Old chickens mixed with young

Question

Old chickens mixed with young: I have 2 full grown 3 year old laying hens. My wife and daughter don't want to get rid of them.

I am getting 12 new chicks.
Question : After the chicks are taken from the incubator and are fully feathered , ..........will the 2 older hens attack them ?

Answer
I never like to mix the old and the very young. It can be an accident waiting to happen. Sometimes an older hen will adopt young ones and be kind, but there are no guarantees.

I make it a rule not to introduce young birds to older ones until the younger are nearly full grown.

You haven’t said what kind of set up you have, but the more area you have, the better the introduction might go. Chickens are territorial and can see new comers as intruders and try to run them off.

If in a confined area, the new comers may be assaulted mercilessly. Additional feeding stations may help and cut down on protection of the food source. Throwing lots of scratch and treats can distract.

If you have room, you might consider introducing the new group in a large cage or protected pen within the existing set up.

This would allow the older hens to get used to the presence of the new ones while not being able to bully them.

The social structure of a chicken flock (even 2) requires a certain amount of posturing for dominance and good pecking order.

Some chickens get carried away with the pecking. In a natural setting chicks would be introduced to the flock by their mother, be protected by her, and given her status in the group.

One thing you might try is removing the 2 mature hens for at least a week and allowing the new group to “own” your chicken area.

Then introduce the older birds one at a time and see how it goes. With the new group feeling confident in their area, this may persuade better acceptance.

I would introduce the least dominant mature hen first and let her bond with the group (hopefully). When returning the more dominant hen, she may just assume that these young birds belong to the other and leave them be.

How ever you do it, I highly recommend face to face introductions be done when you have hours to keep an eye on them. Hope this helps!

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Old mixed with young
by: Sharon

Hopefully the dog cage has enough room for the two hens to be happy for a while. A happy amount of space per chicken is about 14 sq. ft. per bird, of indoor and outdoor area.

I don't think you have to wait till the young birds are full sized, especially if the two adult hens are in a small confined area.

One reason for waiting would be full sized roosters jumping on little pullets, but it doesn't sound like you have a rooster.

Another reason is that smaller chickens are less intimidating to adults and easy targets for dominance gestures.

Your young chickens will be posturing and mock fighting with each other, gaining wisdom and their own place in their group, but most likely won't have the experience (or foolishness) to exert dominance on the older two.

Most layer breeds don't want to "fight" to excess, just enough posturing to stand their ground and claim their space.

Introducing one mature hen at a time will put her at a slight disadvantage of being out numbered and that's a good handicap to give her.

Hope it goes well.

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thank you for the reply
by: Anonymous

I have a big dog cage that I can put the 2 older hens in,......... still in the big coop.

I'll allow them to get used to the young birds, and release them one at a time into the flock.

By this time, the chicks will be full grown and capable of defending themselves.

Hopefully the dominant bird from the young don't attack one of the older birds.

Luckily, I have lots of room and 15 nest boxes, and a door out onto a 12ft by 8 ft outside Avery.

Thanks for the input.

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