Suggestions for Flock Integration? What now?

2150MormonRd

Chirping
Nov 9, 2020
37
44
69
This is my second flock integration and I'm doing it much differently. Last time, it was four added to six and I kept them separate till they were nearly 18 weeks. Used a tractor by day for two weeks and then a crate in the coop at night for 4 days. I just didn't have the energy this time because catching them from the tractor was terrible. And I felt they'd be healthier if I got them outside asap. So now I have a flock of eight at about one year old. I'm integrating 6 and they will turn 12 weeks this week. I have a large covered run and they have been in an inner run with their own little coop inside for about 3 weeks. Look but no touch. They are doing really well save for the quickly reducing space as the are growing BIG.
I have begun to open the inner door to let them explore but they will not come out. And if they do, within about ten minutes one of my two smallest hens (a 55 Flowery and a Apenzeller Spitzhauben literally jump on top of them and attack. No one will come out at all now, even with the door open for hours. And the Flowery will go in and literally kamikaze them occasionally. The littles need to learn to roam...how much longer does this last? I'm at a loss because I cant sit in the run for hours on end.
Any ideas? Since its more than one bully (like three) , I can't do chicken jail so easily.

I have three waterers and three feeders but the bigger ones still chase the year old little hens away from food. Its not just one bird. They all seem so persnickety this summer whereas last summer as pullets they were pretty easy to get along with. Is this normal adult behavior now? The Appenzeller screams to get out to free range daily at 6AM......They are all stealin' my joy.

Any ideas welcome. I just want to avoid blood, escape, and persistent attack on these littles.

Year olds: 2 Barred Rock, 2 Wellsummer, 1 EE, 1 Bielefelder, 1 55Flowery, 1 Spitzy
12 Week olds: 2 Icelandics, 2 Cream Legbar, 2 Salmon Faverolle
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
10,859
17,705
726
western South Dakota
Take a look at your run. Can every bird see every bird 100% of the time? If so, what you need to add is clutter. Places where birds can get out of sight of each other. You don't only need more feed bowls, but you need hidden feed bowls. Whereas a bird eating at one feed bowl cannot see who is eating at another feed bowl.

This may sound crazy - but if you are feeding 24/7 set up, take that away. Feed once a day, they should be hungry, and they will be more worried about getting theirs, than who is getting else. Then have multiple feeders around, that are hidden from others, and they will all get fed. I adjust my feed every day, if the bowls are empty, I feed a little more, if they bowls still have feed, I feed a little less.

Add ladders, saw horses, pallets up on cement blocks, small totes, cardboard walls, anything that a bird can get on top of or underneath, or step behind. This will make much more use of the vertical space, and while it will look cluttered to you, it will be much more interesting to the birds.

Now what else I would do, I let the old girls out of the coop/run into the yard. If you can't do that, then you need to put them where you chicks are, and let the chicks out in the coop/run. A couple of days won't kill the old girls, and it will make a difference. This allows the new girls to get comfortable in the coop/run, and explore it, find hidden food bowls, all without being chased for their lives.

And the last thing to consider is, you are basically doubling the size of your flock... how much space do you have? For fourteen birds you need a coop about 6 feet x 9 feet, and a run about 14 x 10... a pretty large set up.

If you have too many chickens - offer some point of lay or layers for sale. Easy way to make feed bill money - and make sure you get rid of that noisy bird.

Mrs K
 

3KillerBs

Addict
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Jul 10, 2009
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@Mrs. K has given you excellent advice. I've followed her advice about run clutter and others' advice about the see-don't-touch period with both my Splits and my Ideal Dozen and been rewarded with two smooth integrations.

Currently the Splits are mildly hazing the Ideals so I have been trying to make sure that they have plenty to do in the run -- big piles of weeds pulled from my garden, cartloads of pine straw and leaves raked up to add to my litter, and today flakes of straw.

Here are some photos of my run with it's clutter. There is no place in there that I can stand and see it all so the chickens certainly can't. :)
 

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3KillerBs

Addict
Premium Feather Member
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Jul 10, 2009
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North Carolina Sandhills
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Now what else I would do, I let the old girls out of the coop/run into the yard. If you can't do that, then you need to put them where you chicks are, and let the chicks out in the coop/run. A couple of days won't kill the old girls, and it will make a difference. This allows the new girls to get comfortable in the coop/run, and explore it, find hidden food bowls, all without being chased for their lives.

Having read this advice several times this week, I'm thinking of luring the Splits into the Ideal Dozen's coop tomorrow morning then shutting them in there all day so that the little ones can enjoy the run in peace.

The adults don't harass them. Assert their rights, yes, but not herding them around the way the Splits are doing.
 

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