Chicken Coop: How to Integrate Young Hens Into a Chicken Coop?

 You might want to renovate or expand your existing chicken coop. Indeed, older hens lay less often or stop laying altogether after a few years for laying hens. Ornamental hens lay less frequently, but for longer periods.

Chicken Coop: How to Integrate Young Hens Into a Chicken Coop?
Chicken Coop: How to Integrate Young Hens Into a Chicken Coop?

 It may be time to bring in some young hens to your backyard! By taking some precautions, the integration process will go smoothly. Check out our tips for integrating a new hen into your chicken coop.

Hens Behavior

 Hens have gregarious behavior and enjoy living in a community. It should be noted that within a group of hens, a hierarchy exists. Each hen has a role and a place. Therefore, a new hen that joins the group must evaluate its organization in order to find its place.

 On the other hand, the arrival of a young hen changes the established hierarchy and can, in some cases, generate some aggressiveness toward the new hen. In fact, reactions can vary depending on the characters, some will be more tolerant than others.

 Also, it is better to introduce two hens into the backyard at the same time rather than one: they will have a better chance of integrating easily. Because a single hen can more easily be attacked by the rest of the group, while two will have more opportunities to defend themselves.

 Moreover, hens that resemble each other get along better than if they have significant differences. This concerns both physical appearance and character. For example, large hens will not tolerate the arrival of a bantam (and vice versa). And rather calm hens will look suspiciously at the arrival of a hyperactive comrade!

 Each chicken naturally has unique characteristics. But the better they get along, the more in common they are! In general, avoid differences in size within a chicken coop.

Before Adopting the New Hens

 The first point to consider if you want to take one or more new hens is the size of your flock and your chicken coop. Make sure that each hen has enough space to be comfortable. This concerns both the chicken coop and the outdoor space where you will let them out.

 You will also check the available space on the perches and if the number of nesting boxes is sufficient. Perhaps this is an opportunity to change your equipment and take a larger one to better accommodate your new hens?

 In stores, many models of chicken coops are suitable for your needs. From the small model for two hens to the largest for 10 to 12 hens, including intermediate sizes, you will find the one that suits you.

How to integrate new hens into a chicken coop?

Follow a few steps to make the integration of one or more new hens easy.

What to do before putting the young hens in the chicken coop?

 First, to avoid potential diseases and contamination, make sure to deworm the new hens before placing them in the chicken coop. Due to the stress (inevitable) caused by their new environment, they may be more susceptible to getting worms.

 Therefore, keep them away from the chicken coop for about two weeks (this is a kind of quarantine), which will ensure that your young hens are healthy.

 In addition, it is not recommended to consume eggs from dewormed hens for three weeks after the start of the treatment. You can take advantage of these two weeks to get them familiar with you!

 The second step is to put the new arrivals in a separate enclosure, but close to the existing chicken coop. Thus, they will gradually get used to their respective presence.

A gradual integration

 Then, after 24 to 48 hours, integrate the young hens into the chicken coop. You can do it in the evening because the chickens will be tired and they will not be active as during the day.

 As a precaution, you can leave the newcomers in a box that you will place inside the chicken coop. This way, the group will have all night to get used to the presence and smell of the new ones!

 The next day, let the other hens out of the chicken coop, so that the newcomers can get to know their new home quietly. Then, reintroduce the hens but not all at once, one by one. This way, cohabitation will go more smoothly.

When everyone is gathered in the chicken coop, keep a wire mesh separation.

 Indeed, on the first day, you will continue to feed the young hens separately from the others. This way, they will continue to make contact gradually. If everything goes well, remove the separation so that the little hens can mix.

 Provide shelters and visual obstacles for them to hide in if necessary and not be constantly visible to the other hens.

Tip: the mixing of new and old hens should be done in a closed area. As in the case of pursuit, the new hens could panic and flee outside of the garden...

Observe the first few days of cohabitation

 Monitor the first few days to see if the chickens are getting along. If newcomers stay in their corner, this is normal behavior and there is nothing to worry about. Provide an additional feeding area and water point in case they are not yet allowed to eat with the others...

 However, if the older hens pursue or attack the young ones too frequently, or if you notice that the young hens are not eating enough, keep them in a separate shelter for a few more days. Familiarization can take more than 24 hours! When integrating young chickens, you can occasionally divert the attention of the older ones with some natural treats...

 On the other hand, if you notice too many fights, it is also possible to temporarily isolate the aggressive chickens for a few days. In general, the most aggressive chickens are the dominant ones, which are usually the oldest...

 The phase of integrating young chickens into the coop can take from 10 to 20 days. The presence of a rooster is useful because, after the first few minutes of showing off and mating, he will adopt them and generally intervene if there is a fight by standing between the protagonists!

Advice: even if you have only one chicken and want to offer her a playmate, still keep an eye on them for the first few days! The first chicken may not be ready to welcome a new companion. Then, the hierarchy between the two will gradually be established.

Keeping old chickens in the coop

 In the majority of cases, chicken owners adopt them to have eggs! However, from the age of 2, they will start to lay fewer eggs, until they stop altogether after 5 years. Most chickens have a lifespan of 5 years, ancient breeds 10 and sometimes even 12 years.

 However, you have surely become attached to your little feathered friends! And even if you get young chickens to continue having eggs, the older ones will still have a role to play.

 By letting them out of the coop into your garden, they can maintain it. They will eliminate some pests that can attack your plants, such as slugs or snails.

 By giving them access to the orchard, they will clean it of parasites buried in the soil or in fallen fruits. By scratching, they will limit moss in the lawn.

 Furthermore, chicken droppings represent good fertilizer for your soil. They contain a number of advantageous substances like phosphorus, nitrogen, or potassium. Therefore, do not throw away the litter when cleaning the chicken coop, but add it to your compost. Since chicken manure is highly concentrated, do not use it directly on your plants.

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Islam Khennoucha

Islam Khennoucha is an Australian author and chicken farmer who has dedicated his life to the study and care of these fascinating creatures. He was born and raised in Algeria, where he developed a love for nature and animals, especially chickens. After moving to Australia, Islam purchased a farm where he could fulfill his passion for raising chickens.
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