Adding two hens to my flock of 8

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Nanili, Nov 16, 2019.

  1. Nanili

    Nanili Chirping

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    Today we were gifted two beautiful year-old Brahmas and want to know the best way to add them to our flock of 8 hens (who are about two years old).Today, we let them all free range together a little after locking the two up in the coop alone so they could get the lay of the land. They did pretty well but there were a couple of fights which I stepped between. The Brahmas seem pretty scared, like they never knew other chickens existed in the world. We were planning to sneak them into the coop tonight after dark and hope for the best, but I am wondering if it is too soon. Tips?
     
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  2. penny1960

    penny1960 Yippy Do Da, Yipptye Ay!

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    How big is you coop Please and best case they should be separate 30 days so not to spread disease
     
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  3. Nanili

    Nanili Chirping

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    30 days? They've all been vaccinated. Why 30 days?
     
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  4. Nanili

    Nanili Chirping

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    our coop is approximately 70 square feet
     
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  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    It's possible when you meet someone and shake their hand you could get the flu or some other disease if they have the flu or some other disease. There are a lot of parasites an diseases that are not vaccinated for. When two new chickens meet it's possible they could give each other a disease or parasites if they have a disease or parasites. Some people quarantine new chickens for a month before they mix them with their flock to check for these diseases or parasites. Not everyone quarantines and many that think they are really don't do it right. You can write a lot about quarantine, but since yours have already mingled it's too late for it to do you any good if there was even a need to start with. It's water under the bridge so don't worry about it.

    Thanks for giving the age of the two groups, that helps a lot. Since you are dealing with living animals no one can give you guarantees as to how they will behave, but you should be better off than many people.

    Since they are all mature, they have to work out their place in the pecking order. That often involves pecking or some form of fighting. Sometimes that gets violent and sometimes you may not notice it happening. How much room you have inside and outside is important. With them free ranging you appear to have a lot of room outside which is good. That large coop helps too.

    I don't know where you are located so I don't know your time zone. You've probably already managed your first night. If you did lock them in the coop together and there is still time my suggestion is to be out there at daybreak to see how it is going. They my be fine, you may need to let them out early. Or maybe not.

    There are different ways you can try to integrate adults. Some people would just put them together and see what happens. Sometimes that works, especially if you have a lot of room. Most people on this forum don't have that kind of room.

    If it is too violent for that to work, housing them separately but where they can see each other through a fence for a while can get them used to each other. Letting them range together during the day but sleep apart for a while can ease the transition. Having different and spread out feeding and watering stations can reduce points of conflict. For people that keep them in runs adding clutter to provide places for the new ones to hide under, behind, or over can improve the quality of that space. If you leave them locked in the coop when they are awake clutter in the coop can help too if they are violent.

    At some point they will have to work their way into the pecking order. As long as no blood is drawn or one is not trapped on the ground with another standing over it pecking at its head I pretty much let them work it out. It is a judgment call as to how much is too much and you need to intervene.

    I wish you luck.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Here's some tips, that might help, about....
    Integration Basics:
    It's all about territory and resources(space/food/water).
    Existing birds will almost always attack new ones to defend their resources.
    Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best if mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

    The more space, the better.
    Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no copious blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down and beaten unmercilessly, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide 'out of line of sight'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds. Roosts, pallets or boards leaned up against walls or up on concrete blocks, old chairs tables, branches, logs, stumps out in the run can really help. Lots of diversion and places to 'hide' instead of bare wide open run.
     
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  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Free Ranging

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    That is how I would do it, however, sometimes the original groups will split, with one or two of the birds just violently objecting to this introduction. You might pull them for a day or two.

    I do have a lot of clutter in my run, and I recently got a single pullet added, so it can be done, but you might do the lock the original group outside, leave the girls inside, and feed both groups along the fence for a couple of days.

    Fighting is not bad, IF THE LOWER OR NEW BIRD CAN get away, and out of sight. So many runs are just an open rectangle where a bird can see any other bird from any position in the run. If yours is that way, add a lot of junk. Old chairs, pallets, ladders, roosts, platforms of pallets and cement blocks, saw horses, old plastic tote place on its side. These allow birds to get out of sight, out of the space. While it will look more cluttered, it will be much more interesting to your chickens and more efficiently use the vertical space.

    Mrs K
     
  8. penny1960

    penny1960 Yippy Do Da, Yipptye Ay!

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    May I ask what state your in that birds are vaccinated
     
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  9. Nanili

    Nanili Chirping

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    Thank you! This is helpful. We decided to have them sleep apart and during the day, I give them time in the coop by themselves while the others are free ranging. The first night, they just seemed stressed and scared and were attacking I think because they were intimidated by 8 other chickens (even though they are the bigger ones). They did hang out in the run together supervised, but there is so much space, that they didn't really have to interact at all. I hadn't thought of the clutter idea. I will try that and add extra feed and water stations. I think we will have them sleep separately again tonight and just keep introducing them when we can supervise for a while.
     
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  10. Nanili

    Nanili Chirping

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    CA, though I'm sure they were shipped from somewhere else.
     
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