Adding new hens

christine520

In the Brooder
Apr 7, 2015
5
3
45
I have 6 new hens to add to my existing flock of 7hens. I put the new ones out next to the others for a week but they couldn't get to each other. When I added them, the original birds immediately started going after the new birds. Hearing that was normal, I watched for a while and let them go, checking on them often. In 2 days, 3 new ones are dead and another had to be separated to heal. I took out the remaining 5 and put them back in the separate cage. I don't know what to do. The new ones are to crowded. The original hens are also picking on each other. I have treated them with "No Peck" which seemed to be working for a while but not now. I have added vitamin supplements and scratch corn and vegetables to their diet. I am frantic. My original girls are very friendly to me. I can pet most of them and pick them up also. What do I do?
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
13 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,609
24,644
927
Southeast Louisiana
I’m sorry but your numbers don’t add up. You had 6 new ones, three are dead, one was removed to heal, and you have 5 left?

There are different reasons for this type of behavior but the usual cause is overcrowding. How many chickens do you have and how much room.

How old are the new chickens? Some of us have no major problems integrating fairly young chicks with the flock but sometimes that ends in disaster, like your attempt. Sufficient room again is often a big part of the problem. Sometimes though you just have a hen that is a true brute to others, especially new chicks. It’s often a hen lower in the pecking order, trying to not be knocked down any further though it can be the dominant hen too. With living animals it can vary.

When you add new chickens you can shake up the pecking order. I suspect the original ones are picking on each other because the pecking order has been shaken up and they need to sort that out again. You may wind up with a different hen as dominant hen.

Sometimes pecking and feather picking can be caused by poor nutrition, usually reduced protein. Crack and vegetables are usually pretty low in protein, depending on what is in the crack and which veggies you are feeding them. I really don’t think this is the problem but you might try feeding them less treats and rely more on the main chicken feed or better yet, feed them a high protein treat like tuna.

Bright lights can cause this kind of problem. In a run there is not much you can do if the sun is shining but if they spend much time in the coop you might think about that. This problem happens more in the brooder though than coop and run.

Sometimes there is one instigator that starts the attack, then mob mentality causes the others to join in the attack. If you can determine that one specific chicken is starting it, you can sometimes stop that behavior by removing that chicken. If you can isolate her for several days she loses her place in the pecking order and has to regain it when she is reintroduced. She may never regain her former status but will be too busy just working on the pecking order to attack the younger ones.

I could easily be wrong but it sounds like you are trying to integrate immature chickens with mature chickens in too small a space to start the problem, then the pecking order with the original ones was upset.
 

christine520

In the Brooder
Apr 7, 2015
5
3
45
Sorry about the numbers. I started with 9. 3 are dead now. The older chickens are 1 yr. they were pecking each long before the new ones where introduced. They have plenty of room. I have then on Nutrena 16% pellet. They are healthy and lay beautiful eggs. The new ones, 3 months old,are crowded because the older ones are pecking them and I had to remove them. They are all the same size.
 

drumstick diva

Still crazy after all these years.
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Aug 26, 2009
140,901
293,662
2,097
Out to pasture
I'm still not sure what is going on but, after the first dead one I would have isolated anyone that might have been involved , bloody beaks or feathers. Also the pecking issues need to be stopped with the older one first. Put pinless peepers on them. If that doesn't work consider dumping them and starting over with the young ones, that haven't learned to be like that. It sounds like the pecking has been going on for far too long.-.
 

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