Adding/Reintroducing Hen - Larger Hen Attacking

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Reebs21, Mar 14, 2016.

  1. Reebs21

    Reebs21 Hatching

    Mar 14, 2016
    Hi all! This is my first post and I'm also new to having hens all together.

    I purchased 3 hens on Wednesday - one fully grown and 2 about 4-5months old from a local woman who raised them in her yard. They have been doing really well and today I decided to add one more to the flock as I feel my coop has the space. So I went back to the same woman and got a hen that mine are familiar with and were in a flock with. When I brought her in, my largest hen immediately started biting her in the neck. Needless to say I separated them for the time being. I am wondering if it is normal for her to do this to establish dominance? The hen I got today is younger and is not fighting back at all - she just screams. Should I let them hash it out a little so they can figure out the pecking order? Or will the larger hen seriously injure the smaller one? They have been apart for less than one week. Any advice would be very helpful. Do I need to separate her more long term even though they should be familiar with each other? Thanks!
  2. Reebs21

    Reebs21 Hatching

    Mar 14, 2016
    Update: I now have the new hen set up with everything she needs in a dog crate up against the edge of the run on the chicken coop the other girls are in. I am nervous about trying to put her back in with the larger hen but I don't want her to have to live in the dog crate too long. How do I know when I can put her in? Would it be better to put the 3 smaller girls together in the coop (including the new one) and put the bully in the crate? Then when I return her to the coop she may not feel as territorial?
  3. SilkieChickenLover336

    SilkieChickenLover336 Songster

    Feb 16, 2011
    New Jersey
    At night when they go to bed just put her on the roost with them and when they wake up it should be fine. This is what I do when I introduce a new hen
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Yes, this might work.

    Problem is that those hens really didn't 'know each other'.....
    .....once birds are separated for as little as one day all alliances may be broken.

    You'll have to do a bit of chicken juggling.
    Taking putting the bully in the crate for a couple days and putting the newbie with the others might work out...might not.
    Is the crate big enough for 2 birds?
    Just keep the crate next to the other pen and mix up who is where off and on...maybe once an hour maybe once a'll have to play it by eye and ear.
    Lots of space, places to hide and get up and away, and multiple feed/water stations can help.
    You could always take the one back to the farm.

    ETA: the adding to roost at night might work, but better be there in the morning to supervise. Theory is they won't recognize another bird, sometimes works, mostly not, especially in a small flock.
    Like bobbie-j sez: "chickens aren't the brightest animals on this planet, but they're not that stupid."

    Telling us how much space in coop and run(feet by feet and/or pics) you have might help.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2016
  5. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Long ago, when I started my flock with two adopted hens, one of them died suddenly the first week I had her, so I asked if I could have another hen from that same flock to replace her.

    Even though the hen I had and the replacement hen had been living a week prior together in the same flock, when I put the replacement in with the "home" hen, the "home" hen gave her a few solid pecks to the head when they re-met.

    Chicken society is constantly changing and any stress factor, any change, will alter the pecking order and change relationships from what they were at a previous time and place. Chickens moving to a new place, a flock member dying, new chickens being added, all are guaranteed to alter the existing social order.

    I wrote about a recent addition of a rescued hen to my flock. It wasn't easy on this hen, but she adapted. The crucial thing in the integration process was for her to have the opportunity to learn who she could trust in the flock and who she had to watch out for, and who she had to learn to run away from as fast as possible.

    But I needed to balance that with keeping her safe and giving her enough time-outs from the integration process to safeguard her self-confidence.

    It's the third article linked below this post.

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