Same ole question about bringing together two different flocks. I have tried several different fixes and still have a problem with flock intergration. I have 5 laying hens at 30 weeks and 6 new chicks at 12 weeks. Since my chicks were six weeks old, they have been living in a separate smaller coop within my chicken run. Both sets of chickens are aware of each other and can see each other on a daily basis. When I let out the layers to free range I also let the chicks enter the run prior to free ranging them. I have let the chicken dictate where they would like to free range and all is fine until my Alpha hen Agnes (Australorp) and 2nd in command Piper (Plymouth Barred Rock) notices them; then they come running and drive the chicks into a frantic spin. I realize they have to establish a pecking order for their ecosystem to work, but at what age is it safe to intergrate both flocks into one? Outside the run the chicks can bob and weave and stay away from the older chickens, but once in the run things are a little tighter and the chicks get cornered. I have now installed an escape route for the chicks to use as a get away. Sometimes, when the larger chickens are free ranging, the chicks go to roost in the big chicken coop which they seem to enjoy. (BTW, the layers only go into the larger coop to lay their eggs, they roost outside in the run at night). As soon as #1 and #2 enter the run they go and inspect the large coop and terrorize the chicks who have to flee from the larger coop to the smaller coop for protection. Both sets of chickens have their own water and feed stations and they get the same special treats at the same time. What is one supposed to do? Any thoughts on the intergration process? Also, I plan on removing the smaller coop which will increase the run by about 18 sq feet once the all the chicken are united. Pre thanks for any inputs.
It's been a long time since I've had chicks, so bear with me. Are the 12 week olds much smaller than the adults? That might be a problem. Also the last time I did an integration I had to pull the head hen out and isolate, then brought her back when the rest were OK. Can you seperate Agnes and Piper to knock them down a bit?
These things take time. 12 week olds are still pretty young.
I have 3 adult hens and 6 pullets just beginning to lay (around 20 weeks). The older and younger girls have been integrated at night in the coop and freeranging, but I still put them in separate tractors during the day for the same issues you describe.
However, I'm noticing while free ranging that some of the younger girls are beginning to hang out with the older hens where before they would stick like glue only to their same age peers. I think with time the differences between the two groups will diminish until it disappears. We'll see.
I think you can just continue what you're doing (with the escape route for the younger chickens) until you observe no more serious bullying.
I have 8 RIR's that are about 30 weeks old and 3 barred rocks that are 16 weeks old. They free range together but have seperate coops. The reds still terrorize the rocks if they can. They will chase them from the feeders and try to bully the snacks. My reds are larger but not by much now than the rocks. 2 of the rocks are roos. I keep telling the reds that soon those boys will be kicking their butts.
I have three 12 week old's right now, and they are only about half the size of my six month olds, from my past experience, I'm guessing they'll be much closer in size in 3 to 4 weeks, they grow so fast.
You may try freeranging all but one or two of your calmest hens, and let the chicks loose in the coop with them for a few hours. Then gradually add in another hen or 2.
Thanks for the inputs! I will try to isolate the two alphas from the rest of the clan to see if they can come together. My layers are almost twice as big as the new chicks especially Piper and Agnes. My smallest layer (Ester) is an Easter Egger which is still larger than most of the chicks, although Sparkles (Silver Cuckoo Maran) is getting close to her size. BTW, Ester is the low layer on the totum pole (for now). Keep the suggestions comming, I really appreciate all the inputs.