chickens
introducing new chickens to an established flock
Staged introduction method
The staged introduction method is when new chickens are gradually introduced by stages to an established flock . To do this you do the following.


Photo of a deep litter chicken pen and a chicken run with the connecting door closed.
Photo of my deep litter pen (rear) showing how it can be set up as a separate holding pen. There is a covered section on the left (not visible in the photo)  where I set up a temporary roosting bench for the chickens that I am introducing to my flock.


Photo of a deep litter chicken pen and a chicken run with the connecting door open.
When the gate is opened the two groups of chickens can intermingle.
Pen the new chickens in a separate run next to the existing flock's pen so both parties of chickens can see each other but cannot intermingle.  The separate pen should have a roosting bench for the new chickens to roost in at night as well as protection from the elements.  There needs to be a gate between the two pens to allow both groups of chickens to intermingle when it is opened.  Keep them there for at least two days.  This is to allow the new chickens to form a habit of roosting in their pen and for both groups of chickens to get used to seeing the other chickens around.

After a couple of days  open the connecting gate between the two pens at the end of the day.  This will allow both groups of chickens to briefly intermingle before they  retire to the roosts in their respective pens.  Fights will occur between the two groups  but as it is at the end of the day there is usually not enough time for the chickens to inflict serious damage on each other.  When the sun goes down the two groups of chickens will retire to their roosts in their respective pens and you can close the access gate so when the sun comes up the next day the groups will again be separated.

Repeat this process each day, gradually lengthening the time that both groups of chickens can intermingle.  Eventually the fighting between the two groups of chickens will reduce as the new pecking order is established and the chickens no longer see themselves as two separate groups but a single flock. 

Once the new chickens have been fully accepted you have to train them roost with the main flock.  You do this by closing the gate behind the new chickens after they have been released into the main run.  At the end of the day, seeing that they cannot return to their old roost, they will seek an alternative place to roost.  Sometimes this is where the main flock roosts but more often than not they will simply huddle in some corner of the main chicken run.  If this occurs simply pick them up and place them on the main flock's roosting perch.  You may have to repeat this for two or three nights but they will eventually get the message and begin to roost with the rest of the chickens.



advantages/Disadvantages summary

Advantages
  • Very useful if you have a group of very young chickens that have outgrown a brooder but are not big enough to run with adult chickens.
Disadvantages
  • You need a separate pen in order to be able to use this introduction method.
     
  • A lot no more time consuming than using the Night Introduction Method