Wanting to add some new birds this year

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Monkeybean415, Feb 27, 2015.

  1. Monkeybean415

    Monkeybean415 Chirping

    Jan 15, 2014
    Juneau, AK
    Hopefully this is the right place for this thread.

    We have a flock of nine chickens we got last Summer and love. I want to get a few new birds this year but can't decide which type to go with. A lot of posts I see about adding chickens to a flock ask something like "are you absolutely sure you want to add new chickens" and warn about the pecking order and issues that can occur. Would it really be that bad for a few new comers that it wouldn't be worth doing?

    And if not chickens then what? Turkeys? Ducks? Geese? If we got turkeys they'd be for meat (likely for holidays). Thanks for your input!

  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    It's always worth adding new birds but pecking order and flock dynamics often make it a challenge.
    Once a flock is established, they view newcomers as a threat - stealing food and water from the flock and perhaps bringing in disease. Chickens are smart.
    It's always best to have another place on the property to house chickens to quarantine new, sick, injured or broody birds. You have to quarantine new birds. Then if you have some bullies when you introduce, you can quarantine the bullies and return them to the flock one at a time.
  3. tjo804

    tjo804 Crowing

    Mar 15, 2014
    Cedar Creek, Texas
    I added a few new to my flock that loved me very much.
    just one skittish chicken changed the dynamic and my ladies still love me but they do not let me hold them any more I have to sneak in at dusk after they roost to get my cuddles in now

    Make sure of the breed you want and the general personality guides here are helpful

    I added 5 more last year and they are fine with pecking order and such just don't crowd them and you should be fine

    have fun with your flock and do your breed research!
  4. scflock

    scflock Crowing

    Jan 13, 2015
    Upstate South Carolina
    I've had mixed results. I've mixed pullets in with my older laying hens twice. The first time, there was the typical pecking order struggle for about a week, then everything was fine. The second time it got more vicious. It eventually settled down, but I had one beautiful EE literally pecked to death. Keep an eye on their head feathers...
  5. song of joy

    song of joy Crowing

    Apr 22, 2012
    Central Pennsylvania
    It can work to add pullets to an existing flock of hens, but I usually do so only after the pullets are around 13 to 16 weeks old. At that age, they're typically large enough, fast enough and smart enough to keep away from the pecks of the mature hens.

    I added 6 pullets to a flock of 5 hens last year, and it worked out fine. No injuries. They had at least a month to check each other out safely, as they were in adjacent, fenced pasture areas (each approx 50 x 50 feet). They first encountered each other (absent the fence) while free ranging, which gives the pullets lots of room to maneuver around and away from the hens, while also establishing a new pecking order.

    It seems more risky when a cockerel is thrown into the mix. A previous flock integration included 4 hens, 6 pullets and a cockerel. When the birds were put together, the cockerel challenged the alpha hen and ripped one of her wattles. It was not a pretty sight.
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    If you add, you must remember to subtract too!
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Well, if you're short on space, you'll have to subtract....and if you keep adding eventually you;ll run out of space.

    Read up on integration, if you're well prepared it's not so bad..... but if you're not prepared it can be a nightmare.

    Here's some notes I've taken on integration that I found to be very helpful.
    See if any of them, or the links provided at the bottom, might offer some tips that will assist you in your situation:

    Integration of new chickens into flock.

    Consider medical quarantine:
    BYC Medical Quarantine Article
    Poultry Biosecurity
    BYC 'medical quarantine' search

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact. Integrating new birds of equal size works best.

    For smaller chicks I used a large wire dog crate right in the coop for the smallers. I removed the crate door and put up a piece of wire fencing over the opening and bent up one corner just enough for the smallers to fit thru but the biggers could not. Feed and water inside the crate for the smallers. Make sure the smallers know how to get in and out of the crate opening before exposing them to the olders. this worked out great for me, by the time the crate was too small for the them to roost in there(about 3 weeks), they had pretty much integrated themselves to the olders.

    If you have too many smallers to fit in a crate you can partition off part of the coop with a wire wall and make the same openings for smallers escape.

    The more space, the better. Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide out of line of sight and/or up and away from any bully birds.

    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading:
    1 person likes this.

  8. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Aart - do you mean that some people do not have the maximum amount of chickens??? How is that possible?[​IMG] Is there a vaccination against chicken math?

    Just kidding....

    To the original poster, do measure your coop and run, and watch your flock carefully. If you start having social problems other than pecking order, ofttimes it is a sign that you are over crowded

    Mrs K
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2015
  9. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Songster

    Dec 15, 2014

    Quarantining is a strict biosecurity measure used for sick or new birds. Isolation of a bully or broody is something far different and much more lax. Please don't use the two terms interchangeably. It gives new chicken keepers the impression that if they simply house new birds in a different area they are maintaining an adequate quarantine.
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I did not have the max for the first 18 months....but I'm getting there quickly, will have to cull the oldest girls this spring before the new ones outgrow the brooder.

    Vaccination was/is......lots of research coupled with cold-hearted logic and steadfast resolve. :D
    1 person likes this.

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