Integrating the Pullets into the Big Girls World

We’re heavily involved in pre-preparation of integration of our mixed flock of laying Cochin hens and our 9-week-old Rhode Island Red pullets.

Little girls greet big girls

The little girls greet the big girls through the fence.

With broody hens and the “mean girls” I’ve been concerned that the big girls will not take well to the young ones interloping into their home, runs and feed. Apparently it is chicken instinct to protect what is yours.

We started with the addition of a temporary fencing of chicken wire to allow the two groups to be visually next to one another with our physically touching. This allows for seeing, smelling and just plain getting used to one another before D-Day young. This getting to know you technique had been going on now for about three weeks.

Now I am letting the big girls into the pullets pen to get even more acquainted, supervised by me of course. The end result I that some of the big girls just go about their business but others want to play “peck the pullets.” I am supervising this once every day and some days twice a day. Likewise I am letting the pullets into the big girl’s area so they are comfortable with this space too.

Pullets in big girl coop

The pullets end up in the big girls coop. Opps!

What is happening is that the pullets run up to the hens to say “hi lets be friends.”Sweet Pea just gives the pullets the evil eye but Snowball gives them a hard peck on the back of the neck.

I know that not everyone integrated their two flocks this painstakingly slowly but the pullets have me as their mom and I don’t think their chicken skills are as developed as they could be. They do not yet have the skills I deem necessary for safe integration.

It seems that in the chicken’s world the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. The big girls want to be in the pullet’s pen and vice-versa.

Two more weeks to go!

Small House Homesteader and chicken keeper, Donna

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