When I got my first batch of chicks, I never thought that I would be adding new chicks to an existing flock so quickly. My first attempt at raising chicks was a disaster to say the least.
I ended up having to get more chicks and they were a couple of months younger than my original chicks. It never occurred to me that there might be a problem trying to get both sets of chickens to get along.
Boy was I wrong! Much to my dismay, the older chickens immediately starting picking on the younger chickens. They chased them around mercilessly, pecked them whenever they got the chance and just generally made them miserable. I had to figure out how to get everyone to get along . . . fast!
Separate The New Chickens
I quickly separated everyone and had to figure out how to integrate them peacefully. The first thing I did was hop online and do some research. Luckily for my chickens, it was relatively easy to get them all to get along.
The first step was to keep them separated by a fence so that they could see each other and interact without actually being able to cause any harm. Over the course of a couple of weeks, they all settled in and got used to being next to one another.
As they got more comfortable with each other, allowed them to start mingling for a couple of hours during the day for about a week.
I used several methods to keep them distracted including hanging a head of cabbage, broccoli and some large pieces of melon strategically around the chicken run and the yard. Soon, they were all busy trying to grab their treats and didn’t pay any attention to anything else. All of this activity also wore them out so they were just too tired to start trouble.
I have horses and the chickens love to dig through the manure. Sounds disgusting, I know, but they were in heaven. My flower beds were pretty much done for the year so I piled manure in the beds and the chickens happily scratched it up and churned up my beds for me. It kept them occupied and they actually helped me out!
Surprise – You Have Chicks!
Over the years, I have added new chicks without much trouble at all. One trick that I love is to get several of my hens sitting on fake eggs and then when the new chicks arrive, stick them under the hens in the middle of the night. Believe it or not, this trick works very well. The hens think their eggs have hatched and the chicks are just naturally accepted. The hens typically keep the chicks away from the other birds at first anyway.
If I don’t have any broody hens, I put up a temporary pen and allow the chicks outside for a couple of hours during the day. The older chickens can see them and hear them but can’t harm them. That way, when the chicks are old enough to join the older chickens, they are used to them being around.
Any time you add new birds to an existing flock, there will be some minor skirmishes, but they usually manage to work it out. Keep in mind that the new birds will have to figure out the pecking order and some squabbles are normal.
Keeping chickens in your backyard is an adventure. Your flock is unique so you need to keep in mind that you may need to get creative and modify these suggestions to keep your flock happy.