When you first start your flock, it can be an exciting adventure. There are so many new things to learn and do. But after a while, you might want to add new chickens to your flock. Or you might have to isolate one, and it needs reintroducing. This task can seem daunting for the inexperienced. But we will walk you through it. In this article, how to add new chickens to my flock, we will give tips and steps to take in almost every situation.
Tips On Adding New Chickens
Chickens have a firm pecking order. Everyone in your flock knows exactly their place. But adding new chickens to my flock can disrupt the pecking order. If you aren’t careful, you could have wounded birds or even death. Some people seem to have great luck with adding new birds with no extra precautions, but it’s not always that easy. Here are a few tips to get you started on the right foot when integrating.
The first step in adding new birds is to isolate them first. At the minimum, isolation should be a week long. But the longer you separate, the better. Some illnesses can take a while before they start to show signs. If possible, we recommend quarantining for at least a month.
You never want to add a single new chicken. Adding in a lonely chicken will make them more susceptible to bullying. If you were to integrate at least two chickens, it would reduce the chances of bullying. And it will give your chickens a friend that they already know in their new home.
Like Size & Age
Another key on how to add new chickens to my flock is size and age. You don’t want to add hatchlings to a coop full of large adult birds. Older chickens pecking younger chickens isn’t a fair fight. Chickens of the same age are less competitive than if you were to add a younger hen to a flock of older ones, but not always. Keeping a brooder for younger chicks until they grow is the best idea, and then you can slowly integrate them.
When adding new birds to the flock, an important rule is not to add a new rooster if you already have one. Roosters are very competitive and jealous. They will protect their hens and don’t appreciate another male presence. Adding another male rooster to an existing roo led flock will end in a fight and possibly death.
Rearrange The Coop
Rearranging the coop could help distract older chickens. They are so preoccupied trying to figure out where their usual spot is that they aren’t as dominant. You could also try adding more food and water containers to keep chickens from protecting their areas.
When it is time for the chickens to meet their new flock, you will want to protect yourself. Wearing thick pants, long sleeves, and gloves will protect you if you have to break up a chicken fight.
Methods For Adding New Chickens
Now that we have some essential tips out of the way, we can talk methods. Choosing a strategy that works best for you and your flock is not black and white. You will have to know your flock and how they react before deciding on a method. Most people use a combination of these methods. But no matter what way you use, you will need to keep a close eye on them for the next few weeks. At any time, a dominant hen might decide to bully another.
Small Cage Method
A favorite method for introducing new chickens is to use small cages. The idea is to set up a small cage next to the coop so that everyone can get acquainted from a distance. Slowly, you can move the cage closer until the only thing left is to introduce them. A large dog crate works well for this and should only take about a week to be introduced.
Some chicken keepers find it very calm to add new chickens at night. Chickens have poor eyesight in the dark, so their main concern is finding shelter after dark. If you add a new chicken when everyone is getting ready for bed, they might gladly accept the new bird. They, of course, can smell the new bird in the coop, but they are more tolerant because of lack of sight.
The best way to do this is to place the new chickens in the coop first. Then after about 30 minutes of them exploring, round up the rest for sleep. Since the new chickens are inside the coop first, it gets their scent everywhere, so they don’t seem as foreign.
Introducing a new bird on uncommon ground is a simple and easy way to integrate. Your existing flock won’t have anything that they feel they need to protect. And they will be so busy discovering new things they might not notice a few new hens. To do this method, release your new chickens into the area first. Once they are done exploring, add the rest of your flock. For all your flock knows, they are on the new chicken’s territory and will be on best behavior.
Changing chicken coops is another excellent way to introduce in a new location. If you are upgrading your coop to accommodate a larger flock, this is perfect. You will do this in the same way already mentioned. Add the new chickens to the enclosure for a few minutes before adding the rest of the flock. Moving chickens from one coop to another will give them something new to explore and less likely to start a fight.
Distract With Treats
And our last method is a distraction. This method works much the same way as a new location. It preoccupies your flock’s attention until they realize that there are new birds. Adding a few of your chicken’s favorite treats will help ease the tension and allow for seamless introductions.
You may be wondering how to add new chickens to my flock that free-ranges? The best method for a free-ranging flock is to let the new birds into the field first, then let the existing flock out. Free-ranging chickens aren’t as possessive over territories as caged ones. But they do like to stake a claim to an area. If your new chickens are out first, there will be less tension between them.
How To Reintroduce A Chickens To The Flock
Reintroduction of an isolated chicken is not as tedious as adding a new chicken. In some cases, your flock might even miss the hen while she is gone. You can use any of the methods above for reintroduction and move faster if you like. Just be aware that if you had an incredibly sick chicken, they might smell differently now from medication. This smell might off-put your flock and will take time to get used to.
Introducing Pullets To Pullets
Most people might think that pullets are easier to introduce than adults. But even at this young age, pullets have a pecking order. Since all of the birds will be young and not very large, it is slightly easier in some ways. You don’t have to worry about an older hen or rooster picking on the young ones. But not all precautions should be thrown out the window.
Experienced chicken owners still integrate their pullets in the same way that they do their adults. It is safer for all of the chickens and you for a slow introduction.
How To Integrate Baby Chicks Into Flock
Introducing baby chicks into the flock can be very fragile. If you have a broody hen, you could try giving her the chicks, and she will defend them and care for them. But a broody hen is not always available to you. In that case, you should have a backup plan.
The other way to integrate baby chicks is to use a brooder. Your brooder should be warm and cozy for baby chicks until they are at least ten weeks old. By ten weeks, your chicks will be growing fast and have the ability to keep themselves warm. But you should still use some caution. When moving chickens from brooder to coop, you will need fair weather of no less than 65 degrees.
But you don’t want to throw these babies into the flock. The best way to introduce the younger chickens to adults is to give them a sectioned off area of the run. Using hardware cloth or fine mesh, give your chicks a space of their own with a small coop. Your chicks will grow up around the adults and make their first interaction easier. Once they are big and strong, let all the chickens out together in a new area. The introduction should go smoothly, but keep a watchful eye on them.
Introducing Hens To A Rooster
Introducing a rooster to an all hen flock usually goes without a hitch. But introducing new hens to an existing roo could cause an unbalanced pecking order. When integrating hens to a rooster, you will want to take all of the precautions mentioned already. Move slow and only introduce older hens. Bringing in small hens could cause unrest with your rooster, and he will pick on them constantly. If the hen is ready for laying eggs, they usually integrate seamlessly.
But what happens with a rooster not accepting new hen? Even if you follow all the methods and tricks in the world, it does not mean your roo will accept any hen. Chickens have a personality just like people, and they don’t like everyone all the time. In that case, it is probably best to re-home the hen or rooster if this is a continual problem.
And There You Have It…
Everything you need to know about how to add new chickens to my flock. We hope that you find harmony and joy of having a large flock. And with the help of this article, you will grow even more. Don’t forget to follow our page to get more insightful tips about keeping backyard chickens.
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