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Transitioning New Birds to an Existing Flock

Bringing home new birds!

Bantam Silkie Ducks

The anticipated day has come, you have been waiting and planning for your new feathered friends to join your existing birds. Oh no how do I integrate them? Where do I put them? Do I put them somewhere else or put right in? In many cases this is individually based on type of birds, ages and situation. Let’s jump into some ideas on what to do.

My Flock Make-Up

We need to think of our existing birds. What age are they? Are they typically friendly, or kind of bullies and may not take newcomers well? Anytime you bring in new birds to an existing environment it changes the dynamic of the flock. Re-establishing dominance and flock hierarchy can occur, depending on age of the new birds in relation to the existing. Also, if you have existing males and bringing home another male to add to the group, careful planning is needed.

Friendlier bids will typically take in newcomers a little better than birds that can be bullies or in charge of the flock. This situation is fluid depending on types of fowl you have, for this article we will focus on chickens and their flock makeup.

Chickens in Leaves

The Introduction

 

You have your new birds, and it is time to do the introductions. You have acclimated them to your home first to get used to their new place. When introducing new birds, we recommend you have them in the same coop or area where the existing birds can see them but not touch them. Like a see-through fence of some sort or metal dog crate. This way they both can get to know each other, and the new birds can feel safe and comfortable. This is an important step for both of them. How long for the separation, is determined by the flock, it can be a week or two or a few days. All depends on the reactions of the existing birds.

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After Introductions

You are done with the separation, now it is time for them to be together. We like to offer the following tips:

  • Have 2 feeders available, this way the new birds can access feed. The existing birds may possibly not let the new birds to the feeder. This is normal behavior.
  • Let your existing birds know they are still important, offer them a treat occasionally. This will help the process go smooth.
  • One waterer is fine. have a stress solution vitamin mix in the water to help ease everyone. You can use the oregano oil to help protect their immunity.
  • Have some “hiding” spots they can go to if they want to get away.
  • they might not join the existing birds on the roost or in their area, have a spot they can go to or if dark and putting them away keep putting them in the coop.
  • Have a plan – put them together during the day and in their own place at night, so introduce in smaller steps.

Some normal behaviors of the existing birds might be picking at them, not letting them by the feeder or roosts (if have roosts), shooing them away. Daily checking is important and even many checks throughout the day just to make sure everything is going ok.

If any of these things are not going well, just separate them again and re-try. This may take a long time, or it might not. We have to do this here very often at our farm and almost 98% of the time it works out. Occasionally it doesn’t but this is very rare.

Tips for all birds we carry:

Geese – this is tricky, we apply all the same techniques as above. Offer the new geese their own area with a water source just for them. The existing geese most likely will not let them in their bathing source. They tend to take a little longer especially if there are more males.

Ducks – when introducing ducklings to existing ducks who are not their mothers, this will most likely take time. Most of the time they don’t accept them into the group and will pick at them for a while. As long as the new duck is not getting hurt this is normal and eventually, they will take in the duckling. If this is bothersome and you are worried do short bursts and take the new duck in the evenings.

Gamebirds

Turkeys we don’t recommend introducing till they are old enough to get away and can find a place, unless you have a broody turkey momma that will accept them.

Quail – may be bullies if introducing another male, watch for aggressive behaviors.

Guinea – the new guinea will most likely have their own “click” and stick together or bond with whatever birds you put them with. If have a broody mom can put Keets with her otherwise they need to be in their own place for a long time until they are older teens and know their surroundings. they may get bullied and run or fly away. If more assistance is needed, we can help with this.

fowl guru
nicollesingature

Nicolle, aka The Fowl Guru, has been raising animals for over 20 years, and a self-trained fowl expert. She is one of the founders and owners of Sugar Feather Farm LLC, mother of 5 children and consultant for Civil Engineering firms. Nicolle is a Certified Vermont Master Composter and volunteer for several charity organizations. Nicolle offers consultations and mentorships to fowl enthusiasts who have concerns or questions.

Sugar Feather Farms LLC are producers of this article, and all pictures and information are copyrighted information and not to be used without permission from Sugar Feather Farm.

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