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What's the best way to put the NEW chickens with the OLD ones???

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mick&cori, Aug 10, 2011.

  1. mick&cori

    mick&cori Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 11 White Rock adults right now - 2 roosters and 9 hens. We are going to be adding 11 more hens to our flock. We hatched these, and will be putting the hens in when they are older - about as big as the adults.

    We currently have the newbies in a pen right next to the adults - with only chicken wire separating them. I wanted to let them see each other to get used to them....

    How old should they be before I put them in with the adults? When should I do it? I read somewhere that adding more chickens (or taking away a "head-honcho") can really upset the pecking order and cause great stress. Someone else told me to do it at night when they are roosting.

    They will have plenty of room and feeders/waterers... but I'm concerned about putting them together.

    What is the normal process?
     
  2. Leah S

    Leah S Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am right there with you! our new girls are next to the coop separated by some chicken wire. The only thing I am waiting for is when the new ones are close in size to the older girls. But I only have three left after a raccoon got in the old coop. Have 7 to introduce to the older ones. hoping that since there are more newbies that it will trip the scales in favor of the new ones.
    Have heard that it's different for every flock. different pecking orders and personalities make a difference I am sure. The three that I have left are very docile so I can only pray that it goes well! if not I will take them out and try again in a few days.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I've written something more about integrating younger chicks than adults, but maybe you can get something out of it that will help. We all do it differently and have different results. Good luck!!!


    You'll get different opinions on here because many of us do it different ways. To me, a lot depends on how much room they have and how you manage them. I know it does not help you any, but this is mainly why I am always glad for a hen to go broody. She takes care of this for me. It can be a dangerous time. But yours are not broody raised chicks.

    I'll go through a long explanation of the behavior, then tell you some about what I do, but if my circumstances are different from yours, you probably cannot do it like I do it. Hopefully you can pick up something beneficial from my post though.

    Part of it depends on your chicken's personality. They are living animals with their own personality. No one can truly predict what an individual chicken will do, but we can tell you what we have observed. You can have different types of aggression. First, you have the pure integration. This is where the two flocks don’t all see themselves as one flock. They look at the other chickens as intruders that must be driven away or destroyed. Each flock has its own dynamics. Some flocks are real accepting and some are not. Housing your chickens next to each other for a while will really help avoid this type of aggression.

    Some flocks have a chicken that seeks out to destroy any new weaker chicken. Young chicks certainly quality as weaker, but it could be any chicken you add to the flock. Usually this is a hen, not a rooster. My roosters have always protected or ignored the young members of the flock, but that does not mean yours will. Sometimes a rooster may see them as a threat to his flock instead of an addition, but usually it is a hen with the dangerous attitude.

    Many flocks do not have chickens that will seek out and destroy a weaker chicken. That does not mean you are safe. There are still the pecking order issues. Maturity has a whole lot to do with the pecking order until they all reach maturity. Mature chickens will dominate immature chickens. Think about it as chicken etiquette. It is bad manners for a chicken lower in the pecking order to invade the personal space of a more dominant chicken. In chicken society, the more dominant chicken has the right and the expectation that they will enforce their dominant rights or lose them. If dominance is clear, the dominant chicken will peck, the less dominant is intimidated and runs away, and everything is again calm and peaceful. If dominance is not settled, they can fight to decide which one is dominant. Sometimes you have the seek-out-and-destroy types who chase the weaker ones. If the weaker has room to run away, this usually does not happen. But if the weaker one does not have room to run away or gets trapped against a fence or in a corner, the dominant one gets indignant and is determined to teach this challenger a lesson, even if the challenger is trying to run away. That is why having enough room is important.

    Food, and to a lesser extent water, is another way for a dominant chicken to enforce its dominance. The dominant chickens will often keep the less dominant away from the food, sometimes to the point that the weaker chicken can suffer from malnutrition. I keep two separate feeding stations available anyway, but when I integrate, I add more and make sure they are well separated. Same idea with water.

    Bedtime is the time that I have seen mine be the most vicious about enforcing their pecking order-personal space rights. Have plenty of roost space.

    I keep my brooder in the coop from day 1. I have a 3' x 5' brooder mainly made out of wire but with a good draft guard and I keep one area in the recommended temperature range. I let the far corners cool off as they will, usually around 20 to 30 degrees cooler than the heated spot. They normally spend most of the first two days under the heat, but after that they play all over, only going back to the heat when they need to. They do sleep under the heat. After they fully feather out, usually around 4 to 5 weeks, I take away the supplemental heat and take them out of the brooder. I then have a space for the adults and the chicks that is separate but where they can see each other. I let the adults free range (no fences so they have a lot of room) but keep the chicks in an enclosure until they are about 8 weeks old. At this time, I figure they are big enough to not be such hawk magnets and start letting them free range. Some people do it at an even younger age. They have separate sleeping areas and do not sleep together.

    The chicks very quickly learn to stay away from the adults, but my adults do not go after the chicks. If their personal space if invaded, my hens will peck to enforce their pecking order rights. I've never seen my rooster do that, but he also does not get involved unless an actual fight breaks out. Then he breaks it up. These fights are when the chicks are old enough to try to establish pecking order rights, usually around 15 weeks old for roosters, a bit older for pullets. My younger chicks just try to run away.

    I think it is good for them to sleep apart even after they are fully integrated during the day, at least for a while. Mine are more aggressive on the roosts than at any other time. When they do start to sleep in the same coop, for about a week I make it a point to open that pop door real early so they can get away from each other instead of being cooped together in a small space. After about a week, I can stop worrying so much about that. They can normally stay in the coop with the adults without too much danger. The younger ones stay on the roost out of the way and the older ones roam the floor where the food and water is. I have a large coop so the young ones can get away from the older ones, at least to a point.

    I think I can do it this way because I have a large coop, a large run, and I let them free range a lot. If your space is tighter, then you might have a real problem doing it this way. I'm also around during the day to watch them, but in reality after I let them out, I don't do much. It just makes me feel better if I am here. I have a fairly laidback flock with a rooster that helps broody hens raise their chicks and hens that ignore the chicks unless personal space is invaded. My circumstances are probably different yours, but hopefully you can pick something useful from all this.

    Sometimes it is so easy you wonder why you were worried and sometimes it is a disaster. Good luck!!!
     
  4. ladyride

    ladyride Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As long as there is plenty feeders & waters this is good. [​IMG] I had mine looking at each other for about 3 weeks with the wire , but the easiest is slipping them in at night when they have gone to roost they wake up the next morning together. There will be some pecking order stuff go on it is the natural order of things I kept an eye on mine for the biggest part of 2 days it is hard sometimes not to jump in there but as long as there is no blood they will work it out. I put some enrichment boxes in the run so the newer ones had somewhere to hide if they felt the need. [​IMG] I had 23 who had to get used to 15 new ones. All of mine are young so to speak the oldest are 18 weeks the young ones were 8 weeks.Which is why it went pretty easy. They still free range seperate like 2 flocks but they don't chase the little bitties anymore. Good luck !! [​IMG]
     
  5. wowmanacat

    wowmanacat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When I moved mine to the main coop I did it one night after they had all be free ranging together for a few week. All went well. I had just gotten rid of 5 roosters. I will do this again with some more littles that I have in the pen now.
     
  6. KDailey

    KDailey Crazy Cochin Lady

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    I threw them all in together and just watched for any serious aggression. Yes, some of the older ones picked at the little ones but I also had little ones defending themselves and winning.

    If I saw one that was seriously acting majorly aggressive, I seperate that one and leave the rest.
     
  7. mick&cori

    mick&cori Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So as far as space, feeders, and waterers there is plenty all around. I have an actual human door between the 2, so I was planning on opening the door. The 2 enclosures are 100% efficient for 2 different flocks, each with rooster, nesting boxes, and multiple feeders and waterers. I was hoping it would be as easy as just opening the door. They also have separate runs, but the fence separating their runs is removable. I needed to replenish my hens for my 2 roosters. So, I'm guessing the crabby hen will probably be the issue.

    So, should I just open the door separating the houses at night? Should I let the roosters work on protecting their new "women"?

    I know this is probably a try and see, but I'm just wondering everyone's process. Thanks for the help.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    mick&cori :

    So as far as space, feeders, and waterers there is plenty all around. I have an actual human door between the 2, so I was planning on opening the door. The 2 enclosures are 100% efficient for 2 different flocks, each with rooster, nesting boxes, and multiple feeders and waterers. I was hoping it would be as easy as just opening the door. They also have separate runs, but the fence separating their runs is removable. I needed to replenish my hens for my 2 roosters. So, I'm guessing the crabby hen will probably be the issue.

    So, should I just open the door separating the houses at night? Should I let the roosters work on protecting their new "women"?

    I know this is probably a try and see, but I'm just wondering everyone's process. Thanks for the help.

    I assume by rooster in your third sentence, you mean roosts.

    It is a try and see. It sounds like you don't free range yours. I'd just open the door and see what happens, so I would initially open it when I could observe. As long as it is not really violent with one chicken, hen or rooster, trying to actively kill another one and no blood is drawn, pretty much let them work it out. You can keep a garden hose handy and spray an overly aggressive one if you wish. It is remarkable how that can get their mind off certain thoughts.

    You can expect some pecking. That is normal and how the pecking order is established and enforced. And let them continue roosting where they want to. I do worry more about them together on the roosts than any other time.​
     
  9. Lindz

    Lindz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just added 3 more hens to my flock yesterday, they are about to start laying but they are a ton bigger than my other girls. I put them in and stood there to make sure they were ok and to break up anything serious. There was some pecking and my roo didn't really like them at first. I went out there after dark to see how things were going and they were all happy, only 1 (the biggest new girl) was not on the roost where they all usually sleep. So Im pretty happy that they took pretty easily.
     
  10. chiken lover863

    chiken lover863 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thats a good idea;) we put some chicks 1 week old with one day old now they are 3 months old n they are very good friends.
     

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