Struggling with integration


In the Brooder
May 18, 2015
Northern CA
Hi There,

I am new here, and new to raising chickens. We started 10 weeks ago with 8 day old baby chicks. Within the first month we were down to five due to a predator.
So we got 3 new chicks to replace the lost ones. Now our chicks (10 weeks and 6 weeks respectively) are together in the coop and run and, while there is no blood being drawn, the big girls are really nasty to the younger ones. Chasing them away from food, etc. If the run is not open (and until I get the predator issue sorted out they can only have accompanied trips into the run) they stay in the coop and the little ones won't come down out of the upstairs roosting area. I've got food upstairs and downstairs, so no one is lacking in food or water, but I would like to think the little ones will eventually feel confident enough to come down. Currently there is quite a size difference between them. Will the younger ones get bolder and less afraid once they catch up in size? Has anyone ever seen flocks fully integrate after such a start?

Thanks for any guidance from you more experienced members!
Thanks! I have barred rock, red sex link, and easter eggers. Their coop is about 45 sq ft, with an upstairs that's about 30 sq ft.
Coop and run are two different things. A coop is indoor shelter. A run is an outside 'playground.' A 30 sq ft coop is going to be a tight squeeze with those Barred Rocks and Red Sexlinks. And a 45 sq ft run is really cramped for all of them. They need a minimum of 70 sq ft of outdoor area. If they only have 75 sq ft total indoor and outdoor living space available. This is where you have a problem. The reason your 'big girls' won't let the smaller ones down is because they are over crowded as it is in the lower portion. Chickens, as you seem to have found out the hard way, don't like it when they don't have enough space. Our idea of enough room is not the same as a chicken's idea of enough room.
You need to partition off the coop and run with wire fencing - that one the older ones and the youngsters can see each other but, not get injured. After a period of time - you can combine them while keeping them under surveillance.

Chickens react badly to overcrowding, bullying, feather pecking and in extremes cannibalism. You need more feed dishes and water if they are together, because as you can see the older ones will keep the young from partaking.
Thanks, everyone. Our run is several hundred square feet but, because of a fox, I haven't been letting them out there right now, except when I am there. So they are in the coop which has an upstairs (30 sq.ft) and a downstairs (45 sq. ft.). There is food and water both places. Right now the little ones stay upstairs, and the big ones are downstairs. I guess, I am wondering if younger ones get less shy when they are the same size as the older ones, or if the pattern of running away from the bigger ones as soon as they get near is imprinted for life. Fun stuff! Thanks again.
No, they won't be scared forever. But the small space that you have them in will not be helping things. The crowding will only make the bigger chicks more aggressive. They are big enough to hurt the younger ones. Right now, you have several older chicks that are overcrowded and are extremely grouchy as a result. Remove the smaller chicks and get everyone adequate space ASAP.
I added just one pullet to five other pullets, three pullets and two production reds (similar to sex links.) They were pretty brutal in the beginning. I decided to keep an eye on them and only intervene if blood was drawn. There were times the two red girls would corner the girl and attack at both sides. Putting up roosts in the run helped a ton. She spent a lot of time on them to get a rest from the pecking. But one day, I noticed they were letting her eat with them and only occasionally pecked her. About a month or so in, I found them laying in the dust bin together. And eventually, they were cleaning each other beaks and acting as if they were always together. She is now third in the pecking order. If my lone chicken could not only make it and moved up in ranks, I am confident yours can as well.

Its really hard to do, but it's best if you can let them work it out. I found every time I intervened out of feeling sorry for my lone girl, they took would go right back to picking and chasing. Once I stopped intervening, they worked it out rather quickly. I suggest throwing down a tiny bit of scratch or bits of veggies daily to encourage them to forage and focus less on the new chicks. Good luck!

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