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Help my girl be accepted into the flock!

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
It's been 2 month and the 3 older girls still won't accept the new girl in. I've had her in a separate coop during the day because I work long hours an she just stays up in the roosting bar the whole time unless they are out in The yard. So I have 2 questions. #1 is there anything I can do to move this process along? It went faster when we had 2 old girls and introduced 2 new girls the last time. And #2 will it hurt her if she stays up in the roosting bar all day long? I know she'll need to come down to eat and drink. Am I being too "easy on them" by putting her in the other coop during the day?
post #2 of 10
First of all one to three is gonna be hard ... What breed(s) are they?

I'm confused ... Somedays that's quite easy! wink.png

You say that she is separated from the three in the day, in another coop ... And only stays on the roost ...

In the day, can they all see each other?

Is she on the roost with the other three all night?

Since you have two coops ... Try taking the lowest of the pecking order of the three old timers ... And placing her with the newer one ... There won't be as much of a ganging up mentality then ... Eventually add another old timer ...
Keep your eyes on the road ... And, your head out of your apps!
Keep your eyes on the road ... And, your head out of your apps!
post #3 of 10
Put her in the main coop with one of the older hens. Pick the most docile one to pair her with. Put the other two in the other coop. Then add your other ones one at a time over a couple of days and see how it goes. Integrating just one hen into an existing flock is tough. Keep free ranging them together, just don't pen them together all at once. Hopefully you can disrupt the pecking order just enough so that everyone is on a more even playing field.
post #4 of 10

Exactly! Pairing up a newcomer with a docile flock member is a very good strategy. What it does is to create a BFF pair out of a newcomer and an accepted flock member, and the two together will be accepted where the newcomer was resisted.


To accomplish this, find a dog crate that the two will fit into comfortably, but not have so much room they'll remain far apart. Keep them crated for two or three days, less than a week, so as not to alienate them from the flock, and then reintroduce them both after you see they've bonded.


To tell whether or not they've bonded, when you turn them loose, they should stick pretty close together. This works even with two chickens that can't stand one another, and it's a good way to calm down an aggressive chicken.

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tips, and sorry if my description was confusing.

I did have her with another one for a while in the second coop. They have gotten along fine. It's the other 2 who won't let up!

We have 2 coops because we upgraded shortly after getting our little coop from a friend. That what I meant about separating them during the day. Maybe I'll put the nice one back together with her for a couple of days again and keep them in there. I did that for a while. They are better when they are out to range in the yard. But when they are in close quarters, the feathers are flying!

My question about her being on the roost too long was for when I have left all 4 together in the big coop all day. She just hangs out up on the bar and they leave her alone. But it doesn't seem good for her to be up there all day and all night.

I've tried different combinations. It has to get worked out before the weather changes. I don't want to have 2 coops in the winter!
post #6 of 10
Rearrange the "furniture" in the main coop--the coop you'd prefer they all be housed in. Put her with the one she gets along with in the main coop. Stick the two meanies in the second coop. Leave them that way for at least a week. Then add one of the mean girls--preferably during free range time--and allow her to coop up in the main coop at dusk. She will be the new girl in a new space and, hopefully, won't try and assert any dominance over the two nice girls. After a few days (later rather than sooner) introduce the last mean girl in the same way--during free range, a couple of hours before dusk and let her coop up with the others.

The goal is to establish the nice girls as the resident hens with seniority in that coop and at the same time make each of the mean girls feel as if they have no flock at all and take away all their confidence in that environment.

Double the number feeding stations and roosts and keep them in place for a good couple of weeks after introducing the "new" birds. Pecking order is about access to resources. If resources aren't as scarce there is less likely to be confrontations.
post #7 of 10
BTW, how big are your coops?
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks! I like this plan. Should they be completely separated at first? Or do you think letting them range together in the yard when I am home is ok?

The coops are little because we can only have 4 chickens in our town. The "big" one is for 6 chickens. It has roosting bars up high, a separate roosting area, and the nesting boxes "upstairs" and food, water, and dust bathing area "downstairs".
post #9 of 10
I'd probably keep them separate. You don't want to give the mean girls any chance to maintain their dominant status over the nice girls.

Given your description of your coops I would prepare yourself for the possibility that you may never get a truly integrated flock where no one gets picked on. Unfortunately, those little coops that say they can house 6 hens can, in reality, barely house 3. Ideally you would have 4 square feet interior space for each bird not counting nest boxes and 8-10 square feet per bird in the run. Numbers like that will generally give each bird enough space to stay out of the way of each other. It's important to think of space as a resource as well. Sometimes you end up with a bossy bird that just doesn't like others in her space. It's likely why you don't have as much trouble when they free range. Everyone has plenty of room to give everyone else the space they need.

Can you buy or build a larger coop. That might very well solve your problem.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

I'm missing our girl Pancakes, who we lost this summer.  She was the peace keeper.  Ironically, the two mean girls in the current flock were on the other end of it this time last year.  And the nicest one now was the bully last year.  My son even wrote a book about them because he was so upset with her for being such a bully!  But now that bully is being nice with the new girl and the bullied are now the bullies.


The coop we have is the coop we will have.  I can't afford a new coop right now, and there is absolutely no time for making one.  It is definitely big enough, or at least it was for the 4 we had up until this summer.  I refuse to believe they won't let our new girl in eventually.  I'm going to just keep trying.  I agree with you about space being a resource as well.  I'm a 1st grade teacher, and I have 28 students in a small classroom.  I see a lot of the same behaviors!


Thanks for talking me through this.  I've got the mean girls in the smaller coop and the nice one with the new one in the bigger coop tonight.  I'm going to keep them that way for the next week to kind of start the process over again.

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