Trouble Mixing Flocks

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by dreamgirl, Jul 21, 2008.

  1. dreamgirl

    dreamgirl Songster

    May 28, 2007
    Hudson Valley, NY
    I have 11 1+ y.o. hens and a roo and 13 14-week old ones. The largest of the young ones are now about the size of the smaller/mid-sized hens and I needed to move them out of the brooder and into the new coop. I free range most days and when the little ones were out they'd hang around the coop and when the big ones were out they'd hang around the brooder, so the flocks are familiar with one another.

    Advice I received from several reliable sources suggested moving them into the coop at night and supposedly they'll wake up in the morning and the old chickens will think they belong (which just worked well for a friend down the road) or letting them mix in a large open space where the younger ones can get away if need be, then moving them into the coop. On Saturday we let them all out at once and they got along as well as expected. The flocks hung with their own, but when they were near one another, there was no more than the regular leval of attitude. The rooster did jump on a few of the young ones, scarring them, but not hurting them.

    That night we moved them into the coop and, to give them a saftey hatch, I left the run door open (I have a 11' x 8' well fenced run attached). In the mornign I found them all outside huddled in a pile in the corner, all the older ones in the coop, and the rooster outside, not attacking or chasing, but just pacing around. He basically seems to try keep the flocks seperate. I let them all out and they were fine again all day. Most did NOT want to go back in at night (5 went in on their own and were fine), so I had to manually move the rest out of the run and into the coop as we were going to have a thunderstorm. This time I left the door shut.

    Anyway, this post is getting way too long, sorry. Short story is generally, the older ones don't bother the younger ones anymore than they pick on their own, but the younger ones still cower terribley. One did fight back, the big girl bit her, and like 6 of the babies jumped her! She backed off. No one has gotten hurt. Does anyone have any advice on how to smooth this transition (other than getting rid of the roo, which I already want to do)?I think I should have introduced them when they were smaller, and maybe a few at a time, but hindsight is 20-20...

  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    There are many ways you could have done it, but waiting till they were the same size is a good thing as younger and they could be pecked to death if they didn't understand well enough to run and hide. Them cowering is a good thing as it means they know they are not top and should not challenge the elders so to say. Their sign of respect. It may take a month or so to get fully adjusted and even then you'll be able to see who is top and not.

    However, to possibly make it smoother, if they were introduced younger, meaning though the fence or during free ranging, then the waking up with new neighbors may not have been as bad. If you search integrating hens or mixing flocks and so on, there are many posts with other stories, experiences, and methods.
  3. NS2A

    NS2A Songster

    Jun 11, 2007
    I'm trying the same thing at this exact moment. I'm trying to introduce 22 14 week old chickens with 3 year and a half old hens. It's not going well at all. The hens beat the heck out of the others.

    My neighbor who has a LOT of experience with chickens says sometimes it just doesn't happen. Ah, gives me an excuse to get rid of the older hens which I kind of wanted to anyway.
  4. Barnyard Dawg

    Barnyard Dawg Songster

    Feb 7, 2007
    Northern California
    We have mixed 1+ year olds with 3+ month old chickens fine we have now mixed in 6 week and three week old chicks with the flock. They all seem to do just fine the younger ones have their own pen which they go to at dark. There is a pecking order as far as the feed goes but they all get to eat plenty plus now they are enjoying all the grass. I guess the key is having plenty of space for the chickens to roam I would not what to keep them to closely confine to an area. They keep together in their own flock mostly, but they get along fine for the most part. They all free-range. I think the key is introducing them as soon as possible their pens are next to each other so there is always association with all of them.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2008
  5. mbleily

    mbleily Songster

    Feb 20, 2008
    I now have my 11 week olds in with my 16 week olds. I started by putting them in a separate pen in the house. they all could see each other. I kept them this way for about three weeks. I then started letting them out for a little each day. and then putting them back. Finally I was tired of all the extra work watering and feeding so I took the fence down. They do get a peck now and then and they are not sleeping on the roosts yet. they bunch up together in the corner where I had them. LOL 4 or roosters and will be going down the road soon and i think the little girls will fit in better.
  6. dreamgirl

    dreamgirl Songster

    May 28, 2007
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Thanks Silkie Chicken, that's what I thought, but it is sad to watch them be so scared. They did start out being able to see each other through the fence, for the last 10 weeks or so. I guess it will just take some time. I'm just jealous b/c my friend had no problem with hers (we split an order). She did hers 3 weeks ago and was introducing 12 to a flock of over 20 with 3-4 roos, guinea hens, ducks and whatnot, a much bigger coop/run and they are constantly having new birds introduced.

    I guess my biggest concern is that I have to go to work tomorrow and normally when I'm at work I leave them locked in so they don't get themselves in trouble. I'm thinking it may be safer to let them free range, but they do need to learn to be confined together sometime...

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