How to introduce new birds to your existing flock

Birds of a feather truly do stick together. That’s why it can be a challenging task to bring new birds into your established flock – new flock members often get picked on and harassed by hens who don’t want to share their territory. For a seamless integration of new birds into your flock, there are a couple of tricks that work well. All you need is patience – and some ninja-like moves.

To start with you want to make sure that your coop/run setup is large enough to accommodate the new birds that you are adding. Each adult bird will need 3-4 square feet of space. If bringing in birds from another flock, make sure they have been through a quarantine period of at least 30 days and are healthy.

Keeping new birds in a cage will let them interact with the flock without being harmed.

You’ll want to introduce birds to each other gradually and let them interact without the opportunity of pecking or abuse. To do this, place your new birds inside the run or coop in an area where they can see and get to know each other but where they are still separated. A wire cage works well, but you can also put new birds into a dog crate or use chicken wire to fence off a portion of the area and make two separate spaces.

If introducing new chicks to your flock, you’ll want to make sure they are fully feathered and acclimated to the coop temperature.  You want to keep new birds in their own area and let everyone get to know each other for at least two weeks. Patience is key here, so don’t rush the “getting to know you” phase.

The ninja moves come into play when it is time to introduce the new birds into the existing flock. Wait until night, when it’s dark and all birds are sleeping comfortably. Moving quickly and quietly, you want to take the new birds from their resting spot and put them on the roosts next to your other sleeping birds. When the birds wake up in the morning they are next to another hen that they are familiar with (because they’ve been in close proximity, although separate areas, for several weeks) and they are often tricked into thinking that they’ve always been together.

You’ll want to carefully monitor the everyone during the next week while the pecking order is reorganized, but this approach should give you a fairly seamless merging of your flock.

7 Replies to “How to introduce new birds to your existing flock”

  1. Thank you so much for this invaluble information. I was afraid to get some new chicks, but now I am not! Heading to the feed store right now! <3 U Sincerely, LinZ.

  2. Have raised chicks for many years, and have always had hard time putting new chickens in with our old ones, some are six and seven, but never thought of the idea that I read from your information. My chicks are two months old now, and I will try your suggestion on mainstreaming them into my flock, when the time comes for them to go out with them. Thank You!

    1. If you go through a long introduction phase, then they will probably be fine. Be sure to continue to monitor for any bullying, though.

  3. My girls just had they’re first Birthday Got chicks 2 days ago in brooder now. Can’t wait to to rise this batch of chicks. Hope they turn out as good as my last batch. Thank you Nuttena for your quality poultry food

  4. so how old do you recommend chicks be before putting them in the coops with the older ones? I am so far successfully integrating 6 wks chicks in the yard with the bigger birds but not sure when they can all roost together.

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