Older hens joining younger existing flock?

tree_tyger

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Apr 4, 2021
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Simi Valley, California
So I've done a lot of research about integrating new birds into an existing flock but it always seems to be about managing younger birds that are being introduced to an older flock. We're in the opposite situation right now. Will be adding 6 one year old laying hens to our existing mixed breed/sex flock of 14 that are also 14 weeks old and quite large at this point. Our plan was to quarantine nearby the coop/run for a week and then let them free range, all together, later in the day. They are coming with their own coop, so we also thought we'd place them in the big coop (108 sq ft) with our original flock at night so they will wake up together the next morning after the quarantine. Any advice, suggestions are welcome!
 

aart

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They are coming with their own coop, so we also thought we'd place them in the big coop (108 sq ft) with our original flock at night so they will wake up together the next morning after the quarantine.
That might work, but usually does not.

Consider biological/medical quarantine:
BYC Medical Quarantine Article
 

Ridgerunner

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Will be adding 6 one year old laying hens to our existing mixed breed/sex flock of 14 that are also 14 weeks old and quite large at this point.
From what I've seen size is not very important. I've never seen an immature pullet stand up to a mature hen regardless of either's size. It's not the size of the chicken in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the chicken. In those circumstances there is no fight in my immature pullets, they just run away if there is any conflict. It sounds like you have a cockerel or two. There is no telling how those will interact.

Our plan was to quarantine nearby the coop/run for a week
That's not much of a quarantine. Diseases and parasites can spread by them eating or drinking from the same dish, from them pecking in the area where another has pooped, spread by insects such as mosquitoes, grasshoppers, or grubs, or even spread by the wind. You can spread diseases or parasites on your shoes if you walk between areas. The further you can keep them separated the better your quarantine. Most of us don't have the room or outbuildings to do that effectively. Some is better than none, at least it protects against a few things. The typical recommended quarantine period is 4 weeks. Some diseases take that long to show effects.

and then let them free range, all together,
I like this. When you first let them together, this gives them the most space so they can get away from each other or just avoid each other. I do something like this with my chicks, I let them roam together during the day and sleep separately at night until I'm sure they are not going to try to kill each other while ranging. With my set-up a month is convenient but that's probably overkill.

we also thought we'd place them in the big coop (108 sq ft) with our original flock at night so they will wake up together the next morning after the quarantine.
As Aart said, sometimes that works and sometime it doesn't. Often these integrations go a lot easier than we make them sound, especially if you have a lot of room. A lot of old-timers just dump new chicks or chickens off with the free ranging flock and it works out. They may be OK with them sleeping in trees but at least they are not killing each other.

When I move my chicks into the main coop with the adults I move them in at night after it is dark so they wake up together. But I don't do that until they have roamed together outside for a few weeks so they re not strangers. When I do that I'm down there when they wake up at daybreak to open the pop door and let them out until I'm sure it's not a problem. With mine that's usually one or two early trips down there, it's practically never a problem. But I still do it, just in case.
 

tree_tyger

Chirping
Apr 4, 2021
38
56
51
Simi Valley, California
From what I've seen size is not very important. I've never seen an immature pullet stand up to a mature hen regardless of either's size. It's not the size of the chicken in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the chicken. In those circumstances there is no fight in my immature pullets, they just run away if there is any conflict. It sounds like you have a cockerel or two. There is no telling how those will interact.


That's not much of a quarantine. Diseases and parasites can spread by them eating or drinking from the same dish, from them pecking in the area where another has pooped, spread by insects such as mosquitoes, grasshoppers, or grubs, or even spread by the wind. You can spread diseases or parasites on your shoes if you walk between areas. The further you can keep them separated the better your quarantine. Most of us don't have the room or outbuildings to do that effectively. Some is better than none, at least it protects against a few things. The typical recommended quarantine period is 4 weeks. Some diseases take that long to show effects.


I like this. When you first let them together, this gives them the most space so they can get away from each other or just avoid each other. I do something like this with my chicks, I let them roam together during the day and sleep separately at night until I'm sure they are not going to try to kill each other while ranging. With my set-up a month is convenient but that's probably overkill.


As Aart said, sometimes that works and sometime it doesn't. Often these integrations go a lot easier than we make them sound, especially if you have a lot of room. A lot of old-timers just dump new chicks or chickens off with the free ranging flock and it works out. They may be OK with them sleeping in trees but at least they are not killing each other.

When I move my chicks into the main coop with the adults I move them in at night after it is dark so they wake up together. But I don't do that until they have roamed together outside for a few weeks so they re not strangers. When I do that I'm down there when they wake up at daybreak to open the pop door and let them out until I'm sure it's not a problem. With mine that's usually one or two early trips down there, it's practically never a problem. But I still do it, just in case.
Thanks for the reply. The birds are "quarantined" about 30 feet or more on the other side of another building. It's the best we can do with our set up and what shade if available. I was surprised by the 4 weeks because I thought I had read one week was sufficient, but at this point, I guess some precautions are better than none, and with all things there are some risks. The longer they stay in their lil coop, for example, the more susceptible they are to predators vs. the more secure, big coop. Feels a lil like "six of one, half a dozen of the other".
 

rosemarythyme

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Thanks for the reply. The birds are "quarantined" about 30 feet or more on the other side of another building. It's the best we can do with our set up and what shade if available. I was surprised by the 4 weeks because I thought I had read one week was sufficient, but at this point, I guess some precautions are better than none, and with all things there are some risks. The longer they stay in their lil coop, for example, the more susceptible they are to predators vs. the more secure, big coop. Feels a lil like "six of one, half a dozen of the other".
If that's the case don't bother with quarantine at all and move straight to beginning integration. IMO "sort of"quarantine with higher predator risk isn't better than no quarantine, less predator risk.
 

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