Adding New Mature Chickens: Quarantine New Birds

Aug 26, 2019
Sue Kelly August 26, 2019
Bria Swanson
Consumer Feeds Specialist

Container Gardening

Are you looking to add new birds to your flock? Adding new chickens to your already existing backyard flock as not as simple as putting them in the coop and letting them live happily ever after. It is natural for chickens to develop a pecking order and when new chickens are introduced it is common for problems to arise until the pecking order is re-established. There are a few things that you can do to help keep a more harmonious welcome.

  1. Quarantine new chickens. Adult chickens are more likely to be carrying a disease or infection than chicks so it is better for your flock to quarantine the new chickens to ensure they don’t have any infections or diseases. It is best to keep the new birds in a separate room or coop for at least a week or up to 30 days. Keep an eye out for lice or mites, a dull or shriveled comb, blocked nostrils or fluid coming from their eyes, and scaly legs. While the new birds are quarantined, it is good to suppliment their water with electrolytes and probiotics to make sure they are fully fit before they meet your existing flock. Make sure you wash your hands between visits with new flock and existing flock.
  2. Introduce birds in pairs or more. Being the new kid can be hard for a solo chicken so it is best to introduce at least two chickens at the same time. This will help prevent isolation and bullying on one solo chicken.
  3. Add new birds at night. While your chickens are settled and quietly roosting, this is the best time to introduce new members to give them time to familiarize themselves before the chaos of the day begins. Be sure to monitor at daybreak incase of any chicken drama. If you do have a case of too much drama, separate the new comers again and re-introduce the following night.
  4. Offer distractions. Adding new exciting things will help provide a distraction such as bales of hay, hanging lettuce in the run, adding a flock block or any other kind of poultry treat. They will help keep them focused on scratching and pecking at the hay or treats rather than the new additions.
  5. Continue to monitor. After the chickens have been introduced, it is important to keep a close eye on them during the following days. Watch to make sure they are all drinking and eating properly. If your egg production decreases at first, don’t worry because that is normal until everyone is comfortable again. After a week or so, the peace should be restored within your flock. If you notice a chicken who is being overly aggressive to the newcomers, place that aggressive chicken is isolation for a few days for a time out.
Posted: Aug 26, 2019