Monday, December 5, 2016

Raising Chickens: How To Introduce New Chickens To The Flock

how to introduce new chickens to the flock

In my last post I discussed how to introduce 8-week-old chickens to an existing flock. In this post I will give you tips on how to introduce older birds. Perhaps you purchased some some starter pullets or you got some from a neighbor, or you ended up with a stray, however you got the older birds introducing them to an existing flock can be pretty stressful for both you and the newbie. The existing flock will treat the new birds as a enemy that needs to be driven away. And believe me, speaking from personal experience, this isn't pretty. They can become done-right vicious. We once had a rooster who gorged out the eye of another rooster. If you've read other articles, they often suggest that the 1st thing you should do is quarantine your new birds for at least 4 weeks. Why? The recent move could make them ill, or perhaps they have an illness that has not yet showed symptoms. This will ensure you do not expose your current flock to an illness. What we find works best for us is to put the new birds in a large dog kennel for about 1 week so that the existing flock and the new comers can at least see each other. The kennel will protect them from an actual attack and allows them to work out their pecking order in a more gentle way plus it lets them to know that this new building is their new home-sweet-home. After that week has passed,  we than allow them to free range during the day hours. When they free-range, the two flocks are often to busy to bother with each other. But do expect some battles as the restructure their pecking order. We usually remedy this with a squirt of the garden hose. It's just enough of a distraction to get them moving in another direction. That first evening we put them in the coop with the existing flock after they are asleep.  This is a good time to rearrange your chicken coop, this helps to make the coop a more neutral place as the two flocks re-establish their territories. Put some large branches in the coop, it will give the newbie somewhere to hide if need be.  We recently put our compost pile in the chicken coop, this gives them grass clipping, leaves, weeds and table scraps to dig through. Toss a handful or two of cracked corn in it. Making it even more of an adventure for them.    

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