integrating new hens with old

I am posting on behalf of my Dad, who is in his 70's and is not online!

Anyway, he used to keep chickens years ago as a kid and decided to take it up again. he got 2 hens (unsure what breed) from a friend of a friend last year. One died and the other is still laying.

Last week he got 4 young rhode island red chicks (I think they are 8 weeks old, not laying yet anyway) Now the dilemna is how to integrate the new ones with the older hen. He said the older hen 'went mad' when the young chicks were put into the run with her. So he has seperated the older one and the young ones. He put the young ones into the hen house and run, and put the older one into an isolation area in another part of the garden. I thought this was unfair to the older hen, essentially he is evicting her for the newcomers, but any advice here is very welcome.

The other question I have is what he should be giving them in terms of supplements/dewormers etc. He is feeding them some corby rock chicken crumb at the moment, but he never treated the 2 older hens for worms or any other things they might have? Should he be doing this? Since the last time he kept chckens was back in the 1940's I am sure things have moved on since then!

many thanks in advance for any advice.



  • edited November -1
    about 3 months ago was the first time that I introduced 2 young hens(2 months old)
    to my 3 18 month old hens.I kept them seperate within view of each other for about 3 weeks.Then I integrated them in the run only and there was war.I made sure the new hens had plenty of space to run for cover.It took another 3 weeks or so before they were allowed into the coop at night with alot of supervision.Even now the pecking order is
    still being established and there are still some scuffles at night but the new hens are now bigger so it is not as bad.In future I will only buy hens that are roughly the same size as the existing flock.I find good for advice when this site is quiet.
  • edited November -1
    Hi Anna,
    It's tough to introduce hens together. You need to take into account numbers in both groups and ages as well as temperment. Generally speaking you want to wait to put in the new birds until they are fairly mature, so point of lay age of about 20 weeks. But it is also best to integrate hens in pairs or larger groups rather than a single hen.
    It might be best to wait till the new birds are older and react to the older hen like mature birds instead of frightened youngsters. But then putting in the older single hen with the group later when it matures might have its own difficulties.
    Generally it works best if you have the two groups living alongside but separate for some time first, either in adjacent pens or with one group penned separately within a larger run.
    When you introduce them do it at the hens' bedtime, put the hens together in the coop right onto the roosting perch. They'll get used to each other a bit overnight. When they're let out in the morning still be prepared for arguing but have both sets of feed/drinking stations available and also ensure there are hiding places for any hen getting picked on, straw bales or pallets leaning against a wall would be fine.
    As for supplements, many people give livestock grade apple cider vinegar (not the type bought in the supermarket) in the water one week each month, or crushed cloves of garlic, these are meant to help keep the hens healthy and help against worms. But they should be treated a couple of times each year anyway for worms, verm-x and flubenvet are 2 regularly used and approved for poultry. Mite powder, lice powder, diatoms, and red mite spray for the coop are also products to investigate. There's also poultry tonic for the water and poultry spice for the food which might help at times of stress.
    At eight weeks the young birds are ready to move onto a grower pellet, but wait to put them on layers ration till they are ready to lay.
    Best of luck with them!
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