Raising Chickens Ezine

Mixing Flocks

There is no one right or wrong way to add to an existing flock but it can sometimes be easier to mix new chickens if they are of a similar size (chicks will also have a bit more resilience against any bacteria etc. they might pick up from the flock by then aswell) . If the new chickens are coming from someone else as opposed to chicks bought and raised yourself then it is usually wise to have at least a 30 days quarantine period. This is because a flock will tend to build up immunities to its own environment, and even seemingly healthy chickens can 'catch something' (or give something) when mixed together straight away. If the new additions are ex battery hens then keeping them seperate for a while will also help them regain their strength and confidence as they get used to their new way of life.

When it is time to mix the flocks it seems to help if they can be seperated but seen and heard by the other ones - in practice this could mean a partition in the coop itself or it could be free ranging in a nearby area. That way they can get used to each other. After a week or so you might try to mix them in together and see how it goes - this is best done at night. Waking up together seems to make integration easier. Some people just go straight to the mixing them in together at night.

However you do it, there will probably be a little bit of scuffling for a pecking order, but that is quite normal. In the majority of cases integrating new additions to an existing flock can go very smoothly but you will need to keep an eye on things to make sure that there is no one being singled out particularly and picked on and everyone is getting a chance to eat and drink (if that is a problem having an extra food and water container in a different area may help everyone to get what they need). If any squabbles result in bleeding then the blood in itself can attract pecking attacks from the rest of the flock and so the injured chicken(s) should be seperated until healed.

Below are the mixing flocks experiences of two keeping chickens newsletter subscribers

12 Week old Barred Plymouth Rocks & 5 week old Rhode Island Reds

Christy Weick : "12th June I'm thinking about introducing our two flocks (Barred Plymouth Rocks are 11 weeks old and the Rhode Island Reds are 4 weeks old) together next week. The RIRs are climbing the recycle green chicken fence that I have around an oak tree for them during the day. The cat, Gre-Gre, has an eye out for them. The dog, Lay-Lay, has left the chickens along since the 10 BPR got out the other day and jumped her. La-La weights as much as a BPR. No matter how I look at the calender the two flocks will be 7 weeks apart. The RIRs are half the size of Patrick's BPRs and they are gaining weight fast. Any suggestions on introducing them to each other or should I hold off another week or two?"

15th June "Well we put the two flocks together Friday night in the rain. When they woke up Patrick and I let them out into their 30' pen. We took a cleaned mineral barrel and cut an entrance hole and several small vent holes around the top of the barrel (so that all 7 chicks could get into it when the rooster BPR goes on the attack). The older group is going after the male RIR and leaving the hens alone.

Christy Weick's tan mineral tub turned into a hiding place for the RIRs

Mixing Flocks : page 1 - page 2 - page 3

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