Will they ever get along? Integrating different ages of chickens.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by bock, Jul 3, 2010.

  1. bock

    bock Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 10, 2008
    Northern CA
    I have a 1 year old flock of 5 chickens. There pecking order is like this (Highest-lowest): standard Production Red hen, OEG Bantam roo, standard EE hen, bantam Cochin hen, and a Jap. bantam hen. I have a 14 week old Buff Orpington hen and a RIR hen. The 2 hens are in a pen that is in the sun all day, so I decided to just put them in with the adults today since they are almost twice the size of my adult bantams. I heard them squaking after they had been in together for about 2 hours. I went out to their pen to find my Production Red hen jumping at the Buff Orpington, like a rooster, and pulling out big wads of feathers. The RIR hen was terrified, and had her head shoved between the nest box and the wall and the rooster was pulling feathers out of her bottom. I ''rescued'' them and returned them to their old cage. I know I probably shouldn't have done this, but I didn't think they would be THIS mean. How will they ever get along? I guess I could wait until they are full grown. Ugh, what should I do so they will get along? Thanks ahead of time for any suggestions! [​IMG]
     
  2. NancyP

    NancyP Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 28, 2009
    Bonifay,Florida
    When I integrate my kids I give them safe places to hide from the others. As an example we have to boards propped up against an exterior wall they can hide behind. They can also get behind the nest boxes. So far things have worked out fairly quickly with little fuss.
     
  3. jossanne

    jossanne Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 11, 2008
    Gila, New Mexico
    The first time I integrated new chicks into my group of adult hens, I put the chicks (4-6 weeks old) in a wire dog kennel inside the coop, with one side up against the wall of the coop. That way they could get to know each other through the wire, and with the big girls pecking into the cage the little ones could get up against the wall where it was safe. After everyone was used to the situation and ignoring each other, I opened the door an inch or two so the little ones could go in and out freely, but sat in the coop with them for an hour or so to babysit. There were a few squabbles at first, but I was there to keep the peace. After several supervised visits, I started letting the chicks out (leaving the kennel door open just a bit) while I hid to watch, and everything was peaceful. Pretty soon they were able to be unsupervised all the time, and a couple weeks later I just moved the kennel out as it eventually just became an extra roost.

    There are always going to be minor squabbles as they work to keep the pecking order in order, but it shouldn't be too bad.

    Now I introduce babies to the flock so frequently that no one even notices when the little ones join in the fun. It's not a big deal at all, and I haven't had a problem in forever.

    Good luck!
     
  4. Wolfwoman

    Wolfwoman Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 5, 2010
    Chickaloon, Alaska
    jossanne, I did just as you, but it got done in about 4 days. Two visits a day I'd take the little ones out and let them be in with the older ones, intervene when they got TOO rough, left em be with normal "I'm the boss" pecks. On the 4th night I let them out near dark and closed the kennel. No troubles.
     
  5. jossanne

    jossanne Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 11, 2008
    Gila, New Mexico
    I think mine probably took a week from when I first put them in the kennel into the coop until I let them start living together full-time. But I didn't take the kennel out for a while until I knew they didn't need a safe place anymore.
     
  6. Wolfwoman

    Wolfwoman Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 5, 2010
    Chickaloon, Alaska
    Mine couldn't figure out how to get back in... kept trying to go THRU the bars [​IMG] So I had to have the door wide open anyways... lol
     
  7. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    I always introduce mine first free range. The only trouble I have had was when one 8week old got stuck in a patched section of the neighbor's fence and since he couldn't get away they scalped him.

    Eventually it seems that they intergrate themselves. Took a whole 4 days to merge my last batch of kids in with the adults, after that they were like one flock. My current flock of teenage girls would not sleep in the coop with the adults no matter how many days I locked them in together, so I quit forcing the issue, and I have found 3 of my younger pullets roosting with the big girls this week!! (I don't know how it would work if you had them confined in a run though.)
     
  8. bigoakhunter

    bigoakhunter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 29, 2009
    Michigan
    You might try giving your 14 week old birds another 3-4 weeks of growing. Most don't consider birds to be full grown till at least 18 weeks.
     
  9. bock

    bock Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 10, 2008
    Northern CA
    Thanks for the advice! I will do what you suggested, but I might wait a week or 2 like bigoakhunter said. Thanks again! [​IMG]
     
  10. HappyTalons

    HappyTalons Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 9, 2010
    Mid-Missouri
    Ugh you all make it sound easy . . . Its been over two weeks now trying to integrate our flock and the older pullets will STILL not tolerate the younger ones (about a month younger than the youngest, and about half her size) being within 5 feet of them.
    They will roost together, sort of, generally different sections of the roost bar. The put em on the same roost together and they magically forget didn't work for us. They didn't forget anything! They'll still peck the youngsters, though not overly violently, no blood has been drawn (aside from a small facial wound the other day). They did accidentally get in the relatively small run of our coop together the other day and miraculously didn't kill one another or injure one another, but the little ones were stuffed in a corner, cowering.

    Sigh . . .its like we have two flocks cohabiting the same areas, but constantly in a cold war. [​IMG]
     

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