I have two groups of chickens that I've been slowly integrating with each other. There are three chickens in my older group (about 12 weeks old) and the other group has seven chickens (10 and 8 weeks old mixed, but fully integrated since they were much younger). I used the see but don't touch approach to get the two groups familiar with each other, and then they had some time of being able to be all together in a temporary coop/run I had for them before my actual coop was ready. My chicken Lucy in the older group is the one that's causing trouble. From the beginning she seems to be having fun intimidating the younger ones. I don't believe she pecks at them so much now, but they are afraid of her and she can now easily intimidate them without even pecking at them. The other two chickens in the older group are more chill but they do tend to join Lucy when they see her intimidating the younger ones. I just got my coop and run ready this past week and they are all now getting used to it. But Lucy really gets in the way of the younger ones being able to explore and feel safe in their new space. They avoid going where Lucy is, for good reason. I really want them to be able to explore going in and out of the coop/run without restrictions. Yesterday, I had to "rescue" one of the youngest from Lucy, as she had her cornered in the underneath coop (see picture). I don't think Lucy was pecking, but Goose was terrified (I will no longer have them only in the underneath run without supervision for now when Lucy is there). So today I decided to separate Lucy for a while in the temporary coop (which is right next to the bigger coop, so they can still see each other) to give the others a chance to explore and integrate without being afraid. So far, it seems to be working. Does this seem like a good approach? If so, how long should I do it for? They all need to sleep together in the big coop and so far this hasn't been a problem as they all just go on their roost and the younger group sticks together. Would trying the separation just for a few hours have an effect? Thank you!
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