Ok, so I need some wisdom/advice here. I got 2 pullets a couple of weeks ago (barred rock and buff orpington). They immediately bonded and "took over" their coop, the yard AND some of my vege beds, with the barred being the leader. I decided to go ahead and get 2 more (same source) this past Sat. I got another buff and americauna. I expected they wouldn't just immediately run up kissing all over each other or anything, but I did NOT expect the leader aka bully to terrorize the newbies. Both of the newbies are outcasts, especially the americauna.............Thelma chases both of them no matter where they are and has been pecking the americauna..........big time at night in the coop. No blood or anything, but feathers are missing. Poor little girl seems absolutely petrified and on guard 24x7. My first 2 have pretty much confined the newbies to inside the coop during the day. They both just sit in there (i've put water and food in it too for them). I've watched Thelma go into the coop and stir them up - sometimes they have come running out but end up right back inside to be left alone. It does not seem as though it's getting "better" if that makes sense...this is day 3 and I definately seem to have 2 separate flocks. Problem is, I'm in the city and don't have room for a 2nd coop/run. I might try putting the newbies into one of my dog's crates inside the coop to keep from being pecked and bothered at night........can't do that perm tho. At what point should they be getting along, or if ??? amount of time passes with no improvement is it time to think they will not integrate?? I am also going to ask the guy I got them from.......
I just feel so bad for them and feel like I made the wrong decision to add 2 to the good harmony that was already going. I really had no idea they would act quite like this.....they so remind me of dogs! The americauna is so beautiful, docile, meek and seems to be sweet as all get out.......my husband holds her and strokes her head and she just shuts her eyes like she's finally at peace.
Removing the bully stops the issue as she is "Top Dog" at the moment. But if you remove her by isolating her from "her flock", her flock members will forget her as being a member. Leave her gone for several days as that is what it takes to change the pecking order issue. Then once you see the others have established themselves in a peaceful manner, introduce Thelma back. May even take the portable kennel you may be keeping her in for isolation and place it into the coop before releasing her to socialize. See if that changes how the others accept her. She needs to come in "bottom dog" into a New Flock. If she continues the attacks, you may want to send her to another flock all together. Someone with LOTS more chickens so she can't use her size to bully.
I generally don't introduce new birds into the flock during the day. I wait until after dark and release them into the coop at night. By doing so, I've had less issues with hostility.
I am of the opinion also that sometimes, just like with Roos, some hens are meaner than others regardless of ranking. If you had a really mean roo, would you keep him? Same should go for aggressive hens in my view. I want peaceful flocks, with minor pecking order behaviors that are normal. NOT serious attacks that cause the submissive birds to live in terror & thus live with continual stress... which can kill birds.
Home to 1 Peek-a-poo dog, 1 Cockatiel, 2 zebra finch, 7 ducks, 2 pigeons, & a tub of red worms; as well as one ole Norwegian-German originally from Minnesota's Mississippi valley.