Trouble integrating

Jkchicks19

Chirping
Jun 11, 2019
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This is my coop and run! Poor little chicks never move! Been trying for weeks but older ones just don’t seem to be warming up. When they free range the little ones just stay hidden under a bush. I’m not sure when I will know if this just isn’t going to work!
 

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DobieLover

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It would help if there were some obstacles in their run to give them places to get away from the big girls. Hiding under a bush doesn't surprise me. Did you give them a see but don't touch period before integration?
x2.
I would also recommend putting a thick layer of wood chips in the run so they have something to scratch through. Add more perches as well as things to hide behind.
Put a second and third food station at the opposite end from where the older birds are eating so they can play musical feeders.
Complete flock integration always takes time. Months. Give them more things to do, more places to eat, any places to hide and things will go a little better.
But bear in mind that the lower ranking birds will continue to be driven off at the whims of the higher ranking flock members. That never stops.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,846
21,978
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Southeast Louisiana
The OP gives some details in this thread. Basically two more mature pullets and a cockerel are not accepting more immature pullets as equal members of the flock. One pullet especially is attacking them. The three older ones are 18 weeks old, the three younger pullets are 14 weeks.

https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/flock-not-integrating.1330928/

From my observations it is normal for mature chickens to not accept immature chickens as equals in the pecking order. If the older ones are still immature they can sometimes be even more brutal than truly mature hens but you can still have problems with adults. Typically the younger quickly learn to avoid the older as much as they can. If they have enough room to do that things normally go pretty smoothly, but there can be exceptions. Some chickens are just brutes. Your older pullet may be one of those. Hopefully she will change as she matures.

You say they hide under bushes when they all free range. How much room do they have when they free range? A photo might help with that. I'm not surprised there can be issues when they are in the coop and coop/run but with more space it sounds like you have an over-aggressive pullet. Then you say when you remove that pullet the cockerel becomes aggressive. Is that when they are free ranging or when they are in the coop/run? Isolating that pullet is a good idea but I don't understand why the cockerel then becomes aggressive toward them. Is he trying to mate with them or beat them up?

Typically my pullets are accepted into the flock about the time they start to lay. Until then they avoid the older chickens during the day and will usually not sleep on the main roosts with them at night. They are afraid of the older chickens for a reason. If they invade an older chicken's personal space during the day or on the roosts there is a reasonable chance they will get pecked. When I open my pop door in the morning it's pretty normal for the younger pullets and cockerels to be on the roosts while the adults are on the coop floor. And when I have different ages of immature chickens the youngest are generally hiding under my nests, it's a good hiding place. In both cases, the less immature are avoiding the more mature.

So what do you do? Find some way to get to the point where the younger pullets are laying so no one is injured or killed. That should solve your issues. How you get there is the question. Often when you remove the aggressor the rest get along but you say that is not happening with your cockerel. If he is trying to mate with them that's about dominance, it's not aggression. He's not likely to hurt them. Your small numbers may be contributing to that behavior. You can let it go but observe to see if any are actually getting injured.

Dobie has some good suggestions about multiple feeding/watering stations and places to hide under, behind, or above. Often integration just isn't that big of a deal, but sometimes it can be rough, even when you have lots of room and do everything right. Each chicken has its own personality and sometimes there are personality clashes.

Good luck!
 

Jkchicks19

Chirping
Jun 11, 2019
63
143
66
x2.
I would also recommend putting a thick layer of wood chips in the run so they have something to scratch through. Add more perches as well as things to hide behind.
Put a second and third food station at the opposite end from where the older birds are eating so they can play musical feeders.
Complete flock integration always takes time. Months. Give them more things to do, more places to eat, any places to hide and things will go a little better.
But bear in mind that the lower ranking birds will continue to be driven off at the whims of the higher ranking flock members. That never stops.
I did just put more feeders in the run...it helped. I have sand in the run..and coop and I added a wooden step ladder in the run they seem to like. It breaks my heart when they go after the Brahma..she just puts her head down and let’s them peck...I wish she would run away or something! I’m hoping when the younger ones get bigger it won’t be so bad.
 

Jkchicks19

Chirping
Jun 11, 2019
63
143
66
The OP gives some details in this thread. Basically two more mature pullets and a cockerel are not accepting more immature pullets as equal members of the flock. One pullet especially is attacking them. The three older ones are 18 weeks old, the three younger pullets are 14 weeks.

https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/flock-not-integrating.1330928/

From my observations it is normal for mature chickens to not accept immature chickens as equals in the pecking order. If the older ones are still immature they can sometimes be even more brutal than truly mature hens but you can still have problems with adults. Typically the younger quickly learn to avoid the older as much as they can. If they have enough room to do that things normally go pretty smoothly, but there can be exceptions. Some chickens are just brutes. Your older pullet may be one of those. Hopefully she will change as she matures.

You say they hide under bushes when they all free range. How much room do they have when they free range? A photo might help with that. I'm not surprised there can be issues when they are in the coop and coop/run but with more space it sounds like you have an over-aggressive pullet. Then you say when you remove that pullet the cockerel becomes aggressive. Is that when they are free ranging or when they are in the coop/run? Isolating that pullet is a good idea but I don't understand why the cockerel then becomes aggressive toward them. Is he trying to mate with them or beat them up?

Typically my pullets are accepted into the flock about the time they start to lay. Until then they avoid the older chickens during the day and will usually not sleep on the main roosts with them at night. They are afraid of the older chickens for a reason. If they invade an older chicken's personal space during the day or on the roosts there is a reasonable chance they will get pecked. When I open my pop door in the morning it's pretty normal for the younger pullets and cockerels to be on the roosts while the adults are on the coop floor. And when I have different ages of immature chickens the youngest are generally hiding under my nests, it's a good hiding place. In both cases, the less immature are avoiding the more mature.

So what do you do? Find some way to get to the point where the younger pullets are laying so no one is injured or killed. That should solve your issues. How you get there is the question. Often when you remove the aggressor the rest get along but you say that is not happening with your cockerel. If he is trying to mate with them that's about dominance, it's not aggression. He's not likely to hurt them. Your small numbers may be contributing to that behavior. You can let it go but observe to see if any are actually getting injured.

Dobie has some good suggestions about multiple feeding/watering stations and places to hide under, behind, or above. Often integration just isn't that big of a deal, but sometimes it can be rough, even when you have lots of room and do everything right. Each chicken has its own personality and sometimes there are personality clashes.

Good luck!
Thankyou so much...that’s very helpful. My older ones are still a few weeks from laying...so the roo has a little maturing to do to I think. Your in-put is very helpful because..I had no idea what to expect..and I don’t know anyone else with chickens. They have about a 1/2 acre to free range....but all usually stay in one area...when they range it’s better but randomly my aggressive hen will go on the chase. My roo is not nearly as aggressive so with her in time out maybe he feels it is his place now. Honestly the younger ones gets so crazy and make so much noise it sounds worse than it possibly is. Hopefully when all are laying it will calm down...but at this point the little ones will continue to sleep in brooder at night..they don’t seem to mind..probably it is their safe place...but I will be very happy when they can be in the run together...I work a few days a week so the little guys are in the brooder since I can’t trust big ones yet. Also, the big ones all stuff them selves in one nesting box every night...there are 6 nesting boxes ...but this is what they do..so I put a board in front of boxes..and they wouldn’t even go in coop..there is a nice perch in there as well..so I physically put them in coop and closed the door..this morn...they managed to move board enough to squeeze into a new ring box...uhg! For all the research I did...I clearly DO NOT know what I’m doing!!
 

Wee Farmer Sarah

Crossing the Road
Oct 8, 2018
4,612
30,106
942
North Central Massachusetts
Thankyou so much...that’s very helpful. My older ones are still a few weeks from laying...so the roo has a little maturing to do to I think. Your in-put is very helpful because..I had no idea what to expect..and I don’t know anyone else with chickens. They have about a 1/2 acre to free range....but all usually stay in one area...when they range it’s better but randomly my aggressive hen will go on the chase. My roo is not nearly as aggressive so with her in time out maybe he feels it is his place now. Honestly the younger ones gets so crazy and make so much noise it sounds worse than it possibly is. Hopefully when all are laying it will calm down...but at this point the little ones will continue to sleep in brooder at night..they don’t seem to mind..probably it is their safe place...but I will be very happy when they can be in the run together...I work a few days a week so the little guys are in the brooder since I can’t trust big ones yet. Also, the big ones all stuff them selves in one nesting box every night...there are 6 nesting boxes ...but this is what they do..so I put a board in front of boxes..and they wouldn’t even go in coop..there is a nice perch in there as well..so I physically put them in coop and closed the door..this morn...they managed to move board enough to squeeze into a new ring box...uhg! For all the research I did...I clearly DO NOT know what I’m doing!!

It was better after my pullets started laying, however it took another couple of weeks before the hens would let the pullets in the nest boxes so I was finding eggs on the floor in a tight corner. But they're all OK now.
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
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Thankyou so much...that’s very helpful. My older ones are still a few weeks from laying...so the roo has a little maturing to do to I think. Your in-put is very helpful because..I had no idea what to expect..and I don’t know anyone else with chickens. They have about a 1/2 acre to free range....but all usually stay in one area...when they range it’s better but randomly my aggressive hen will go on the chase. My roo is not nearly as aggressive so with her in time out maybe he feels it is his place now. Honestly the younger ones gets so crazy and make so much noise it sounds worse than it possibly is. Hopefully when all are laying it will calm down...but at this point the little ones will continue to sleep in brooder at night..they don’t seem to mind..probably it is their safe place...but I will be very happy when they can be in the run together...I work a few days a week so the little guys are in the brooder since I can’t trust big ones yet. Also, the big ones all stuff them selves in one nesting box every night...there are 6 nesting boxes ...but this is what they do..so I put a board in front of boxes..and they wouldn’t even go in coop..there is a nice perch in there as well..so I physically put them in coop and closed the door..this morn...they managed to move board enough to squeeze into a new ring box...uhg! For all the research I did...I clearly DO NOT know what I’m doing!!
It's really just a matter of semantics but in your case it is quite applicable. Your hens are not hens, they are pullets. Your roo is not a roo, he is a cockerel. When the hormones hit and everyone begins to sexually mature, things change pretty dramatically. When they fully mature and become hens and a rooster at one year old, behaviors and personalities have usually settled into place. With the exception of the rooster. They usually come into their final personality by the time they're two years old.
 

slordaz

hatchaholic
5 Years
Apr 15, 2015
3,456
6,394
602
Idaho
Thankyou so much...that’s very helpful. My older ones are still a few weeks from laying...so the roo has a little maturing to do to I think. Your in-put is very helpful because..I had no idea what to expect..and I don’t know anyone else with chickens. They have about a 1/2 acre to free range....but all usually stay in one area...when they range it’s better but randomly my aggressive hen will go on the chase. My roo is not nearly as aggressive so with her in time out maybe he feels it is his place now. Honestly the younger ones gets so crazy and make so much noise it sounds worse than it possibly is. Hopefully when all are laying it will calm down...but at this point the little ones will continue to sleep in brooder at night..they don’t seem to mind..probably it is their safe place...but I will be very happy when they can be in the run together...I work a few days a week so the little guys are in the brooder since I can’t trust big ones yet. Also, the big ones all stuff them selves in one nesting box every night...there are 6 nesting boxes ...but this is what they do..so I put a board in front of boxes..and they wouldn’t even go in coop..there is a nice perch in there as well..so I physically put them in coop and closed the door..this morn...they managed to move board enough to squeeze into a new ring box...uhg! For all the research I did...I clearly DO NOT know what I’m doing!!
Actually cockerels tend to mature a month or 2 before the pullets do, I put first 2 days eggs from 2 hens that were just starting to lay 3 were infertile but the 1 did hatch a chick that was tiny due to egg size but once outta the egg she caught up quite quickly to the others from the older hens.
 

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