How to Introduce New Chickens into Your Flock, Questions and Answers

[This article is part of a series that addresses the question of how to introduce new chickens into your existing flock, along with several related questions. To see all articles in this series, visit Flock Integration Series.]

1. How old should the chickens be when I introduce them into the main flock?

We recommend that you wait until the new chickens are nearly the same size as the mature chickens in your existing flock.  Install a temporary partition in your existing coop so that the new chickens can live next to your main flock. For the partition, use something that the chickens can see through and preferably something they can also hear through and smell through, such as mesh or chicken wire.  After a few weeks, remove the partition and let the new chickens mingle with the existing flock.

2. Young chickens require a different diet than mature layers. How do I accommodate this?

If you wait until the younger chickens are nearly the same size as the mature chickens before you combine them into the same flock, they will be ready to eat the same feed as the mature chickens, so having separate feeds will cease to be a concern.

3. The hens in my existing flock are molting?  Will it stress them too much if I introduce chickens now?

If you follow the instructions above, then introducing the new chickens will not cause much additional stress, so it is not necessary to wait until the molt is complete.

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15 Responses to How to Introduce New Chickens into Your Flock, Questions and Answers

  1. Tammy Farnum says:

    I am currently using some orange snow fence that I have had forever and have it hung from post to post giving them approx 6×10 area to roam. It seems to work pretty well; currently the chicks are 7-weeks old and doing great in the coop with the fence. If the fence folds over the chicks practice their flying up on the fence to sit there for a bit and then back into their area. So far the other hens and 1-roster don’t seem to mind. I occasionally have to place the chicks back on their side.

  2. Marion Fortner says:

    I have 50 pullets I am fixing to introduce to my 6 RIR hens that are 4yrs. of age, a little apprehencive about it. The pullets have been in the same coop but seperated for about 2 months now, what is the best way to introduce the new ones?

  3. Dianna Shebala says:

    I ordered chick from you and they arrived safe and are doing well. I had to split the order and will have to introduce the next batch of chicks when they arrive on Aug. 3rd. By that time the chicks I have now will be a month old, will I be able to house them in the same pen or should the new chicks have their own seperate pen?

    • Matthew says:

      I recommend waiting until the chicks are fairly close in size before housing them together.

  4. Rachael Warrington says:

    I have found this very very helpful. We have three sets of chickens, 6 original hens and one rooster, Franklin, 22 teenagers (two of them turned out to be roosters, and they are the best of friends) and 14 young ones. The youngsters are about 15 weeks old and almost the size of the pullets. The teenagers are with the 6 hens and the rooster, and there was a bit of fussing but not much. Franklin has even taken on the teenagers. I think I am going to place the two rooster with the young ones and see if they will take over them.
    But this has given me several ideas on how to make the moving in easier on everyone.

  5. Bob Lutz says:

    Interesting article. I bought 3 “pullet” chicks at a feed store. They were suppose to be Araucanas then Ameracaunas. I believe they are Easter Eggers. I expect one of the “pullets” to be crowing any day now.
    I purchased 27 mixed breed chicks from you delivered in May. I raised all 30 in the same coop divided by the mesh as you mentioned. There is about 4 to 6 weeks age difference between the 3 and the 27. I was going to put them all together when the 27 are 8 to 10 weeks old. They are, Delawares, Wyandottes, Australorps, Red Stars, Orpingtons and Buff Rocks. What age do you think would be best? Thank You, Bob

  6. BRENDA F. says:

    I have tried the suggestions on introducing my new chickens to the old ones. I currently have three pens because they have never been able to get along. The pens are built up next to each other, with chicken wire seperating each pen but they still, after over one year, will not tolerate the other sets. Any other suggestions?
    Thanks so much.

  7. Judi says:

    I’ve got 2 RI Reds that are 26 weeks now and laying daily. They free range the yard during the day and come back to roost in the evening. I’ve only had them for 6 weeks, and now I’ve got 15 new chicks that have grown to a little over 3 weeks old.

    In another week or so the chicks will be ready to go outside to the coop and run since they’re feathering out nicely and I’ll be ready to take back my garage!

    I think I can net off a portion of the run (VERY secure from other animals entering from outside or above) for the chicks so I can keep everyone on the right kind of chick food and layer food. The reds need the nesting boxes in the coop to lay so I shouldn’t get them all into the coop yet right?

    Do you think evening temps in the 60’s will be OK for the younger chicks? Daytime temps have been in the 80’s and 90’s so it’s the nights and inclement weather that worries me about them being out in the run all the time.

    It’s my understanding that the chicks need chick food until 9 weeks and then grower food until 19 weeks. That seems like forever if they have to be separated!

    • McMurray Staff says:

      We recommend starting the chicks off at 90-95 F the first week, then reducing the temperature by 5 degrees each week until you reach 70 degrees. At that point (approximately 6-7 weeks) you shouldn’t need supplemental heat. At 3 weeks, if nighttime temperatures are in the 60s, then you will need supplemental heat.

  8. russ helsens says:

    I like your article about adding new chickens to a flock; I found it very interesting. Thanks, Russ

  9. Linda Myers says:

    We have 27 six week old chicks. Our existing flock consists of 1 four year old hen and a rooster. Is it still advisable to follow above strategy for flock integration or can these newbies mingle with the two old ones earlier than being “nearly the same size”?

    • Matthew says:

      I would recommend following the guidelines in the article. Even though you have only two mature chickens, they can still be very aggressive toward the younger ones with that much age difference.

  10. Paul says:

    I am thinking about introducing a 3 month old speckled sussex to our flock. All members of the flock are 3 months old as well. We have 2 Americaunas, 2 Cinnamon Queens, 1 New Hampshire red, 1 Back Australorp, and 1 Barred rock. They are all hens. Are they all so young that we can do this without fighting? All of ours are mild tempered and handled daily by my 5 children.

    • Matthew says:

      You may still run into some difficulty, since pecking order begins to be established quite young. If possible, I’d recommend housing the Speckled Sussex in a dog carrier in your main coop or in a separate partition adjacent to your main flock for a week or two to let chickens all get used to one another before fully introducing them.

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