Your opinion about our integration issues!


Jun 22, 2012
We're not brand new to chickens but have never integrated chicks in with older chickens.

Our story.

Do to free range predators and illness problems our flock of 6 was down to 1 (3 year old) white leghorn. So in March we were off to the feed store for new chicks. When the chicks were around 7 to 8 weeks old we built a small temporary cage in the run so they could go outside but were safe from the leghorn. We still brought them inside every night. After 2 weeks of this we decided it was time to open the cage for some one on one. This went so-so. We still brought the chicks in at night at this
point. After 3 to 4 more weeks the chicks spent their 1st night in the coop with the leghorn. That was 3 weeks ago.
We can not free range because of bobcats and hawks.

We have 2 feeders and 2 waterers.

The leghorn has very little patience for the chicks. Sometimes we have to separate them. Sometimes all is good. The chicks will be starting to lay in a few weeks and I'm getting worried that the leghorn will not let them in the nesting boxes. The leghorn lays an egg just about everyday. 2 of our 5 chicks are feather pickers. I feel this is because of the stress from the leghorn.

We are thinking of building a new coop/run for the chicks but still have them all together at times during the day. Is this a good plan or with time will they all get along better?

Thank you for your replies. Here's a picture of their coop/run.
We would be adding the new coop on the left.
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Really I think you are past the worst of it. If your new chicks are about to lay, they will be rising in pecking order.

Beautiful set up, and looks like sufficient space, for 6 chickens.

A couple of things to do -
  • up the protein of your feed, or add a little cat food once in a while
  • check for parasites
  • set up some pallets inside your run, a place where a bird can get out of sight for a while, make sure not to set it up so that a bird can get trapped. I have found it effective to have one leaned against a wall, and to have one up on blocks so that is is 2-3 feet off the ground. They can get under it and on top of it.
  • add some roosts to your run area - this allows the birds to make more use of your vertical space, get away from each other, get a bit of flying exercise. I have them in two corners of my run, and birds are often on them.
At first this might make the run seem crowded, or cluttered, but it makes it much more interesting to your birds, and actually makes better use of the third dimension of space, the vertical space. It gives less dominant birds a way to hide. In chicken society, the way a bird accepts the pecking order is by giving way, moving away from the other bird. In an open run, there is no way to get out of sight, and harassment continues.

Once your chicks start laying, they are not going to take crap from that old biddy. And that old biddy is very likely getting closer to the end of her natural life span, especially if she is a hatchery bird.

I don't think you need a new coop.

Mrs K
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Thank you Mrs K.

Sounds like we're doing many of the right things. We have added 2 more roost and 2 shelves since that picture
was taken.

We are feeding them Grower/Finisher but will try adding some more protein. Time will tell about the nesting box issue I guess.
What is the Leghorn doing that you're separating them still? Anything short of drawing blood needs to be left alone. Pulling the young birds in and out all the time is just drawing things out. Do as Mrs K suggested, have plenty of hiding places, and leave them alone to work things out. Your Pullets may not lay in the nesting boxes at first, but they'll lay somewhere. You might need to set up alternative nest boxes. I use Rubbermaid tubs so they're easily portable.
Thank you for your replies. Things have settled down..... a little bit. Bedtime is still crazy. The main feather picker is still picking but not as bad.

Adding to the drama, the chicks are having a juvenile molt but the leghorn continues to lay an egg everyday. There's never a dull moment in our chicken coop.
It wasn't like this with the first flock. So sad that we lost most of them.

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