ones to go in the coop. They are avoiding the bullies as long as they can. With that light on the bullies can see them better and may not have settled down as much as they need to. It will still probably take you a while to get the young ones to go in on their own but if you are consistent it can happen.

    You should be able to manage this but don’t get any more chickens unless you build a much bigger facility. Please.

    Good luck!
     
    2 people like this.
  9. Lillyanna

    Lillyanna Out Of The Brooder

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    I will kill the light as you suggested. I know about adding more that I was getting very close to our maximum occupancy! I would love to build a bigger one, but probably should not have the one I have in our town. I plan on building a nice large coop when I retire, hopefully in Virginia in about 10 years! Thank you again for the help.
     
  10. Lillyanna

    Lillyanna Out Of The Brooder

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    May 3, 2015
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    Well after a month of moving them each night into the coop, tonight they were all in there mixed among the older birds. Thanks for the help!
     

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