Small Flock Integration

manicfarmer

In the Brooder
Apr 16, 2015
43
2
24
I have a two small flocks of chickens 4 weeks apart in age. The larger flock is 10.5 weeks and the smaller flock is 6.5 weeks. The both live in their own chicken tractors out on pasture and I move the tractors once a day. The pasture is about a half acre fenced and I want to free range all the birds during the day. I put the first flock out on pasture right at 3 weeks because I was having brooder issues and they are doing quite well now (except for a really mean BR Cockerel that likes to bully the submissive birds).

I was reading through a thread on here a week or two ago about a fella with a couple of tractors out on pasture with birds of different ages and he asked his little girl to let the birds out when she got home from school (don't quote me on the details but close enough) and she did just that, let all the birds out. He just wanted the larger birds out and to leave the smaller birds in the coop. When he got home he noticed there were no real issues so he decided to let them free range with the other birds under supervision. I found that inspiring given that I was having some mental anxiety as to how I would integrate a flock of 17 young birds with a flock of 30 4 week older birds. I figured the younger ones would just have to stay in the coop until they were older.

So last Saturday I figured I would let the younger birds out and see what happened. Typically when I let out the larger birds, they pepper the entire pasture. You find some in the compost pile. Several are around the large dead oak eating bugs and eating grass. The day I let those little birds out first, I didn't notice anything different in the larger birds behavior really other than they just stayed away from that side of the pasture. I have the chicken tractors on opposite ends of the pasture to keep them separated to some degree.

I find it interesting because it is as if I have a fence separating my pasture now. For the most part the larger birds stay on their side. The first day a larger Red Ranger hen wandered over to the small birds first and immediately attacked one. I gave her a light kick in the rear and she went after another so I gave her another light kick in the rear and she retreated to her side of the pasture. Then my Fayoumi Cockerel started making a noise I had never heard as he was walking. This all happened within 20 minutes of me letting them out. I figured the Fayoumi was not happy that I was disciplining one of his flock members. Soon after 2 white rock cockerels came over (they are at the top of the flock with the Fayoumi) and they investigated the little ones. I watched closely ready to act in the event that I saw any aggression. They were very nice to the little ones. One didn't move out of his way when he walked around so he got a correction from the larger one but he quickly got the picture and moved. Then the Fayoumi came over about 15 minutes after that and too was quite nice with the little ones. He flared a few times and even charged a few but never even pecked at a single one. He was just letting them know who is boss. At that time another hen started wandering over and the Fayoumi quickly chased her back to the other side of the pasture. After that we had random visitors come over throughout the day but for the most part the flocks stay on their sides. No real aggression so far but I think that is because there is plenty of room for everyone.

This morning I heard the Fayoumi make that same sound he made when I was correcting the mean hen. I had let the little ones out and the white rocks and Fayoumi come to that side and hang out. A BR started heading that way and he ran over making that noise. The BR stopped and didn't go forward anymore. He ended up leaving soon after.

Anyhow this is a really long way of asking, what the heck are these roosters doing? Are they assisting in the integration of this flock with the other and keeping things cordial? I am finding the behavior fascinating for some reason. Right now the little ones are out and I am going to check on them every 30 minutes or so. I hope that doesn't end up being a bad mistake.
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,615
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CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
I'd say that the Fayoumi is establishing himself as the caretaker of the youngsters. Interesting that he is doing so at such a young age. It's not unusual that roosters will actually treat chicks better than the hens in the same flock. Is the Fayoumi practicing his crowing? Keep an eye on that boy. Sounds like he is a keeper.
 

manicfarmer

In the Brooder
Apr 16, 2015
43
2
24
I'd say that the Fayoumi is establishing himself as the caretaker of the youngsters. Interesting that he is doing so at such a young age. It's not unusual that roosters will actually treat chicks better than the hens in the same flock. Is the Fayoumi practicing his crowing? Keep an eye on that boy. Sounds like he is a keeper.

I have read somewhere that they are the fastest maturing bird. I assumed that meant in terms of physically growing so I looked it up and they take around 20-22 weeks to mature. Then I read they start crowing faster then any of the other birds. Mine started practicing at about 6 weeks and had it figured out within a week. He has been fully crowing for about 3 weeks now. I walked out earlier and my mean BR cockerel was on the side of the pasture with the little ones and the Fayoumi and he chased him away. He was a free exotic from the hatchery that I had intentions of eating. He has turned into my favorite bird with a profound personality. He may just be earning him a permanent spot here. I used to think he was mean because he was always picking on other chickens but I guess he was just working his way up the pecking order. He doesn't do that anymore unless he is challenged by another bird or if he feels they are infringing on something he perceives as his.
 

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