Trying to integrate old and new flocks....

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by FreedomFarm13, Nov 7, 2016.

  1. FreedomFarm13

    FreedomFarm13 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 20, 2015
    So, I have five 7 month old pullets that have been together since birth. They have always gotten along fairly well. Then, a couple months, ago, I added my wheaten Ameraucana cockerel (same age) in with them for convenience. Now I have 15 babies of varying ages, anywhere from 8 weeks to 14 weeks, and am trying to integrate them. My wheaten cockerel is now in a coop by himself (the "boy coop") and I want to add my 13 week old blue Am cockerel in with him, but this morning my little blue's comb was all torn up because he'd been ramming himself into the side of the run-- the chicken wire, and scraping his comb all over it, so now he's bleeding. I know for a fact that my wheaten cockerel, Hugo, was not hurting him, because I watched him just stand there staring at my little boy as he rammed himself into the side of the run, also, Hugo has had new young boys in with him before and has always, within 24 hours, accepted them and been friends with them. But poor little Athos (the blue boy) is freaking out. I'm not sure if it's because he's afraid of Hugo (since he has no reason to be) or he's trying to get out with his flock mates, but I was wondering what I should do about it. I also added all my girls (and a suspected boy) to the new coop with the older girls, and although there hasn't been any bloodshed in there yet, I noticed that all the babies were wet from the rain last night, because apparently they spent the night on the ground under the coop while the big girls slept on the roost and inside. Should I just let them sort that out themselves, or should I try to construct something for the babies to roost on that the bigger girls won't be interested in (like a lower roost or something...)? Normally, the whole Athos and Hugo thing wouldn't bother me, but I've really taken to Athos (he's already an excellent flock protector) and I don't want him to suffer just for my convenience. There is another (suspected) boy, a BLRW named Pippin, that Athos grew up with, and I could try adding him in with the boys to try and soothe Athos a bit, but since I'm still not 100% sure about Pippin's gender, I was kind of holding off on that, AND he's absolutely in love with his hatch mate, Phoebe, a sweet little splash BLRW, so I didn't really want to separate them. But I will if it means Athos and Pippin could look out for each other. What do you think? I've been agonizing over this for a week, and I really need to do something about it soon. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs I Wanna Be A Cowboy Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Unless roosters grew up together I wouldn't put them in the same pen together, it won't often go well. I would leave all cockerals with the hens until they start to make trouble than remove them if necessary. I only pen clutch mates together and sometimes even they fight.

    Your new chicks know nothing of your coop. They are probably frightened and don't know what to do. You will need to make them a separate area inside the coop where they can safely stay during the night. You will also need to help them go in and out and make sure they are in the coop in the evening for a few weeks. Young birds do require some help adapting to living in the coop and learning to stay away from the older birds.
    1 person likes this.
  3. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Chicken Obsessed

    Hi. [​IMG]

    Why are you keeping boys?

    I integrated all of my broods including cockerels with chicks that grew into cockerels without issue.

    Also, I don't understand why your younger chicks were not SECURED in the coop? I do have lower roosts for the younger birds who work their way up higher eventually. I do think it helps.

    It's unfortunate that Athos is hurting himself although good that you are able to see it isn't the other boy. I would try to provide him a way to get out of sight of your other boy since chicken show downs are often stare offs, it could be kind of intimidating. And any new situation for a creature of habit like chickens will cause stress for sure. I would give him a few days to adjust. Maybe even some time alone inside there to become familiar with escape routes.

    And though not part of the subject... do you mind if I ask what you feed? Suggesting a flock raiser or grower which has more protein and less calcium for growing birds than layer feed does. Starter or grower is also fine for mixed age and gender flocks. But layer fed to all could cause long term kidney issues in non layers like chicks, cockerels, and molting hens. As long as you provide oyster shell on the side, the layers will get what they need and the others might sample but won't overdose. Plus it's just a pain to try and keep feeds separate for different ages. Sorry if you already knew this or do this. [​IMG]
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
  5. FreedomFarm13

    FreedomFarm13 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 20, 2015
    I'm keeping boys for breeding to the SOP. I don't want everyone just mixed together, though, because I want as much control as possible over the pairings that occur. I'm a little anal like that...
    The babies are secured in the coop, but I left 4-6 inches open at the bottom of the pop door for them to wander out into the run and explore if they wanted. For some reason, they don't want to be inside the coop and chose instead to sleep on the ground even though the big girls can't get into the coop to chase them out. Go figure [​IMG] I do feed a flock raiser, and have been supplementing with garden scraps and am in the process of learning how to ferment my own feed for them, but it's a work in progress getting them transitioned to that. My girls always have free choice oyster shell available, too, although they haven't been eating it much since they've decided they will not grace me with their first eggs until Spring...freeloaders.

    The babies have been in my little super secure brooder coop for the last couple weeks, and have a little run where they can practice "free ranging" and hang out with and be seen by the older chickens. The older girls have had at least two weeks to get used to seeing the babies, even longer with some of the older chicks. They weren't circling the run anymore trying to intimidate them like they did when I first put them out there and seemed to have gotten used to them. I put the older girls in with Hugo (the older cockerel) until the new coop was done, and once it was I moved the babies into the new coop for 48 hours by themselves at first so that they could get settled in without being harassed, and then added the older girls at night so that they'd have a whole night of roosting and sleeping together before ever having to interact. For Hugo and Athos, I moved Hugo to the brooder coop for 48 hours while Athos got to acclimate to Hugo's coop and so Hugo would be the new bird on campus, then added him, also at night. Hugo's coop is about 4x8 ft, and the girls' coop is 5x5 ft with a 5x10 ft run. The boys don't have a run, they are just let out to free range every day until I can make them a new coop since I'm just temporarily using one my mom had already made. All of the girls have at least 2 sq ft of space each, and they are also allowed out during the day to free range (different area than the boys). I just realized that something I said in my first post is not right. The older girls were not "inside" they were under the covered part of the run (it's under the coop). I don't know why I said inside. Also, the babies had a roost inside the coop to use, but they didn't. Realized I hadn't made that clear when I talked about adding another lower one in the run under the coop. I've done everything I know to do to make integration as seamless as possible for all the birds, and I really need it to work because I don't have the money to build another coop and am really gonna need my brooder coop in the Spring for the new babies, so everyone's just gonna have to stay where they are, but I don't want anyone getting terrorized. I did notice this morning, however, that since I added Pippin, my BLRW cockerel (hopefully) in with Athos and Hugo, everyone is a lot more calm and I saw the three of them 'spooning' in the old little nesting box when I went to let them out this morning, so I think I may have solved that issue. Of course my boys are gonna be the better behaved ones...I can always count on them. Love my boys [​IMG]

    Anyway, sorry for the super long response. I'll get some pics here in a little bit, but it's raining here at the moment, so I'll wait for it to let up before I venture out there. Please don't judge the state of the coop, I had to hurry quite a bit to get things done and it still needs a few finishing touches ( like a real ramp-- that thing is super janky). Thanks for all your responses, really!
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2016
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I get confused by reading too much.....

    Who do you want where? You want a bachelor pad, and a pullet that what I'm getting? You're not breeding yet?

    The cockerel that's hurting himself will settle down. Animal don't like to be moved around and leave their buddies, but we are the humans and we decide. They're resilliant and make new alliances faster than you'd think. I'd say just leave him be and let him work it out.

    Put who you want where you want, and they'll work it out. Try to keep the littles out of the rain, that's not a great thing, but other than that, they'll figure it out.

    I just set up a breeding pen, young cockerel and pullets that had all been in the main flock. I thought the cockerel would like having his own ladies---not at first! He was so freaked out by being in a different pen, he also kept throwing himself against the door, escaped every time I opened the door, etc. It took about 5 days for him to settle down in there, but now he's pretty content.

    I"m not a fan of drawn out integration, but I move birds around enough they just have to get used to it. Last night, I broke up a breeding pen that wasn't working, just put everyone back in the main flock. They've been out about a month or so...this am, like nothing ever happened. Also last night I moved a group of bantams into a more secure pen (pretty sure I lost one to a rat [​IMG]) and "weaned" a group of littles into the same pen. They've been next to each other, but not together. Bantams are maybe 4 months, littles are around 2 months. Again, they're all fine and dandy this morning.

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