Its been a long haul getting my two new pullets accepted by my two one-year-old hens. I got the pullets mid-August, mail order from McMurray Hatchery. I think this weekend, two months later, they are finally "getting along".
When the pullets first arrived, I kept them in a large metal dog crate next to the chicken run. Occasionally, I let all the chickens out in the yard to forage. At first the big hens chased the pullets and wouldn't come within 20 feet of them.
Over the next couple weeks they foraged closer together. After a month, they stayed together in the yard unless there was food around. If I put feed out, the big hens would protect it from the pullets, pecking at them and chasing them off.
Every week or so, I put the four hens together to spend the night in the coop. At first, the big hens would keep the pullets crowded into the back corner of the coop on a small perch. They kept them there day and night till I separated them and let them out. Gradually, they let the pullets move around the coop more but protected the food.
Frustrated by slow progress, I worried winter would come or the pullets would outgrow the dog crate before they could all live in the coop. So my husband and I enlarged the run. We added space to make the run about 3 times larger than it was before. At first, I left the old run walls up so I had two separate spaces. I alternated keeping the chickens apart and together and in one run or the other for a week. Then I cut open the old coop walls and let them all hang out together. With the extra space, there is so much room for the little girls to run. I left a small wall and some posts in the center, so there are places to hide. Its all good now. I suppose they knew my old coop was rated for 3 hens and just needed more space.
So the four chickens are getting along, BUT NO EGGS! When I added the new pullets the big hens were laying, but they gradually stopped. And the pullets haven't started laying yet. SO I have NO EGGS! I tell the girls they aren't earning their keep at this rate. I am guessing the problem is either the disruption of adding the pullets or its the fading sunlight. I put a light bulb in the coop. Its on from 6 - 8 am and 4 - 7 pm. I also fixed up the nesting boxes real nice with fancy hay. I put a fake egg (a golf ball) in one box. And now I am waiting.... waiting...