Will my new chickens integrate with my existing flock?

Gsparkhall

Hatching
Aug 31, 2019
1
1
6
Will my new chickens integrate with my existing flock.


I recently bought 2 new chickens. We have quite a large garden that the existing chickens wander around all day. I’ve kept the 2 new ones together in their own pen with coop for the last 3 nights, but within sight do the existing chickens just to get them used to each other. I let both of the 2 groups mix this evening to see how they’d be. There were some minor scrapes but nothing not to be expected. I’m worried that if I let the two new chickens out in the large garden with the others that’ll they’ll just wander off and not return to their coop. We live in rural France so they could easily wander off and not be found again. Also they’re very scared of humans which would make rounding them back up again almost impossible.


Does anyone have any tips to get the two groups to integrate together well. I’m hoping if they’re able to form a single group then the 2 new ones are much less likely to wander away!

Thanks all!
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
24,544
36,083
1,122
Colorado Rockies
Confining the new hens in their coop for several days and nights will habituate them to return to it come dark. But if the coop you've installed them in is temporary, you would be better off enclosing them in the permanent coop before you let them run free or else they will just keep returning to the first coop.

If the new girls are very skittish and untrusting, you would also do well to make friends with them so they will come when you call them. It's easy using treats and an audible cue. They quickly associate the verbal command or shaker of corn or a training clicker with treats and will come running when they hear it.

Whether the new chickens will become friends with the existing flock will be determined by individual temperaments. They will all get used to one another and will get along as well as any chickens with a constantly fluid pecking order.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 12, 2009
9,268
12,428
636
western South Dakota
Really, when I put mine together, they tend to stick together even if one is getting thumped on. I would put them in the coop and lock the rest out for a day, and then let the others in shortly before dark.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,838
21,952
907
Southeast Louisiana
Welcome to the forum, glad you joined.

How old are they? If they are mature I'd follow Azygous's suggestions. Basically, mature means "are they laying yet" though they may reach that point this winter when they are not laying. Seasons have a bit to say about that.

If they are not yet mature I'd still do it basically the same, but I'd expect different results until they mature. My immature pullets (I assume yours are female) share the coop and run with the adults but keep a certain distance. When they are outside they keep a certain distance but no one gets attacked. In the coop the adults sleep on the main roosts and the immature ones find another place to sleep. I don't care where mine sleep as long as it is not in the nests and is somewhere safe from predators. When they mature enough to force their way into the pecking order mine move to the main roosts. That is usually a smooth process. If they are already adults there can be more skirmishes but still is usually not that bad.

Regardless of age if you keep them in a coop/run area for a week they should return there to sleep at night, where they are easy to catch when on the roost. If they are used to sleeping in trees it may be more challenging but at some point you will have to take that chance.

Unless my pullets were raised with the flock and have always slept in the main coop with the adults, I like for mine to sleep in their separate coop at night but range with the adults for about a month before I move them into the main coop. I'm sure this is an over-abundance of caution but I've never had an issue doing this. Then at night I move them from their coop to the main coop, just setting them on the coop floor while locking their old coop so they can't return there the next night. Sometimes that once is all it takes. Sometimes they return to the old coop area to sleep and I have to move them into the main coop again. Eventually they get the message.

Whether they are mature or not, try to be patient. As much as you reasonably can let them determine how quickly they want to merge with your current flock. I don't put mine on the main roosts with the others, they may not be ready. When I put them in the same coop the first time, I'm out there at daybreak to let them out until I'm comfortable they will be OK locked in the main coop together. Usually that takes me one time.
 

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