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    Integrating New Chickens Into Your Flock

    Try to let the birds squabble amongst themselves.

    If you own chickens, you will occasionally want to add some new birds to your flock.

    New chickens should be quarantined away from your existing flock for at least 30 days to guard against parasites and disease. New birds can carry disease into a flock even if they exhibit no outward signs of illness.

    The new chickens should have a pen and housing completely separate from the existing flock. During the quarantine period, always tend to your existing flock first and then finish up chores with the isolated birds so that potential disease won’t be spread by contaminated equipment, boots, and clothing.

    Once you’ve determined the new birds are disease free, you can work to integrate the two flocks.

    This can take some time and patience, as each flock will have its own order of dominance - sometimes called a pecking order. Introducing new birds will cause a big shift in the social order.

    One successful technique is called “look, but don’t touch,” which uses a separate pen or a large crate placed within the existing run or coop. This technique allows birds to become familiar with one another without being able to physically harm one another. Even if they try to attack one another through the wire, they won’t be able to do any real damage.

    After a couple of weeks, you can allow the birds to intermingle; just be sure there are places such as tall weeds or other out-of-sight areas where picked-on birds can run and hide, if needed.

    During this time, be sure to set out extra food and water stations in different areas, because some dominant birds have a tendency to guard food and water from less aggressive birds. No matter what, expect some pecking and reordering to occur; however, unless there is an extreme case of bullying where blood is drawn, try to let the birds squabble amongst themselves until they can establish an order of their own.