introducing new chickens to an established flock
night introduction method
The night introduction method is when you place new chickens on the main flock's roosting perch at night.

Night introduction method theory
Photo of chickens roosting at night.
Photo of chickens roosting at night.  Chickens have almost no night vision so they cannot see what is going on when new chickens are placed on the perch next to them at night.
When new chickens are added to an established flock at night the existing chickens seem to accept the introduced chickens more readily than they would if they had been introduced during the day.  The theory behind this is that chickens can't count, so when they wake in the morning with two or three extra chickens perched next to them they are unaware that they weren't there the day before and so treat them as part of the flock.

When I first heard this theory I was pretty sceptical. While chickens aren't the brightest animals they do in fact have a fairly complex social structure,

My observations of when I have introduced new chickens to an established flock at night is that the established chickens are certainly aware that new chickens have been added to the flock as the pecking order is immediately reorganised with the new birds being lowest on the rung and usually forced to keep to themselves away from the main flock during the day.  But established chickens certainly do accept new chickens more readily when they are introduced at night than during the day.

My theory is that while established chickens certainly do see chickens introduced to the flock as new chickens the primitive hard wiring of chickens see them as part of the flock,  while chickens introduced during the day are seen as part of a nearby rival flock.  Hence the milder reaction to chickens introduced at night.

Whatever the reason it certainly works.  I have introduced new chickens to my established flock a number of times using this method and the established chickens do seem accept the new ones more readily.  These days it is my preferred method for introducing new chickens.

night introduction method
  1. If you pick up  your new chickens during the day place them in a holding pen  that is out of sight of your established chickens.
  2. When the sun goes down place the new chickens on the roosting perch alongside the roosting established chickens. 

    This has to be done without the use of a torch.  Chickens have almost no night vision so they will not see what you are doing at night even if there is a bit of moonlight, however they may if you use a torch.

advantages/disadvantages summary

  • No need to have a separate run to temporarily house the new chickens.
  • Less work than using the Staged Introduction Method.

  • Not suitable for very young chickens that aren't big enough to fly to a perch.