When & How to Introduce a new member to the flock


In the Brooder
5 Years
May 3, 2014
I posted this in another thread about introducing new chickens, but it was recommended I start a new thread. Looking for some input, thank you :)

"We currently have 3 chickens who are about 6 months old. When we got them they were 2 weeks old and we didn't know the sex or breed. Now we know one is a Red sex link, she is laying eggs now too. Another is a hen who is some type of Yokohama mix. The third one is a Silkie, but we don't know the sex. We are getting one egg a day from the Sex Link, and she is a sweetheart. The Yokohama is considered an ornamental bird. Her eggs are small and inconsistent. And when/if the Silkie lays we can't count on her for providing us with our egg needs. Our coop could hold one more chicken. but I wouldn't think it could hold more than that. Our options are to split up the flock (which I don't want to do b/c they are a little family) Or introducing one more egg producing chicken. So, if we choose to introduce one more chicken (which I am sure is not ideal b/c it will be the only one) Is it better to get it around the same age as the other chickens? Or as a chick and raise it by hand like we did the others? I am thinking introducing a smaller chicken may set it up to get picked on :(
Thanks for any input :)"
I think it'd be better to get a chicken around the same age, but it doesn't have to be exact.
I think if you got one 2-4 weeks younger it wouldn't hurt any. Older is perfect too.
Adding a single hen to a limited area is the most difficult integration. It sounds like you may have limited room, which will make it even harder. More space, birds can get away from each other. In limited space, often times birds are killed or seriously injured.

A younger smaller bird will be very vulnerable, but even an older bird will be in for a rough time. If you have alternative coop/run, you could pull one of your original birds out of the coop, pair up with the new girl, let them get it sorted out for a couple of weeks, then reintroduce the pair. If that is not an option, I would remove two of the original flock, and replace with two new birds.

Personally I would let the ornamental bird go with the silkie, and replace with two egg layers.

Chickens may have a very small brain, and while they will have friends, and will be slightly distressed if you add or remove birds, it is not for a long period of time.

Mrs K
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Thank you for that input Mrs K! I have not been on the forum for a bit.Yes, our issue is space. We just introduced a Leghorn of the same age to the flock yesterday. My Red Sex Link is the leader, and she is being quite the bully. It it logical to get rid of the 2 ornamental birds. But we can't part with the Silkie. I have separated the 3 from the new guy today by means of a small fence we have that separates the yard. So they can see each other, but can't peck. I will try to pair up the Silkie with the Leghorn in that space. The Silkie is super friendly and has been hanging out with the Leghorn anyhow. So maybe they will pair up. But I for sure do not have 2 coops. So this will only work for the day time. Any other input is most welcome. Thank you!
Well these girls keep me on my toes. I have been allowing each chicken to spend "one on one" time with the Leghorn this week to see how they behave. And the Red Sex Link actually does not pay much attention to the Leghorn when they are by themselves (out of the coop). The Yokohama mix will run across the yard to peck at the Leghorn. The Silkie is lost by her own feathers to know where to go :)
But when the 3 original birds are together, its another story. They definitely have a gang mentality. So now my thought process is to separate the Yokohama from the flock for a few days. I think I can achieve this with a dog crate. Right now I have been separating them by keeping some in the coop area (that has a small attached run) and keeping the others in the yard. And another good piece of news is that is appears the Leghorn is starting to stand up for herself too. Just bought & applied some "blue lotion" to the Leghorn. Looking for the "peck no more" as well. Not sure why folks are saying to apply it to the shoulders and butts of the pecker birds (pun intended). But I have asked, any input is appreciated :)
We have found that introducing new chickens is much like adding in new rabbits. We found that everytime we took in new birds those birds would stick together even if they had never met before. My daughter raises rabbits and I had mentioned my thoughts about new groups ect and she said that's how you introduce new rabbits. Put the critters ( chicken/rabbit) in a cage or carrier and bring them for a nice car ride together. It seems that if they endure a stressful situation together they tend to stick together and get along better.
right now I have separated the 2 smaller ones, which is interesting bc they were the most aggressive. So the new Leghorn is in the yard with the Red Sex Link. The red seems a bit confused and irritated that they other girls are not there. But she also is not attaching the Leghorn.Maybe this will be like a car ride? :) We will see... we may go for a drive too! I have not put them in the coop together though yet. My thought is that if I can break up the gang mentality and introduce the old pack in increments (one at a time), that I may break the chain of behavior.... I put blue lotion on the Leghorns head and comb bc she was pecked there. But I am considering doing the same to her shoulders and butt bc I read that's the spot most chickens get pecked on. And since I put the blue lotion on her head, she has not been pecked on the head.
I'm still worried about trying the car ride with my BLRW roo and the new Delaware roo together. If I pen them they fight at the fence until they are exhausted or the BLRW stays on the other side of the yard with the pullets when I let them out. Delaware was supposed to be mellow with other Roos.
One last question, my other option for this weekend is to put the Leghorn in one of the pens for the weekend. The other 3 will be fine together and they can stay in the coop until someone can let them run around for a while. I usually have a neighbor come over and check for eggs and he lets them out and puts them back at night. I just think that if I separate the Leghorn now, it will be twice as hard to integrate her when we get back.

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