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Adding older hens...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by kesrchicky16, Dec 13, 2016.

  1. kesrchicky16

    kesrchicky16 Just Hatched

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    So we by default got 5 new hens that are probably over a year old. Our flock is very young, 24-34 weeks. We have them separated by a chain link panel but need to merge the to flocks so that we can feed the original birds easier and give the new ones access to the heated waterer. This gives us 14 total chickens and the coop is 48 sq ft with a 72 sq ft chain link run when we take the panel out. How long should we keep them separate? They did try to fight through the fence the first day.
     
  2. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Howdy kesrchicky16 [​IMG] Welcome to BYC

    Using the ‘look not touch’ method, I keep them separated for at least a week.

    Do you free range at all? I let the existing flock out for a free range while the newbies are locked in the coop and run [taking out the divider]. This gives the newbies the opportunity to explore and feel comfortable in what will be their new home without the threat of being picked on and also learn where all the good hiding spots are. Then I put the divider back up when the ranging flock are ready for bed.

    Same with free range, but reversed; I let the newbies wander around the garden while the existing flock are locked in. Granted, the existing flock have a good whinge about this ;) but again, it gives the newbies chance to explore, get settled and find all the good hiding spots without being picked on.

    I find that free ranging is a good opportunity to let everyone get to know each other .. space is a great tool when integrating.

    There will probably still be bickering while the pecking order reestablishes itself when they are integrated, but it should not be quite as brutal.

    Also, when they are integrated into the run and coop, for a couple of months I ensure that there is more than one source of water and food, just in case the newbies are being bullied away from either.
     
  3. kesrchicky16

    kesrchicky16 Just Hatched

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    Dec 13, 2016
    I'm not afraid for the newbies. They are huge compared to our originals. I was afraid of them killing the ones we actually paid for. We don't trust them to free range as our yard is open and we live on a busy highway. That and we are new to this and just recently have seen them "putting themselves to bed". I think I'll wait the week and then the first day my husband is home we'll let them mingle. He can help reseparate if we need to.
     
  4. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Hey kerrchicky16 sounds like a plan! I keep a water pistol handy during integration. Sometimes just a squirt of water in front of them is enough to change a chicken’s mind [​IMG]
     
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Do make sure that you have a couple of hide outs. Just a piece of plywood leaned up against a wall. Or a mini wall in the middle of the run so that you can set a feed bowl behind it, where it cannot be seen from the other feed bowl.

    One of the things about pecking order, is in order for both chickens to agree to the order, the lower chicken needs to be able to get out of sight of the top chicken. If the bird cannot do that, often times the more aggressive bird thinks that this is still being argued and will continue to attack.

    I have seen the lower bird, make a circle behind the hide out and within seconds be standing next to the upper bird and eating right beside her. Once she has moved away, out of sight, curtseyed to the Queen so to speak, all is well.

    Another idea is while the week is going by, put a feed bowl on each side of the fence right next to each other, so they have to approach each other to eat, but are protected by the fence.

    Then to the best of your ability, let them work it out. It will look a bit rough, but really that is the fastest way to get it over.

    Mrs K
     
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