Integrating new pullets

The place to discuss everything else to do with chickens.

Moderators: Marigold, victorias poultry

User avatar
Marigold
Moderator
Posts: 5746
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2011 6:27 pm
Location: Hampshire, U.K.

Integrating new pullets

Post by Marigold » Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:18 pm

At long last I've been able to get another three pullets from Chalk Hill Poultry to add to the two I already had, after delinquent Violet had been rehomed with her friend Daisy. My run is 13 sq metres and when I want to divide it, 60% of the area contains the coop, the long perches overlooking the garden, the high perch for leghorns, feeder and drinker. The other 40% contains the dustbath, one long low perch, feeder, drinker, and a temporary box for hens to roost in and to act as a nestbox. The two areas can be divided by a moveable mesh screen. Like this;
image.jpeg
image.jpeg (156.98 KiB) Viewed 481 times
Always previously, I've put any new birds in the smaller end part for their two week quarantine and worming treatment, then I put them in the coop overnight and let them out to make their way with the older girls. But this time I'm trying the other way round, so the 3 new ones are in the larger main area and will have time to get used to roosting in the coop and using the nest boxes and generally finding their way around. As the height of the breeding season isn't the best time to be introducing new birds, I'm hoping that the newbies will find it easier to integrate than if they suddenly arrived in an area where they didn't know their way around, or how to get into the coop. And also that the previous pair will feel dispossessed to some extent and a bit on the back foot, as it were. Both lots are squaring up to each other through the mesh and I don't think they will exactly make friends but maybe, if the new ones have gained a territorial advantage by possession of the coop area, as well as the advantage of numbers, things might be evened up a bit when it comes to the inevitable fisticuffs. The new ones are a leghorn, Pearl, already laying white eggs of course, and Coco, a dark brown hybrid who is laying fantastic extremely dark brown eggs, both 23 weeks old. Nigella is a Chalk Hill Blue hybrid, basically a Columbine, a cross between a Cream Legbar and a Plymouth Rock, which is supposed to give bigger eggs than a pure CLB. She's crouching, almost in lay at 19 weeks and is supposed to deliver a blue or green egg, we shall see. The other side of the screen are the previous girls, Iris, the black one, and Lily, another leghorn, who is the boss and is dying to have a go at Coco, who is determined in her turn to be top hen when she gets a chance.
Do other people try giving the 'home territory' to new birds and temporarily dispossessing the old flock? If so, how did it work out?
Margaid
Part of the Flock
Posts: 1041
Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:27 pm
Location: Shropshire

Re: Integrating new pullets

Post by Margaid » Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:31 pm

Sounds a good idea to me Marigold. Maybe some of the "squaring up" is due to the dispossession and perhaps when they can move back in they'll be happy enough not to indulge in fisticuffs!
User avatar
Tweetypie
Regular Forum Contributor / Laying Well
Posts: 166
Joined: Sun May 13, 2018 8:44 am
Location: Nottinghamshire

Re: Integrating new pullets

Post by Tweetypie » Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:16 am

WOW that looks fantastic, Marigold and what a great idea with the moveable mesh. It looks so inviting, I reckon I will come back on this earth as one of your brood :-)

I love the fact that you have full height to just walk in to. Maybe one day I will get my other half to create something like this. Our outdoor pen is OK, but the coop with the attached run with door, makes it tricky to reach in and out of to clean the indoor pen, OH is 6 foot 3. Takes trial and error with new ventures, I guess. I would like to have a couple of those rhode island reds next year, so will need to make some alterations, as I doubt you can just put two new birds in with the ones you already have.
User avatar
Marigold
Moderator
Posts: 5746
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2011 6:27 pm
Location: Hampshire, U.K.

Re: Integrating new pullets

Post by Marigold » Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:05 pm

Yes, it does make an enormous difference if you can walk in to the run, especially in winter when the roof makes a welcoming microclimate, and also to catch the birds when necessary and to to do all the other daily chores, cleaning up, water and food. Also of course the birds can have perches on two levels - the younger birds and the flighty ones like leghorns enjoy sitting on the upper perch. And it's very secure - no need ever to shut the pophole overnight in the coop, they come and go as they please all year round. If it's big enough to divide, the two areas can be easily set up when you need them, which is quite often, either because you have a poorly hen or for quarantining new ones.

If and when you plan your new run, you could instal a mesh floor fixed to the run sides, which makes it effectively rat proof, saves a lot of problems once the rats find your garden, as they will. We have rats around at the moment but I know they can't get in to the run because grain left out overnight as a test is untouched next morning. And, as I told our concerned neighbours, all the chicken food is kept in a secure galvanised bin, and we only put green stuff like grass and weeds on the compost heap, so any rats are not being fed by us!
Icemaiden
Regular Forum Contributor / Laying Well
Posts: 636
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 12:05 am
Location: Kent

Re: Integrating new pullets

Post by Icemaiden » Fri Jun 08, 2018 6:26 pm

I always do what Marigold's done this time. I divide the run in half with wire mesh & give the new girls the half with the coop in it, to put the established hens on the back foot. The "old" girls have to sleep in the greenhouse for 2 - 3 weeks, but they're always happy enough up on the shelf in a layer of aubiose.

We built our run to be high enough for my 6'1" tall husband to stand up straight in. Although he claimed not to be interested, I figured that they'd win his heart eventually & it's nice that he can look after them when I'm away, without needing to see an osteopath afterwards :roll:
Chickens are a girl's best friend (though diamonds would be nice too!)
User avatar
Marigold
Moderator
Posts: 5746
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2011 6:27 pm
Location: Hampshire, U.K.

Re: Integrating new pullets

Post by Marigold » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:35 pm

All are now in together and talking to each other in a reasonably civilised fashion. The two previous occupants, Lily Leghorn and Iris, are top of the ranking, followed by Coco, the brown egg layer, Pearl, the other leghorn, and the youngest, Nigella the Columbine, who has only just started laying her lovely green eggs. Lily and Iris have resumed roosting in the coop now the whole run is open again, but the new three have decided to roost up on the high perch. Whilst they were being segregated I went down and put them in the coop once they were sleepy, but they are not convinced so I'm leaving them up there. I'm not surprised that Pearl and Nigella like it up high, with their leghorn/legbar genes, but Coco is a much heavier bird and I wonder how long she will feel athletic enough to get up there.
Anyway, we're getting our five a day at the moment.
IMG_0004.jpg
IMG_0004.jpg (18.12 KiB) Viewed 404 times
User avatar
Tweetypie
Regular Forum Contributor / Laying Well
Posts: 166
Joined: Sun May 13, 2018 8:44 am
Location: Nottinghamshire

Re: Integrating new pullets

Post by Tweetypie » Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:26 pm

What lovely, colourful, eggs! Do you do a lot of baking, or do you sell them locally?
I know I said I wouldn't get another hen yet, but I am seriously considering it, as Cindy now only lays an egg 1 in 3 days. I eat a lot of eggs - I eat a high protein diet, with minimal carbs, so I could do with good egg layer.
Would you say the plymouth rock is a nice natured type and a good layer, as I have heard they are. I've seen a couple of advertised locally.
User avatar
Marigold
Moderator
Posts: 5746
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2011 6:27 pm
Location: Hampshire, U.K.

Re: Integrating new pullets

Post by Marigold » Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:59 pm

It would be very difficult and stressful to introduce a single new pullet, as the two you have would object to her and would probably bully her mercilessly. I tried it once, but never again as she was always the 'gooseberry' in the trio, and the other two either ignored her or bullied her. If you wanted to try, it would be best to wait until the autumn, when the breeding season is over and the hens become less territorial. Generally speaking, it's best to introduce a minimum of two, as they bond with each other whilst in quarantine and henceforth have a 'friend' to share the flak when facing up to the older, established hens. My new three are definitely sticking together, as well as roosting together separately on the high perch, so at present it looks as if I've got two mini-flocks in my run. And let's face it, your much-loved exbatts probably won't have many years ahead of them, and their laying powers can only go on decreasing. So you really need at least two more if you want longer-lived and more productive birds. (This is called Morehens Disease, we all get it!) To do this, of course, you need to have a big enough run - we recommend 2 sq.metres minimum floor space per bird - plus adequate space in the coop as well.
With your setup, you would need to make a separate temporarily fenced-off area for the first week at least, (preferably two weeks) for the new hens. During this time you should give them a week's course of Flubenvet wormer, to deal with any worms they would otherwise be contributing to your run. If you get them at about 16-18 weeks old, they will have time to settle down in their new home before starting to lay at maybe 2-22 weeks, and you'll get the benefit of all their eggs from the start. If you want different-coloured eggs, you need different breeds so you can tell who has laid that day. Plymouth Rocks are good but there are lots of others.
Here's a chart of different egg colours. http://www.chickens.allotment-garden.or ... breed-hen/
User avatar
Tweetypie
Regular Forum Contributor / Laying Well
Posts: 166
Joined: Sun May 13, 2018 8:44 am
Location: Nottinghamshire

Re: Integrating new pullets

Post by Tweetypie » Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:06 pm

I did consider it might be fairer to get two from the same breeder, that way, they are already "friends". I was reading up on the best natured types who produce the most eggs. I am not fussed about colour of the egg, as they are just for eating. The plymouth rock came up as a good type, rhode island red and sussex. I would definitely seperate them for at least a week and observe how the ex batt's are with them. I need to get stuff organised before I consider buying any more though.

Have you got some new photo's of your new hens, Marigold?
bigyetiman
Regular Forum Contributor / Laying Well
Posts: 509
Joined: Tue May 16, 2017 8:27 pm

Re: Integrating new pullets

Post by bigyetiman » Mon Jun 18, 2018 3:27 pm

We or rather OH has a similar set up, two runs next to each other divided with mesh and a door that can be hooked back once the new hens and old hens have got used to each other works well with just the minimum of fisticuffs. Usually the old girls are far too busy investigating the area and coop they have been excluded from for a couple of weeks and the new ones are busy poking around in the new bit to them.
We always introduce new birds in the autumn
Post Reply

Return to “Any Other Discussion About Chickens”