So, you got a few pullets for eggs. They have grown up and are outside living happy, cute chicken lives. And now, chicken math has set in and you have another bundle of chicks inside brooding that you either hatched or bought.
Now comes the hard (sorta) part; introducing new chickens to the flock.
How are you going to integrate your new little cute fluffy bundles with your happy flock? If you purchased new chickens, make sure to quarantine them before integrating them.
For chickens hatched at home, here are our top 4 tips for introducing new chickens to the flock.
1) Make sure the new chicks are big enough
There will be some level of pecking from your existing flock to your new chicks. This is normal behavior and not a cause for concern.
It is, after all, how we get the term “pecking order”.
Therefore, you want to be sure the new chicks are big enough to stand up for themselves and also big enough to not be hurt from a few pecks from your existing hens.
It won’t take long for their new flock order to be established and for everyone to go along with their chicken lives.
2) Let the existing flock look, but not touch
If you set up a pen for your new chicks where the existing flock can see them, but not peck them for a few weeks it will make the transition go smoother.
You could use a dog crate for the new chicks. Then put that in with your existing flock. You could also set up a pen in the coop.
Do this by sectioning part of the coop off with chicken wire or other fencing.
Or, for a less sturdy option, you can set up branches or other obstacles. This gives the chicks a place to run where the older hens cannot chase them.
We closed off a section of our hen-house with some leftover welded wire fencing. It kept everyone safe, separate, and happy until they were ready to combine.
Once a few weeks pass, you should be able to remove the crate, fencing or other obstacles. And everyone should act fairly normally.
3) Give everyone a fun distraction
Chickens get bored just like us. And in cases of integration, boredom can lead to excessive pecking.
So, your existing flock will be less likely to pick on the newbies if you give them something fun to do.
Perhaps putting up a head of cabbage on a tether for them to peck at all day.
Let them out to free range so they can all have their own space and lots of bugs.
Freeze some watermelon for them to peck at or make some flock blocks. If the existing flock is busy doing their own thing, the newbies will likely be able to integrate in more smoothly.
4) Integrate at night
Often times, if you sneak your new little ones into the coop and onto the roosts with your existing flock at night.
When everyone wakes up they assume the newbies were always in the flock and this will lead to much less pecking.
These are the four ways to make introducing new chickens to the flock much easier and smoother.
Do you have any tips we didn’t mention? Share them in the comment section below!