adding new hens


In the Brooder
7 Years
Oct 20, 2012
hi everyone im relativly new to the site nad chicken keeping

we got 4 hens about 8 weeks ago anyway last week 2 turned out to be cockerels so thye went to a new home,

today we added 2 new larger and older hens to our 2 existing hens and tomorrow we have 2 more arriving


even though the new hens are rather bigger and older by anout 6 weeks the 2 origional hens are attacking then, the 2 new ones are submissive but this had not stopped the existing ones having a pop so to speak, and they were both very sudate prior to the new hens arrival

our main worry is that the hurt the new hens and get a taste for "blood" they have been pecking at the new hens comb and sort of pecking at their tail feathers

the new hens had perched for the night and gone to sleep so we kinda felt we had no option but to remove the origional 2 hens from the coop, they are now in a carrier each located inside the house (only because its going to be very cold tonight) so that there wont be any problems either during the night or first thing in the morning before we are able to get to them to stop any injury.

tomorrow we have decided to let the new hens have the majority of the run with an existing hen penned in at either side so that no one gets hurt and also await the arrival of the other 2 new hens

are we doing the correct thing or are we making a mountain out of a mole hill?? or is it because the new hens are a different breed??? the origional 2 we have found out are leghorn and the new 2 are norwegian brown, the 2 coming tomorrow are a light sussex and a black rock

there is alot of conflicting advice on the internet

thanks Anna
one very common method is to introduce them slowly over 2-3 days.....let them get to know each other from behind a wire fence for a couple days. When u are ready to put them together, do it at night when the originals are sleeping. just put the new ones on the roost.
thats what i said todo about introducing them at night but noone listened

we are going to section off the run tomorrow before they are allowed out so they can see and smell each other but no one gets hurt

how long do you think that is going to take???

as long as its not a breed relation thing im ok with that
It's really hard to gauge how long the integration may take.

First, it's always best to quarantine any new birds you bring in from your original birds for a minimum of 30 days (I actually prefer to quarantine for 45-60 days). Since you've already introduced these birds, sectioning off the pen is probably you're best method of integration.

When I had to reintroduce a hen (after several weeks of treatment for a fungal infection) back into her flock, I carefully monitored the interactions and removed the "bullies" as necessary and then slowly reintroduced the bullies one by one back into the pen.

You would think that something so innocuous looking as a chicken wouldn't be so brutal, but they sure can be when any "interlopers" are introduced into their already-established pecking order.

Good luck.
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There is a lot of conflicting advice out there for a very simple reason. We are dealing with living animals, each of which has its own personality. We are dealing with different flock make-ups. And very important, we are dealing with different conditions. I'm not at all surprised when people post things not consistent with what I see with mine.

Since you don't have any roosters to deal with, there are a couple of different kinds of aggression to think about. One is that they are flock animals and get to know their own flock. This does not always happen, but sometimes chickens will protect their flock and territory from strange chickens. Sometimes you can just turn new chickens lose with a flock and there are no problems at all. Sometimes it gets pretty messy. I don't know why it is an issue sometimes and not others, probably just different personalities. There are a couple of things you can do to lessen the chance of this being a problem.

If you can house them side by side for a week or so without them being able to attack each other, they get used to the other's right to exist. They are no longer strangers but members of the flock. This does not always work, but it often helps a whole lot.

The other thing if you can manage it is to introduce them in strange territory where they don't feel territorial. Maybe turn the bullies into an area the others are used to but strange to the bullies.

The other issue is the general pecking order. Just like a herd of cattle or a pack of wolves, a chicken flock is a social unit. When every animal in that unit knows its place in society they can function together pretty peacefully. The problem is that establishing the social order can sometimes get pretty violent. It doesn’t always get violent. Sometimes one chicken pecks the other, is recognized as the superior, the inferior runs away thus acknowledging its status, and everything is peaceful. If it doesn’t run away, it is considered a challenge and it can get pretty violent and brutal. But even if it is a challenge it is usually a very short fight and quickly devolves into a lot of chasing and running away.

If the chickens are not all mature another element gets added where the more mature will dominate the immature. The way I read your post, I don’t think you have that issue. If you do, the solutions are the same.

The most important thing in my opinion for any of these is that the weaker or loser has room to run away. Occasionally you get a hen that is just a total brute. She will continue to attack no matter what. But in the vast majority of cases, if the weaker or loser can run away, it’s over for now. They will work it out. But is space is so tight they can’t run away, it is a challenge that must be dealt with brutally. So give them as much space as you possibly can.

If your space is limited, give them places to hide behind or under, or give them some extra perches to get up out of the way. Until they work the integration out, the ones being picked on are going to try to stay out of the way of the bullies. Help them do that.

It really helps to have more than one feeding and watering station. Bullies will often try to keep the others away from food and drink as part of the intimidation tactics.

The worst bullying I see is on the roosts before they shut down for the night. Give them as much extra roost space as you can. I’ve had chickens being picked on so bad on the roosts that they abandon the roosts and find someplace safer to sleep. I integrate a lot of younger chickens. I put an extra roost over the nest boxes, lower than the regular roosts, and separated from those roosts a bit to give them a safe place to go that is not in the nest boxes.

I know. A long post and I did not tell you exactly what to do. I don’t know your set-up well enough to be very specific as to what I’d do in your circumstances. What I’d do might not work anyway. But I suggest you consider putting all four of the newcomers together for a few days to see how well they integrate. Then let the other two out. As long as blood is not drawn I let them settle it between themselves. They have to eventually so they know where they rank in the flock.

I wish you luck. Sometimes these things go so smoothly you wonder what all the worry was about. Sometimes it gets deadly. Usually there is some commotion but they work it out.
thanks for your responce

i am going to take a picture of the coop and the run tomorrow and i will post it on this thread so that you can see what the set up is like and maybe give some ideas, i will take from as many angles as poss so that you can see most of it

like i said we are new to chicken keeping but we read alot of information, processed and and this is what we have ended up with
Glad I read this. I want to integrate my new babies (about 8-9 weeks old) in with the more mature pullets, 7 months old. I have been letting my chickens out of the run, they have a block to play on fenced in with hot wire (they don't like that)
well the 4 newbies are settling in ok the 2 existing are a little less than pleased 1 of them is worse than the other

they are sectioned off and still seperated at nights 4 new in the coop other 2 in carriers, give them a play date 3 of the new ones are submissive 1 is rather dominante so needless to say there has been afew scuffles. we have even put the origionals in with the new 4 one at a time to sort of face the music is that dosent sound too bad and it is really only 1 of them with the problem

1 new (dominante) has had blood drawn from her comb by an origional hen also dominante i think these 2 are going to jockey for position however the existing hen seems to be backing down

their is still comb pecking and tail feather pulling going on but we have spotted anti peck spray (i know its not usually used in these cases) on all their combs and tail feathers and its not stopped it but it is deffinatley putting the origional hen off from doing it

the 4 new arrivals are a darn site calmer and sudate than the 2 origionals dont know if that is because the origionals are leghorns????

anyway thats where we stand atm will update if anything else happenes

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