Adding chickens - am I overly nervous about my original girls or is this ok?

lovetorenovate

Hatching
5 Years
Apr 16, 2014
6
1
9
We had two golden comets (about 7 mo old) for about a month - decided to expand a bit, so we recently took on two new older hens from a neighbor (one RIR and another that he says is a black sex link), along with moving over his much larger coop - his wife was done with chicken keeping and wanted it all gone asap.

Everyone seemed to get along fine the first day or so... although the older birds would not even let the comets into the coop at night, they slept on the roost in the run. On the third day, the black sex link was full on attacking both of the golden comets. Both comets are now missing feathers on the back of their necks, and they seem to have some damage to their combs - it did look like she had drawn some blood. I love my sweet golden comet girls and am upset they are getting so brutally attacked. I separated them yesterday - and am torn about whether:

1. that's a good idea given injuries or whether I'm just postponing or worsening the inevitable, AND
2. whether I'm really prepared to take on four chickens when these two new ones I'm not very fond of. Will this sort itself out? I find it very stressful.

These chickens will eventually all get along right? My comets were being very docile - the black chicken just seems highly aggressive and ruthless. It seems like the pecking order is established - but there's just a bully.

So, what to do next? Keep them separated until the comets heal? Put the black one in solitary (dog kennel separated)? Should I get rid of the black one? I think the RIR will be quite bossy but she's not the bully that the black one is.

They all have plenty of water, food and space. The coop we got from our neighbor is 6 ft x 12 ft. We let them free range in the fenced back yard during the day (at which point they really keep their distance - but as soon as they are near each other the black chicken attacks the golden comets).
 

Ol Grey Mare

One egg shy of a full carton. .....
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Hi - I'm sorry you did not post before the introductions as it would have been easier for you and your birds had you had some good information in flock integration before moving day. The good news is that it isn't too late to go back and start the integration process from square one now.
It is best to integrate a flock slowly vs. just putting the birds all together from the start. Using a barrier to allow visual contact but not physical contact is a great starting point - so a run within the run or a temporary containment system next to an existing run (same in the coop). The idea is to allow the birds to get accustomed to each others' presence before they are able to get at each other. If you think about it, your existing birds are feeling their territory is being invaded and the incoming birds are feeling threatened and in need of asserting themselves in a strange situation - recipe for the outcome you had.
You will most definitely want to allow the injured bird to heal - injuries invite pecking, which even without the issue of flock integration can be problematic.
If you still have both coops, I would divide the run and use a coop at both ends/sides to house one set of chickens so they have safe housing and can get acquainted through the shared run space (separated by fencing) or even construct a temp run next to the existing one. Use the healing time as their "see but don't touch" time - then it's time for another trial at the sharing of the run.
 

lovetorenovate

Hatching
5 Years
Apr 16, 2014
6
1
9
what's a recommended timeline for separate coops? the day we moved them they were separated all day - where they could see but not get at each other. We had planned to have them sleep apart for at least a few days - but our two golden comets ran into the new coop and everyone seemed happy. I certainly did some research in advance - but didn't see any specific timeline. I had also hoped that since my chickens were clearly subordinate in size/age/etc/personality - moving into the bigger coop of the other chickens - that the pecking order process would not be drawn out. I feel like the black chicken is extremely aggressive... that's really my concern. How do you know if a chicken is just too aggressive to get along with others? And is it worth my time to try to pick her up (she can't be picked up like the others - even my neighbor said he'd never been able to pick her up)? Is isolating her a bad idea?
 

donrae

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Jun 18, 2010
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The timeline's going to vary, but I'd do a minimum of a few days, up to 2 weeks, basically until they totally ignore each other.

I would try putting the comets and the red together and see how things go, keep the bsl separarate. Breaking her bond with the red may take her down a notch or two. I'd do that for a good week, at least. Then try putting the black in, as above in an enclosure within the coop for a few days, then let her out. It may take a good month for everyone to get along, and they may never be the best of friends.

If you give it everything you're willing to, and you still aren't happy or just flat don't like that one hen, feel free to sell her! I've had animals I just didn't like or get along with, and there's no reason to keep them and make both of you miserable. Teenagers you don't get along with, on the other hand, you can't sell
 

Ol Grey Mare

One egg shy of a full carton. .....
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Mar 9, 2014
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The timeline's going to vary, but I'd do a minimum of a few days, up to 2 weeks, basically until they totally ignore each other.

I would try putting the comets and the red together and see how things go, keep the bsl separarate. Breaking her bond with the red may take her down a notch or two. I'd do that for a good week, at least. Then try putting the black in, as above in an enclosure within the coop for a few days, then let her out. It may take a good month for everyone to get along, and they may never be the best of friends.

If you give it everything you're willing to, and you still aren't happy or just flat don't like that one hen, feel free to sell her! I've had animals I just didn't like or get along with, and there's no reason to keep them and make both of you miserable. Teenagers you don't get along with, on the other hand, you can't sell
Agreed - and LOL
 

lovetorenovate

Hatching
5 Years
Apr 16, 2014
6
1
9
I've keep them apart now (the BSL in my smaller coop) since my last post. We had them all out in the yard yesterday and everyone was fine - but she followed the comets into the larger coop and attacked again. I think we'll find a new home for her. Although maybe I'll give it another week. the RIR is fine with the two golden comets.
 
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