Hello all! I have three 4 month-old chickens and one has turned out to be a rooster. what is the best way to introduce a new hen to the remaining two? Can I introduce a month old in with reasonably good results? Thanks!
Sure, you can introduce a one-month old to two almost grown pullets. But be aware that the new one has a size disadvantage as well as being new and strange to the other two larger ones.
The best way to bring on board a newer, smaller one is to leave it in a safe pen or cage in the run for a few days while everyone becomes acquainted.
Then when it appears the two older ones have become accustomed to the little newbie, open 5 x 7 inch openings from its safe pen into the rest of the run. This way it will be able to duck back into the pen or cage if it gets overwhelmed by the pecking order. By the time it reaches the same size as the other two, everyone should be getting along well.
I am going to go the other way and say this, just so you know what may happen: Integrating a single new bird into a small flock can be very difficult. It MAY go ok, but it can also be very hard so you need to be prepared. I've done it in the past, I do not do it any more. Integrating at least two is easier, more is even better. Chickens are very territorial and they can be brutal to newcomers. When there is only one new bird they just fixate on that bird. Since your older birds are still youngish it might be easier but you should still plan to house a new bird/birds alongside them in it's own run as azygous suggested. I usually do this for a couple of weeks then start letting the new ones out to free range with the older birds. The more space the better. Also, the closer in size the new bird is the better able it will be to defend itself. I would NOT put a month old in with older birds. I don't put youngsters in with the flock until they are nearly full size, about 10 to 12 weeks old. Just take it slow and supervise carefully until things settle down.
My first time I waited till my new ones were similar size to old but after reading of the success of people doing it younger the last two times I did while still chicks. The first time at 7 weeks with their broody mum (they really went mum on her return, ignored the chick totally), recently at about 5 weeks from an incubator. It actually went easier than adding older birds. The others seemed to ignore them as part of the pecking order hierarchy battle because they were still chicks and so basically ignored them. By the time they do rate in their eyes as part of the pecking order they have been running with them so long they just all see them as already part of the flock but happily in their place at the bottom. The worst they ever got was a little chase away from treats when they got too cheeky.
BUT.....the ones you are introducing yours to are fairly young so not sure if they will react as calmly as adult birds sure of their place and I have a large run for them to keep out of every bodies way not a small portable coop setup. If you only have a very small coop setup I think adding anyone is going to be tricky because new birds need to be able to get away when needed. They also need to be able to go without heat, will a four week old be ready for that where you are? I'm heading into summer here so it wasn't a problem, if you are heading into winter it very well may be.
If you do add a chick, same rules apply as for older birds, let it be in the coop to be seen but seperate for at least a week.
When you add it have somewhere else for it to sleep safely seperate from them till that night you go to lock them up and find it perched with the others.
Make sure there is food and water at both ends of the run in case they won't share.
Put some safe hide spots in there so it has somewhere to hide or escape if they do chase it. I sat things in there at chick height for it to run under but that the big birds couldn't fit below.
I also agree with above, if you can add two I'd do that because being the odd one out is a lonely place.
Oh and I'd get rid of the rooster first. And the others won't get stressed, I don't think mine even noticed ours was gone when neighbours complained and we had to Rehome him...
It appears I may be undertaking just such a merger myself if an adoption of a rescue hen comes through. Someone alerted me that there's a hen who was the only survivor of an abandoned flock in need of adoption in a city half a day's drive away.
I insisted on a clean bill of health, no worms or lice or mites, and then I'd be willing to adopt. I will bring her home, keep her segregated in a safe pen in the run for a week or so, then slip her onto a perch at night so she can wake up with the flock one morning. Depending on how it goes from there, I may need to keep her separated longer. It will depend on her temperament as well as whether any of the other nineteen hens might decide to give her a bad time.
She's a buff Orpington so she will have a mild temperament. If she's got self confidence issues, it could set her up to be bullied. These are things you need to expect when you bring home a new hen and want to insert her into the flock. Even under the best of circumstances, the flock needs time to adjust to having a new member among them.