Perfect Strangers (When can the new chicks meet the Hens?)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Frostymug, Dec 2, 2012.

  1. Frostymug

    Frostymug Out Of The Brooder

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    May 8, 2012
    Abingdon, VA
    Hello fellow Flocksters.

    This is our first year raising chickens.

    We have 13 hens (9 months old) , 3 male Guineas (1 years old) , and 29 straight run chicks (2 months old).

    When and how should I introduce the little birds to the big birds?

    Here's the situation. One chicken barn divided into 2 rooms. One side is the coop, the other is the feed shed, storage, and brooder. The birds can't see each other but can hear each other.
    The barn is quite a few feet off the ground, the adult side has the chicken door and ramp.
    The chick side has no outside access as of yet.
    The adults are let out to range during the day.
    The chicks don't even know that there is an "outside".

    Any insight would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. weaversfarm

    weaversfarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 28, 2012
    I have never had any luck trying to put 2 flocks together and I am so glad you posted this question, I was going to ask about this very same thing. The fighting between the 2 flocks was more than I could handle so we put up a separate coop in a different area for one of the flocks. The first year we had chickens I took some of their eggs and hatched 25 chicks out. When we tried to put them with the original flock the older flock killed most of the new flock so I cannot answer your question but will watch this thread to see what others have done. I currently have a flock of 54 RIR with 2 roosters in it that is 5 weeks old now and I am going to be hatching out 36 more this month so there will be an age difference of about 10 weeks. I hope to combine the 2 flocks, except for the breeding stock and would like to do it without a lot of blood shed.
     
  3. n8ivetxn

    n8ivetxn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 15, 2011
    Elma, Washington
    I keep about 20 birds. So far I've been able to introduce new birds without much turmoil. I usually put the new birds in a "tractor" next to the main coop, so everyone can see and hear each other. Do that for a week (or two).

    Then I let them out together to range - plenty of room and food to keep them from focusing on each other too much.

    After doing that a few times, I move the others into the coop - but only when I have the next couple days off, so I can be at home and monitor everybody - rescue only when necessary. They have to "reset" the pecking order.

    I try not to intervene unless I really feel a bird is being chased too much or if another bird draws blood (never had this happen, yet).

    For my younger birds, I have a section of the coop fenced off (8'x2.5') and I keep the young ones in there for a while. I let them out with the other birds when I can be around to watch them. When I feel confident the young ones are not being harassed, and they can get to a feeder or water without trouble, I let them stay with the big birds. - Usually at 3 months.

    I keep Salmon Faverolles and French Marans, mostly and a couple of Marans/Ameracauna crosses. I have a trio of Cochins in a seperate pen.

    Good Luck!
     
  4. karinkess

    karinkess Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 30, 2012
    I have ten hens 3 months old - and have about ten more coming in April. Thought I would take the two silkies and 2 polish i have now - bottom of pecking order - and create a new coop with the new bantams. i would keep the larger birds together - old and new. Plenty of room in coop for larger ladies...hopefully if I do the intro slowly while free ranging they can all work it out.
     
  5. weaversfarm

    weaversfarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 28, 2012
    I will try to do it your way n8ivetxn and hopefully there will be less blood shed. I hate to lose chickens....especially if there is something I can do to prevent it.
     
  6. n8ivetxn

    n8ivetxn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 15, 2011
    Elma, Washington
    IMHO, free ranging is a great way to let birds get acquainted. Their attention is divided, so they don't focus on the new birds or get bored and just start picking... A big coop helps too....more room to stretch the wings without bumping into a stranger!

    I also have "obstacles" in the run area. A big log propped up on bricks and a hanging feeder in the middle, the water over on another pedestal..... makes it harder for the birds to corner a victim.....Oh, and have multiple feeders and water points too. I have 2 water points and 3 feeders....
     
  7. n8ivetxn

    n8ivetxn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 15, 2011
    Elma, Washington
    Yeah, I do what I can to ease the transition. I don't ever leave the new birds enclosed in a pen with the flock unless I can supervise for a day or two. However, free ranging them is a little easier because of the diversions and lack of boredom.....

    I think the breed also has an impact on the aggressive nature of the flock. Salmon Favs are known for their docile nature, but that being said, I still watch to make sure they don't chase. - I expect a new bird to get pecked if they get close to a flock member, but I don't like to see one being chased around....

    It makes me nervous every time I integrate new birds, but I think taking time and not getting in a hurry helps them.
     
  8. karinkess

    karinkess Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 30, 2012
    Multiple feeders is a great idea. As my ladies are maturing, some - pushy broads - do have first right to the feeder and stretch out their wings preventing the 'well mannered' from first dibs, even if it does accommodate them all. Love the obstacle course!
     
  9. n8ivetxn

    n8ivetxn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 15, 2011
    Elma, Washington
    "pushy broads!" [​IMG] - You have those too?! Wow, I can't believe they actually spread their wings like that! - I haven't seen mine do that.... I hope they're not doing that! It would be funny if it wasn't so serious!

    It must be horrible to come home and find the flock killed a new bird. I can't imagine.

    I started with 2 feeders, but when I nearly lost an 8 week old roo to malnourishment (vet's diagnosis, not mine) I was really upset about that, so I added more and bigger feeders and developed the "obstacle course" to keep it from happening again. I'm not positive they were keeping him from food - I think the real problem was his timid personality. He was a bit under-developed and he would just instinctively run when another bird came anywhere near him.

    Oh, another good way to integrate new birds: clean the coop and change the bedding, move the "furniture" around some - again, it causes a distraction so they don't pay so much attention to the new birds being added.....new smells and the visual differences sort of throw them off.

    2 weeks ago I bought 2 boys from a reputable breeder. They are about 9 & 10 weeks old, and they've been in the coop "nursery" area for a week now, so tonight I let them out with everybody else. They have been free ranged only once with the other birds and I haven't seen any of the big birds chase them, but I have seen them get pecked a few times - when they violate somebody's personal space.... I'm off tomorrow and I'll let them out to free range, so I'll stay out there a bit and watch them. If all goes well, maybe the boys can stay with the flock from now on [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  10. Frostymug

    Frostymug Out Of The Brooder

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    May 8, 2012
    Abingdon, VA
    Thanks for all the great the advice. I think a couple of weeks exposure via a chicken wire barrier will be the way to go for us. Since our brooder is separated from the coop by a wall, we will go ahead and knock out part of that wall, put some wire up, and extend the brooder to meet the new opening. This will give the added benefit of more space for the chickies to run around in and grow, as well as giving everybody some face to face (er..beak to beak?) time to get used to each other.
     

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