How to Introduce New Chickens to Your Existing Flock

How to Introduce New Chickens to Your Existing Flock

I think we all get ‘that’ craving every time spring comes round- should we get a few more chicks!? In fact with our first flock, it didn’t even take us this long, after the first weekend we went and got another six pullets. Before we knew it we had twelve pullets in our coop staring back at us!

Fortunately as the first six pullets were still establishing their pecking order, introducing six additional pullets was surprisingly easy and it happened without too much squabbling. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case and introducing new chickens to your existing flock can be a distressing and problematic time for both you and your chickens.

Quarantine New Chickens

Adult chickens are much more likely to be carrying a disease or infection, whereas chicks from a hatchery SHOULD be disease free. As a rule of thumb we say if you are introducing chicks or pullets from a reputable dealer this step isn’t required.

The first step when introducing new chickens to your flock is quarantining the new chickens and ensuring they don’t have any infections or diseases.

When you get your new chickens home, make sure you have a separate coop (or a large crate) prepared for them. From this separate coop you can observe them to check they are fit and disease free- the last thing you want to do is give your existing flock a disease from your new chickens.

The key things to look for are:

  • Signs of lice or mites.
  • Dull/ shrivelled comb.
  • Blocked nostrils/ fluid coming from their eyes.
  • Scaly legs.

If you are relatively new to raising chickens and are unsure what you are looking for, ask a more experienced friend to check your new chickens or failing that, head over to our Facebook page and ask us.

Whilst your new chickens are quarantined it’s a good idea to supplement their water with minerals to make sure they are fully fit before they meet your existing flock. Also, if you notice they look slightly underweight make sure to feed them well to get them strong and healthy before they meet your existing flock.

Quarantining should last anywhere from 7 to 31 days. The longer you quarantine your new chickens the safer it is for the existing flock, because you have more time to spot any illness/disease.

During this quarantine period make sure you thoroughly wash your hands in-between visiting your new chickens and existing flock. This will prevent any disease and infections spreading between the two separate camps.

Introduce Your New Chickens Slowly

We can’t stress this next point enough- don’t rush introducing your new chickens. Even if your new chickens don’t need quarantining, don’t just place them straight in with your existing flock. This will cause lots of unnecessary trouble and fighting.

You need a period of time where your existing flock can see the new chickens but can’t ‘touch’ them. The easiest way to achieve this is to place the new chickens in their own pen which is placed next to the existing pen. This way, your existing flock can get use to the new chickens without instantly squabbling.

Another popular method is to place a crate inside the existing pen and place your new chickens inside this crate. We’ve not used this technique as this is a more aggressive tactic.

Whichever method you decide to use, it’s important that for around a week your new chickens are visible but kept separate from your existing flock.

Give Your Chickens a Proper Introduction

After you have successfully quarantined and ‘visually introduced’ your new chickens it’s time to physically introduce them to each other.

If your chickens free range, the best way to introduce them is let the new chickens out first to free range and then after a few minutes open the existing coop up and let your existing flock join the new chickens to free range.

If your chickens don’t free range and are in a pen then the same principal applies, place the new chickens in the pen first and then let your existing flock out to greet the new chickens.

When your existing flock ‘greet’ the new chickens you will find there will be some scraps and jostling as they establish the new pecking order. This is perfectly normal and is a necessary step when successfully introducing new chickens. You should only stop this jostling if one of the chickens looks injured or starts to bleed- you don’t want your chickens to experience any permanent injuries.

If you find that the jostling is getting more and more intense and it lasts more than several minutes, separate the new chickens and re-introduce them again tomorrow. Continue to do this once a day until within a few minutes of introducing them, they have settled down.

You will find that each breed reacts to new chickens differently. Hybrids and Buff Orpington’s are normally very laid back and welcome newcomers. However you may find that Silkies or Rhode Island Reds can be very territorial and don’t take well to new chickens.

After the chickens have met and can stay outside together it’s time for the final play- that’s moving the new chickens from their crate and into the existing coop. You should find that after free ranging for the day the new chickens will follow the flock into the coop and settle themselves in. However, if this doesn’t happen and they try to return to their old crate- let them.

Then, during the night take the chickens out of their crate and place them into the existing coop.

How Long Will It Take To Introduce My New Chickens?

All of the steps above might seem time consuming and unnecessary to some backyard chicken keepers out there. However, in our experience it’s better not to rush these things and make sure due diligence is paid.

Quarantining: This shouldn’t last more than a month. This will give you plenty of time to effectively assess the new chickens and treat any illnesses which they may have.

Visual Introductions: A week here is plenty of time for the existing flock to get used to having the new chickens in their presence.

Physical Introductions: If you get lucky you will only need to do this once and they will be fine. However if you have a more aggressive/territorial breed of chicken it might take 3-4 attempts to successfully physically introduce them.

Settling In: After the chickens have been introduced you need to keep a close eye on them the following week. Make sure they are all eating and drinking properly and also keep an eye on egg production. Sometimes when you introduced new chickens to the flock they go off lay.

So in total you are looking at around 5-6 weeks from getting your new chickens home to fully integrating them into your existing flock.

Special Circumstances

Introducing baby chicks to adults

If you let nature take its course and have a broody hen that hatches her own eggs, she will protect her own chicks. However if you buy an incubator and hatch your own chicks and try to introduce them into your existing flock you’re going to have problems.

For the first 15-16 weeks you need to separate the chicks and keep them in their own pen. You need to wait until the chicks have their feathers and are a similar size to the chickens in the existing flock. Once they are a similar size you can follow the process above without the quarantine stage.

Mixing Breeds

If you are intending to introduce different breeds into your flock then this can also cause some unique issues- the main concern being the potential size difference.

Larger breeds will always be more dominant so it isn’t fair to introduce a smaller breed (i.e. Silkies) to a larger breed (i.e. Jersey Giant) as the larger breed will bully the smaller breeds.

I know some backyard chicken keepers who have successfully integrated smaller and larger breeds into a flock but it can be difficult.

Tips and Tricks

Relocate Both Flocks: If possible when you introduce the new chickens, move the existing coop and pen to a new area so the existing chickens and the new chickens are starting with a new piece of land.

Same Size Matters: Try to only introduce chickens which are a similar size to your existing flock.

Extend Before You Introduce: Ensure there is enough room in your existing coop and pen before the introduction of new chickens.

Isolate Aggressive Birds: If you notice one chicken in particular is being overly aggressive to the newcomers, place the aggressive chicken in isolation for a few days to put her in check.

Distract With Treats: When you do physically introduce the new chickens make sure to have some treats at the ready to use as a distraction if needed.

Don’t Introduce Just One: Make sure you don’t introduce just one new chicken. Instead introduce at least two new chickens so the jostling/bullying from the existing pack is spread between them.

Comments

  1. Susan Nolan says

    I introduced an 8 month old egg laying hen to my 6 chicken flock. She gets along very well with the other chickens, but she has not laid an egg for 5 days. Will she be OK? She is VERY sweet and I am worried about her. I have shown her the nesting box several time. Thank you Susan

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Susan,

      Nothing to be too concerned about yet!

      Give her a week or two to settle in properly first 🙂

  2. Frank Davis says

    I have 3 hens now about 8-9 weeks old. I just bought 2 more baby chicks, that are few days old.
    When should i introduce them to the other 3 ?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Frank,

      I would wait until the new chicks are 18-20 weeks than introduce them to the slightly older chicks!

      Claire

  3. New to Chickens says

    Thank you for this post. I have four 5-week old pullets (3 EEs and 1 Silkie) that have been outside full time for about 10 days now. I also have three 3-week old chicks who are still in the house (1 of each: White Crested Polish, Barred Rock, & RIR). I am offering the little girls a bit of time outside in the run each day while the older girls are ranging, but they naturally cross paths from time to time and the white head of the WCP is very interesting for 1 EE and the Silkie to peck at. No injuries and doesn’t seem aggressive, just more bossy and curious. I’d like to move the littles outside in a couple of weeks. Any tips? Thank you for your time!

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi,

      Yes it will seem very interesting to them and the only way you can stop them is to try and get them use to the WCP. Just follow the advice in the article and gradually increase the amount of time they spend together- make sure to keep a close eye on them for the first few times and if they squabble too much break them up!

      Good luck,

      Claire

  4. Patricia Lambert says

    Hi I have 5 weeks old RIR baby chickens (6 of them) today and last night I was asked to take this a week and half old Plymouth Rock baby chick who was saved from being born to splayed legs that my son nursed its legs back to strength it by added with rubber band and a straw like brace in between its legs, surprised that it bounced back and jumping around such a little feisty chook 3 days ago, I couldn’t say no to my son who begged me to take it home as his landlord wouldn’t let him having it at his apt backyard. How can I introduce it to my baby chickens, and when? It’s so tiny like 3/4 smaller size, but a fighter who loves to jump my hand and wanted my affection holding him or her dearly!! It even likes my son’s little dog that it wanted to play with the dog! Many thanks for any advice to get it together my other chicks.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Patricia,

      RIRs aren’t known for being aggressive so they might ‘take her under their wing’ straight away.

      If it was me though, I would wait until she is around 18-20 and the same size as the RIRs before introducing them 🙂

      Let me know how you get on,

      Claire

  5. william vandegrift says

    We have 6 bantam 6 week old chick’s and just got 6 new week old araucana chicks. Will they be able to share a coop?

    If so, when should we introduce them?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi William,

      Certainly, they will be able to share a coop. I would wait until the araucana’s get to a similar size as the bantams (should be a few weeks) and then introduce them using the steps outlined in this article 🙂

      Let us know how you get on,

      Claire

  6. Honore S. says

    We have 1 year old Red Star/ Sex Link hens and have 5 week old mix breed pullets who have a lot of there feathers and seem to be getting too large for their brooder so we want to move them out with the older chickens and dont have a coop for them. Once we tried setting one in the coop and the pecking order of the flock came in and pecked one of them and started bawking really loudly, what should I do?
    Thanks,
    Honore

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Honore,

      I would gradually introduce them to each other.

      You can expect the occasional pecking at the start- just make sure no blood is drawn!

      Claire

  7. Cirsten Pease says

    Hello Claire,
    I was wondering the breeds I have if will be good breeds to put together. The oldest ones are Amber-links pullets they are 2 months old. I have 3 Wyondotties are 6 weeks old (2 males & 1 hen). They are in different fenced in areas in the coop & outside runs.They see each other & the amber-links really do not like them. Last but not least I have 5 silkies , 3 Buff Orringtons & one swedish flower they are 4 weeks old & altogether. They are all good to each other, so far. Will these breeds mix well together when the time comes? With the silkies I will keep them in their own coop because they are the the little breed ones.
    Thank you so much,
    Cirsten

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Cirsten,

      Yes you’re right with the silkies you will always need to keep them separated from the larger hens.

      In my experience Buff Orpingtons will mix with just about any breed and get on with them fine- the same with Wyandotte’s. However, you can always get one or two trouble makers regardless of the breed! You have got some very relaxed breeds so you should be fine, however you will just have to wait until you introduce them to each other to be absolutely certain.

      Make sure you do this gradually and follow the steps in the article to increase your chances of success Cirsten!

      Best of luck,

      Claire

  8. Carolyn says

    We have 3 older hens (4 years old), 1 Isa brown and 2 welsummers. We plan on introducing our 3 new pullets, 16 weeks old soon. We have had them since they were 7 weeks old. They are 1 Leghorn, 1 Rhode island red and 1 Australorp. Any tips.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Carolyn,

      I would follow this article and importantly, make sure they are a similar size before introducing them!

      Good luck,

      Claire

  9. Kimloveschickens says

    We have two different flocks of chickens in side by side coops. One made of three 2 month old chickens and one with five 4 month old chickens. A dog killed two from the little flock and now there’s only one! The flocks free range everyday together and are used to each other. Do I keep the one separate or put her in with the others or get her new chicks? She will be so lonely.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Kim,

      It really depends how well they get on- if they are ‘use’ to each other then you can introduce her now. If they don’t get on well then I would wait until she is around 20 weeks then introduce her to the older flock…

      Claire

  10. S. Boykin says

    We have 4 hens that are a year and a half old and 2 hen that are 8 months old. We raised all from chicks. We put the younger a ones out near the older ones about 4 months ago so they could get aquatinted with their runs next to each other. After about a month we started letting them mingle out in the yard about once a week. One of the young ones will run away from the older ones but the other one just lays down and let’s the older ones jump on her and peck her and just plain attack her, sometimes they gang up on her. She doesn’t run or try to fight back. Do you have any advice? We really want to get them all together and get rid of the temporary coop but we are afraid they will kill her.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi,

      Unfortunately when introducing hens to each other they will ‘scrap’ to establish the pecking order. It shouldn’t happen continuously though just when they are introducing. If this bullying is constant then you are right to separate them.

      However if this bullying is only when they are introduced then they will settle down eventually.

      I would reintroduce them and ‘shoo’ the older birds away from the younger one a few times and you will likely find they all settle down!

      Let me know how you get on,

      Claire

  11. Lynne says

    I have an existing flock of 8 chickens (4 buff orps, 1 unonown breed, 1 golden comet. 2 americaunas). I’m trying to introduce 4 new chicks (3 buffs and 1 cuckoo Moran) and it’s not going well. One americauna is the bully. The mostly attacks the Moran. I tried putting two buffs in at night but in the morning she attacks again- often the other birds follow her lead. They don’t free range often because of the neighbor’s dog. I have the new chicks sharing a rabbit cage but space is going to be an issue soon (they’re 9 weeks old). Can you elaborate on the idea of putting the bully in a time out? Can I put her in the rabbit cage and put the chicks in the coop all at one with the others? How long would you expect this to last? How would I re-introduce her back to the coop? I tried reasoning with her (while eating a chicken sandwich) but she won’t listen.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Sorry to hear about your troubles Lynne!

      So the general idea is to remove the bully whilst the new hens settle into the existing flock. You can remove the bully and place them in a separate pen for a couple of days- if you don’t have a pen then a cage/large dog carrier will work.

      After a few days reintroduce the bully into the flock and they shouldn’t be anywhere near as aggressive.

      Let me know if you need anymore advise!

      Claire

  12. Mandy says

    Hello

    I have one hen left in my original flock of 7. We’d like to add 6 or so Pullets to the coop.

    Will we still need to keep the new Pullets separate from our one existing hen?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Mandy,

      In this case I would go ahead and introduce the pullets to your original flock member straight away.

      Just make sure the pullets are clean and aren’t carrying any disease so your original flock member doesn’t catch anything!

      Claire

  13. Paula Baker says

    Hi,
    I bought 6 chicks in March to re-start my coop. The other flocks I have had in years past have fallen prey to neighbors dogs, coyotes..etc. They were sexed female chicks, but one turned out to be a rooster. After I had them for about 4-6 weeks, I noticed one of them was being bullied so much that she was not leaving the crouched position in the corner. She was weak and not eating or drinking. I pulled her out and after examining her, decided to keep her in a box in the kitchen. All of the chickens are now 16 weeks old. The one that was in my home is in a large dog cage on the back deck, and is doing fine, Although she is smaller than the others. I need to introduce her to the flock because I have a predator that has discovered she is there and has tried the last two nights to get to her. Should I just put the cage into the hen house and leave her for a few days..then introduce her after that?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Paula,

      I would suggest the ‘night’ introduction method- when the hens are roosting and asleep, go into the coop and place the hen onto the roosting bars with the rest of the flock.

      Then then following morning just let them out as your normally would and keep en eye on them.

      You should expect some commotion but certainly nothing to serious!

      Claire

  14. Heather says

    We recently added 3 new pullets to our existing flock of 3. Since their area is pretty large, we put a temporary fence down the middle and put my kids old fort/play house inside the “new girls’ area” with a nesting bar inside. They observed each other for nearly a week, so we took the fence down and let them officially meet. It has been a few days and gone very well. My concern is that the new girls retreat to the fort ever night instead of joining my old ladies in the real coop. Will they eventually go in when they are fully integrated or should I start putting them in there after dark to enforce that this is their home? Also, we have 2 1/2 acres (unfenced) and we free range the older ladies. When is okay for my young ladies to go out too without fear that they will disappear?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Heather,

      I’m so happy they have been introduced successfully and that everyone is getting along nicely!

      When you first get pullets/chicks they become attached to the first place that they roost which is why they keep going back to the fort. I would suggest for the next few nights encourage them to roost with your older flock by blocking access to the fort.

      After a few days when they become comfortable roosting with the older flock you can then remove the fort completely.

      Again, once your pullets are familiar roosting in the new coop (after a few weeks) they will be ok to free range- supervised at first then on their own!

      Claire

  15. denise r says

    I received 3 baby chicks and 2 turned out to be roosters. My sister just gave me 3 hens that she raised and are 2 weeks older than my birds. These hens do not like my roosters! I have them separated and every day let them ”meet” each other and it does not go good with them and the roosters. Will this behaivour stop as they get to know each other?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Denise,

      As they become more familiar with each other it will settle down, however with Roosters they will always seek to state their authority so some scuffles is inevitable I’m afraid,

      Claire

  16. Rhys says

    Hi, a week ago I purchased three 7 week old Barnevelder hens. Yesterday I added 1 6 week old Salmon Faverolle and another 7 week old Faverolle. The Faverolles have grown up together and get on great but one is a fair bit smaller than the barnies. They are currently separated but in sight of each other. How long do you think it will take to fully integrated them aa there isn’t much of an age difference and they are all quite young?

    Thanks.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Rhys,

      Once you are sure the other chicks aren’t carrying any infections/disease then I would integrate straight away 🙂

      Claire

  17. Kirsten says

    Thank you for this post. We have 1 brand new australorp pullet to introduce to our flock of 5 (mix of australorp, ISA brown and leghorn). We have a limit of 6 hens where we live so I cannot add any more. I have her separated in a “pen” within the free ranging area of the others. I let her out once or twice but she was badly bullied. I am happy to leave her where she is for a week while the others get used to her, but I’m worried she’ll get lonely. Should I keep her apart for the whole week, or keep trying to introduce her for short periods each day?

    Thanks,
    Kirsten

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Kirsten,

      I think its best if you keep trying to reintroduce her each day- if possible introduce them to each other during a free range session so the australorp can run for cover at times if needed…

      Claire

      • Kirsten says

        Thanks Claire, it’s working a treat and for such a young hen the australorp is pretty clever and stays near the others but always close to the coop (they free range all day), so she can duck in there as soon as it gets too much.

        Kirsten

  18. Greg says

    Hi I have 200 Cornish giants that are 5 weeks old with 4 bronze orlopp turkeys that are 8 weeks. They get along fine. I also have 20 mixed birds for laying. Only 3 roosters in the group. The 20 range from 10 weeks to 20 weeks and I tried to introduce today and there was nothing but fighting. The meat birds are growing too fast to keep separate for much longer. Will things calm down soon?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Greg,

      This is a lot of birds to introduce to each other so some fighting will be unavoidable. Have you tried gradually introducing them to each other using the neighbouring coops method?

      Claire

  19. karen vern says

    hi, i have some silkie chickens, i bought then separately and while 2 smaller one have mixed the other 2 keep attacking the baby ones. what can i do to stop it.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Karen,

      Is sounds to me like there is a large age gap between the two chickens which you are introducing. I would wait until the silkies grow to become the same size as your existing flock and then introduce them again,

      Claire

      • karen vern says

        not sure of the age – maybe about 7 – 9 months old. the older 2 silkies have just started laying eggs but they fight each other in fact the blue silkie fights all hens but she wants to mix and the white silkie fights only the white baby silkie. the gold one the older white silkie gets on with.. i will separate the baby ones until they get older

  20. Charlotte says

    Hi, we introduced 2 15/16 week chickens to our existing of 4 24 week olds. The older were only with us one day when we introduced the new ones. It has bern one week and they are ok after a week free ranging and if the young ones are in the run and they are free ranging they don’t bother them. We had one real bully so we isolated her for one day, she seems calmer so far. However every now and again the fighting starts again and they will not seem to join up as a flock. I feel bad that the young ones are not having much of a life running scared and it’s really stressing me out. Will they all sort themselves out soon and flock together? Am I doing something wrong?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Charlotte,

      It sounds like you are doing the right thing and introducing them in a neutral free range environment.

      A few scuffles are unavoidable and given a few weeks they will settle down once the pecking order is established 🙂

      Claire

  21. Kate morgan says

    Hi , I have 2 x frizzles and just bought 2 silkie point of lays home , will they ever be able to be put together ? I don’t want my little silkies attacked , should I keep them in seperate coop ?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Kate,

      Yes they will be able to live together 🙂

      Follow the steps outlined in the article and they will be fine!

      Claire

  22. Kelly says

    Hello!
    I currently have 3 hens and one rooster (he is about 2 months younger than my hens), and my hens absolutely hate him. He is so sweet and not mean at all.
    I recently was asked to take someone’s 3 hens due to the family is moving and will be traveling for 2 days in a car and doesn’t want to stress them during the ride or them end up dying due to having to ride in a moving van (we are in Arizona).

    What is the best way to introduce my 3 to the new 3 (the new 3 are roughly 3 months older than my 3). I have one coop, and they all free roam in my yard throughout the day.

    Help, I am picking them up tomorrow – do I need to get another coop for the next 3?

    Thanks,

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Kelly,

      You don’t need another coop, but you do need something they can roost in during the next week or two whilst you quarantine them.

      If you are certain they don’t have any flu/cold/mites then you can skip past quarantine and go to the integration!

      Follow the steps in the article and they will integrate fine 🙂

      Claire

  23. Orpmom says

    Hello! I have 13 chickens that are 12 weeks old. We are culling the roosters except one. So we will then have 1 barred rock roo and one hen, plus 3 easter egger hens. Today i got 15 sexed pullets. How and when would be the best way to integrate the new chicks with the 5 older birds? Thanks!

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Orpmom,

      Once the younger pullets are at least 2/3 the size of the adult hens you can integrate them.

      Claire

  24. Karen says

    Hi – I have 2 French Marans, Wyandotte, Pekin, seabright, dutch, Orpington Bantams and a Silkie who are all around 12 weeks now and were introduced together and grew up at the hatchery from around 4 weeks. One Pekin turned out to be a cock and I had to take him back as unfortunately neighbours would not allow. I have had them home for two weeks and all doing well. The hatchery have asked if I want a replacement for my Pekin and take two new ones of the same sort of age or two that are around 16 weeks advising that I should introduce at night by popping the new hen(s) in the coop and as they are still young I shouldn’t have problems, but I am not sure. Are slightly older birds ok/should I go for birds the same age and still section them off for a week as you advise? thank you

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Karen,

      I would definitely not take older hens or larger hens- make sure they are the same size and age.

      Also, you can place them in the coop and night but the biggest problem is knowing if they new hens have any disease or not.

      If you know the breeder well and are certain they are healthy introduce them at night as discussed, however if not then I would recommend separating them for a few weeks.

      Good luck,

      Claire

  25. Stacey says

    Hello, I have a flock of silkie chicks consisting of two pullets, five hens, and two young roosters (six months old)
    Two of our hens are currently on eggs that are due to hatch over the coming week. I’m really not sure how to integrated them. Any advice would be very much appreciated!
    Thank you in advance ☺

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Stacey,

      If your hens are siting on eggs whilst still in the flock they don’t need integrating.

      Moma hen will take care of it 🙂

      Claire

  26. Claudia Neary says

    Hi, I have 5 one year old chickens (3 RIR & 2 Ameraucanas). I also have 6 barred rocks and 2 Ameraucanas that are 19 weeks old that were in a side by side separated runs. All 13 were together today for 6 hours. The barred rocks picked on one Amercaucana and she was bleeding from her back. So I pulled her and put her in a dog crate. Within minutes, the BRs started picking on the other Ameraucana. So I took her out too. What should I do? Free range all 13 of them and put them all in at night?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Yes I think you’re exactly right Claudia.

      I would free range them and then in the evening, when they are roosting, move the younger ones into the main coop 🙂

      Claire

  27. Esteban Mendez says

    I have a 5 year old Polish hen that lost her partner to a raccoon about a month ago. She is still laying eggs but needs a new friend. I have a friend who has a Barred Plymouth Rock who is 2 who is super sweet but dominating. The plymouth rock comes from a multiple chicken home and is dominating. What do you recommend for my 5 year old backyard city chicken who is meeting another city chicken that might be a little bigger and younger?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Esteban,

      I definitely think you’re doing the right thing bringing another hen in for your Polish.

      Follow the steps in the article and make sure you keep a close eye on them for the first few days.

      Claire

  28. Robin Lyttles says

    Hi I have 2 19 week old red star hens. I got 2 olive eggers 3 weeks ago. They have been quarantined for this time. Lately when the older 2 free range they have walk around the little ones cage. I have not seen any aggressive twads the little ones. My biggest concern is the oliver eggers are way smaller then the red stars. How much longer should wait to fully introduce them to the older ones.

  29. Lisa says

    Hi — I have a friend who is moving and looking to re-home a few chickens. He has a year-old araucana I will probably take off his hands.

    I actually have two mini-flocks. One is a year-old set of golden sex-link, black laced wyandotte, rhodebar, and cream legbar. The other is six younger pullets, about 16 weeks old right now: three buff orpintons, two rhodebar, and a plymouth rock. They have separate coops and runs right now (I intend to get one bigger coop and incorporate them next year). So my question is, which do you think would be the better flock to introduce the araucana, There is room in both their coops for a new girl. My inclination is to re-home with the younger, bigger flock. Do you think that makes sense?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Lisa,

      As the araucana is a year old they will likely be too big for your younger 16 week old pullets.

      Personally, I would introduce the araucana with the older flock.

      Claire

  30. Shelley says

    Hi – I have a 4 month old Buff Orpington and I’d like to get a second BO to join her.

    How long will she be happy alone while I’m looking for a similar aged BO? Can I put them together right after I bring the new BO home?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Shelley,

      I wouldn’t put them in together straight away. I would follow the stages outlined in this article and you will have no problem!

      Claire

  31. chris says

    Recently I received a 3 month RIR rooster and have beeen trying to get my three 4 month old black star sex link hens to accept him but the lead hen keeps him in the nesting box of the coop and will not leave him out only to eat and drink. I have seperated her from the flock but the others then take on the role of picking on him. He refuses to stand his ground to any of the hens. I even bathed him thinking the scent of his old flock was causing problems. So my question is what else can I do make the pecking order shift in his favor and will my rooster ever stand up for himself. I would hate to make him noodle soup since he is very kind and gentle.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Chris,

      It sounds to me like its just an age and size thing. Roosters don’t normally turn territorial until they reach maturity around at least 5 months old.

      Once he matures I expect he will have no problem adjusting the pecking order in his own favour!

  32. Inez says

    Hi, we have 4 Australorps that are about 14 weeks old. We are getting 2 Silkies in a few days who are 9 months old. We were planning to letting them all roam in the backyard before they go to sleep. I can close off part of the coop to keep them separate but visual to each other, but I only have one actual ‘house’ they sleep in. Will this cause big problems?
    Thanks for your advice!

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Inez,

      Yes- you ideally need somewhere separate for the new girls to sleep.

      If you don’t I would try to introduce them earlier in the day to avoid any problems during roosting time!

      Claire

  33. Charles Momanyi says

    So since late june my dad had purchased three catalanas. This morning he got two dominiques and three of what i think are more catalanas,but i havent seen them because this morning my dad straight up put all the newcomers in and now the three we already had are bullying and wont let them come out from there hiding cause there hiding under a little dog house prop on some wood and if they come out the three chase and try to peck. Now i tried to go see if they would let them at least sleep in the house but theyre making them sleep in dirt so at this point we dont know what to do and how long it will take to get used to them cause right now they wont let them come out to eat or drink.So i was wondering if you could help .Thanks for your time.

  34. Autumn says

    I have a 4 month old, very sweet and timid sussex hen that is the only one remaining after a bird dog took the rest of the flock. We are going to get a few more soon as she is already lonely and “lost” after just a couple days. Weird as it sounds, she is a snuggler. My daughter will walk around with her for hours in her arms. That being said, I am a little nervous on what age/breed to introduce. Regardless of the decision, I will certainly be cautious and take my time blending them. However, because she is so sweet and timid, I am wondering if adding chicks would be a better fit than established adults. Any thoughts on if age will matter or breed “STAY AWAY” suggestions? I know many of their personalities vary by genetic strains but any aggressive known breeds I want to fully avoid? I do not want to bring in new chickens and my existing sweetheart turns into the one to be bullied. . .

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Autumn,

      The safest route is to introduce a younger smaller breed into the flock.

      Probably goes without saying but Gamecock are certainly to be avoided. Buff orpingtons however, are generally known for their great temperament!

      Claire

  35. Katherine says

    I have 2 Barred Plymouth Rock 2yos, and 1 5 month old EE. We have tried everything imaginable to introduce them gradually, but the poor EE just cowers in a corner for hours till we put her back in the small coop immediately beside the larger. The BR just terrorize her! Would it be better if I acquired another similar sized new chicken and tried to introduce them both at the same time, or will this only complicate things further?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Katherine,

      It is always better to introduce at least two chickens at a time yes- so it certainly wont hurt to get her a friend before you introduce them!

  36. Rosie says

    Hi, I was thinking about adding to my flock of 3 chickens but I wasn’t sure if I should get the same number as my pre-existing flock (3) or would it be better to just get 2?
    Thanks 🙂

  37. Kerry says

    Hi
    A week ago today I got my first hens from a local farmer – 3 Barred Rock, 1 RIR & one unknown (some kind of Sussex possibly). They were all kept in a large run together. I am hoping to go later and get 1 more RIR – would you see any issue with direct integration into the coop this evening? They have been free ranging all day in my garden.

    Thanks!

    Kerry

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Kerry,

      Providing they free range together during the day and have no infections then you can do this in a day yes!

      Claire

  38. Susan says

    Hello, I have a friend with one sole survivor of a weasel attack. A five year old White Leghorn. I have a mixed flock of buffs, red sex link, australorps, wyandotes and an americauna. They are 6 months old. My friend has asked if I would take her chicken so that she can be in a flock again. I’m considering it, but would like some advise for adding a lone chicken.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Susan,

      I generally advice people not to introduce a single hen into the flock as they can be excessively bullied.

      However, if your flock is good natured and you don’t have any particularly nasty flock bullies then it is possible…

      Claire

  39. Misty Sinistore says

    I bought eight white leghorn chicks back in june. four of them got sick and I had to separate them. They are doing very well now but have been separated for awhile and I want them back with original flock. Can I just put them back in or do I have to follow the process as if they were new chickens? Thank you.

  40. Elaine says

    I have two RIRs and two barred rocks. We’ve been trying to integrate two Americaunas and a Buff Orpington into the flock. They are all approximately the same age. We are finally to the point that they are roosting together but the original four pretty much body block they other three from coming out of the coop into the run and prevent them from eating and drinking properly. I’ve resorted to supervised meals where I stand in the run and make sure the new birds get a good amount of food and water before leaving. The bullying is done by all of my original hens. It’s been about two weeks since the flocks have been living together. I’m just wondering if there is an end in sight. Pretty much all of the chickens have stopped laying consistently.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Elaine,

      Sorry to hear about the troubles you’ve been having!

      Have you tried to technique mentioned in the article- to separate the most troublesome bully?

      Claire

      • Elaine says

        The barred rocks are both big bullies. I’ve separated them and one RIR and let the other flock with the others. So far the one with the three new hens are doing ok. How far apart should I space each new reintroduction? I was thinking three days.

  41. PATRICIA says

    I have four 7 month old Isa browns hens. They have a 8ft x 16 ft coup/pen and also spend time most days wondering around a very large yard. I was considering getting a few chicks. I was going to crate them within the large coup with lamp. At what point could I start including them with my other girls? I haven’t notice any pecking order and they just lay eggs and never look back so I cant fake hatching.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Patricia,

      If you don’t have a broody hen you will need to raise the chicks yourself and then introduce them to your flock when they have grown up- around 15-16 weeks 🙂

      Claire

  42. Courtney Gane says

    Hi, I have a bit of a dilemma.

    Yesterday our leader Hen died after she got out and the dog got to her.
    So we got two new hens straight away.
    However, one in particular, is really really small. Maybe 6 to 8 weeks old, our hens are probably triple that age, they’ve only just started laying.

    Whilst they do go after both new hens, the 7 original hens mostly go around bashing the younger one.

    We kept them separate for a few hours yesterday by keeping the original flock in the run and the two new ones in the pen, then we put them all together for bed time but this morning they’re still going after this little hen.

    What should I do?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Courtney,

      I would keep a very close eye on her- is she getting access to food and water?

      If they continue to bully her then she needs separating until she grows in size- then you can reintroduce her (ideally not on her own)…

      Claire

  43. Janet says

    Hi, There’s a single hen that showed up 2-3 weeks ago at a friend’s house. She wants it gone. It’s banded. I’m going to her house tomorrow morning to try to catch her and find her owner. If I can’t find them, I have a flock of 3 hens that are 2.5yrs old. I know I shouldn’t introduce just one. What can I do? Was told by a chicken owner at a flock swap to just put new chickens in the coop on the roost at night and that the chickens would wake up in the morning and be like: “okay.” We didn’t discuss just one hen and I haven’t read this anywhere. Need advise.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Janet,

      Whilst it isn’t ideal to introduce a single hen you CAN.

      You’re also right, the best way to introduce a single hen is by placing her on the roost with your flock at night time.

      Claire

  44. Leslie says

    I have 6 – 16 week chickens in a coop at night and free range during the day. I also have 3 – 8 week old chicks that I put in the coop protected by a cage to start the introductions. The older chickens saw the new ones for a week. I just recently took the barrier away. The younger chicks only come out of their “house” after the older chicks go out for the day. A couple of the older chicks will chase them back into the smaller house if they see them. How long will it take if ever if the older chicks will let the younger ones into the flock?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Leslie,

      They will be better integrated into the flock once they have grown in size and are a similar size to the existing flock.

      So I imagine another couple of months yet,

      Claire

  45. Kelly says

    Hello! We have a Belgium d’anver (we think??) who was re-homed to our neighbor, but his flock wouldn’t accept her so she came to us. She is the only bird in our tiny coop (3 bird max if not free ranging). We also have three 4 week old Wyandotte chicks. The chicks have been housed in the house, while the bantam hen is outside in the coop. That said, it’s been cold here so Lucky has been coming inside in the evenings, and we have let her “free range” in our large master bathroom with the chicks several times. She mostly stays away from them, runs to us as if she is afraid actually. But when the chicks get close she does make some noise and pecks a little. Nothing terrible. The chicks are roughly half her size, maybe a little bigger. When and how should we integrate them? We will be adding 3 chicks to s flock of 1 hen! I should mention that the largest chick is quite dominant of the 2 other chicks, I’m almost more worried about lucky with this one chick (we strongly suspect she is actually a roo). I assume we should introduce them in the next couple of weeks as the chicks are quickly reaching the size of lucky since she’s a bantam breed. So what do I do?! Thank you in advance!!

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Kelly,

      I would recommend introducing them when they are a similar size. As you single hen is a bantam I expect this will be very soon 🙂

      Claire

  46. Chantelle says

    I have just got 2 buff sussex and currently already have 2 silkies there’s a huge size difference, do you think this could work?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Yes it can work.

      Just make sure to introduce the buff’s before they get bigger than the silkies 🙂

      Claire

  47. Angie says

    Our friends had 12 hens that were attacked by coyotes. Only one Cochin survived. She’s very sweet and shy; about 1 year old. We have 4 mo old pullets including 1 Rhode Island Red. We agreed to temporarily house the new chicken since it doesn’t have a safe home. We put her with the new flock at night in the coop. Unfortunately this morning I witnessed the Rhode Island Red and the Americana being overly aggressive and pecking at the new Cochin. I separated them for now. What a challenge!!

    Any suggestions?

  48. Julie says

    Hello!
    I live on a fairly busy street, yet somehow I ended up with a chicken visitor, who long story short, is here with me most of the time now 🙂 I LOVE HER! I’ve never had chickens before. But I’m giving her pellets and scratch & worms, etc. We’re buds! haha. I really want to catch her, and put her in the coop / pen I bought a couple months ago. I keep going back & forth about catching her, because I don’t want to mess her up in any way, since she’s used to being a roamer.. but I want her to be safe! And there are raccoons and who knows what else around here. From what I’ve seen, she sleeps up in a tree.
    Does anyone have any advice or input for me? Please? 🙂 Thank you!
    Julie

  49. Amanda says

    Hello!

    We got 5 chickens from a friend 3 weeks ago (1 is a Buff O and about 2, 1 Buff O and a Rhode Island Red are are 1.5 and 2 Rhode Island Reds are 6 months) they are all fine together.

    Two weeks ago we got 5 silver wyandotte, the are currently 6 weeks old. Last week we got 4 Easter Eggers and 3 Buff Os that are currently 1.5 weeks old. We have the older girls outside in a coop and they have a 40’x40′ area they range in during the day. We have them in 2 separate crates right not.

    Can we combine the younger chicks? Should we keep all the ages separate and introduce them to the older girls in 2 different stages?
    Thank you!

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Amanda,

      I wouldn’t recommend introducing the chicks until they are the a similar size (so they can protect themselves).

      So yes, introduce them at 2 different stages 🙂

      Claire

  50. Sonia Leonard says

    Hi Claire, I have two two year old light sussex,and need to introduce four puletts, two australorps and two barred rocks. Puletts are fifteen weeks and have had two weeks in safe zo e in run.The older hens will sometimes still charge at the wire when they see them.I am reluctant to let them free range together as puletts are too flighty and could go over the fence. Do you think I should try the once a week visits with big girls or wait a bit longer till hens stop threatening them. Feeling quite apprehensive.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Sonia,

      The occasionally charge isn’t uncommon. I personally would try to integrate them and keep a close eye on it. If the older hens get too dominant then separate them and place the pullets back into the safe zone!

      Claire

  51. Sonia Leonard says

    ,pleased to report I put them in together as you suggested, apart from a bit of biff and peck no harm done. Many thanks Claire.

  52. Julianne says

    Ive had a 2 yr old RIR rooster and hen, I recently bought 2 baby Americaunas, the hen is constantly attacking them and the chicks wont go up inside the cope at night. What can i do? They are free range chickens.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Julianne,

      I would wait until the chicks are at least 15-16 weeks until you introduce them…

      Claire

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *