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Can't they all just get along????

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Hrhchazman, Aug 24, 2016.

  1. Hrhchazman

    Hrhchazman Out Of The Brooder

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    Grab a cup of coffee, this is gonna be a long one.
    So I've searched this site and read a few posts (and the replies) but I can't seem to find our problem listed (exactly anyway) so here goes....
    We have five Silkie hens. Two of them are newer to the "flock." (if I can even call five girls a flock) We tried introducing them slowly, and when we finally did put them all together things didn't seem to be too bad... at first. But instead of getting better, the three older ones just won't accept the new girls, and one in particular (I'll call her "Penny" because, well, her name is Penny) seems to be the most aggressive towards the two youngsters, who, though younger, are not that much smaller than the "old girls". This really shocked us, because before the new girls came she seemed to be the sweetest of the trio. We really thought she would "mother" them and protect them from the other two. WRONG! The really odd thing is, the one we thought would be the biggest problem, (I'll call her Banjo because, yeah, you know. We also call her Bit-cho because she does an awful lot of that) is the one who seems to bother the youngsters the least. So far we have tried letting them work it out, putting the old girls in "time out" in a separate pen when they pick on the other two, and I even tried a shot from a spray bottle of water to the back or chest area, which seemed to give them an idea that what they're doing is wrong, but when I walk away, it's right back to it again. The new girls would inch their way up the ramp at night, just to get closer to the old ones, and have even had some success. But last night they chose to sleep under the ramp, I'm guessing probably because they're tired of being picked on. When we're home we even put them all out in a larger penned in area of the yard, but most of the time it's like watching two rival gangs. One at each end. Occasionally they will mingle, the the youngsters are deathly afraid of the old girls, and scream, then run away when pecked at, or freeze if an old girl comes near them.
    This has been going on for about a month, maybe six weeks.
    So, anybody got any ideas on how to bring them all together. I mean these are SILKIES, not known to be an aggressive breed, right?

    Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions,

    Charlie
     
  2. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    Space is a big factor and time....Chickens have a very strong pecking order and it could take a week or a few months for things to get figured out amongst them...As long as no blood is shed, do not interfere....They are chickens and know what they are doing to establish their flock....
     
  3. Hrhchazman

    Hrhchazman Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the reply. I have never liked bullies, and it's just hard to watch.... But I'm sure you're right, they will work it out eventually. I guess.
     
  4. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Normal pecking order behavior. It can take months for them to become a cohesive flock. It's just the way chickens are. They take their social order very seriously.
     
  5. carlf

    carlf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Natural behavior.
    Make humans cringe because we see it as "bullying.
    But then you have to remember they are chickens and they have to work it out their way.
     
  6. Hrhchazman

    Hrhchazman Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for the reply. I know you're right. We just worry about all of our girls because we have lost a couple in the past, and it's just heartbreaking for us. We're a sensitive family, and all of our pets are part of our family.

    Thanks again,

    Charlie
     
  7. Sweet Basil

    Sweet Basil Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Years ago, I learned the hard way to never introduce a single chicken into the flock. All the hens were so stressed that several of them got sick and nearly died before I could nurse them back to health.

    Now I always introduce new hens in groups of two or three (or more) so the new ones can comfort each other. Every time, the new pair of hens will act scared of the others for weeks because certain hens will pick mercilessly at them. It's usually several months before they all hang out together like a cohesive flock. It's hard to watch, but there's rarely ever a serious injury from their scuffles.

    We have a young silkie/cochin mix who is a mother for the first time this week. I'm shocked at how aggressive that little girl can be to defend her babies! I was concerned because she was on the bottom of the pecking order, but she's definitely holding her own!

    Best wishes for you and your hens.
     
  8. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    Years ago she introduced a sick chicken and killed her flock.......Not stress...Chickens do not die from stress. They shut down......
     
  9. Hrhchazman

    Hrhchazman Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for another great (and reassuring) reply.
    On another subject I've been wanting to mention, we take our girls with us when we go camping. They're a big hit at the campground, and believe it or not, it has broken two of them from being broody twice. Not sure if it's the change in location, the fact that they are away from their home coop, or maybe, like us, they just like camping! But it has definitely cut the cycle short. The first time we thought we were just lucky, but the second time it was obvious.
    So if you're ever having broody problems, take em' camping.... just don't let them get to close to the campfire. [​IMG]
     
  10. Sweet Basil

    Sweet Basil Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What I meant by that was not that the stress itself made them sick...Chickens in different flocks can build up immunity to different illnesses they've been exposed to. When the hens are stressed-out (just like when a person is under great stress), it sometimes weakens their immune systems and they can't fight off illnesses that the new hens may be carrying. The new little hen I introduced never got sick, but the majority of my existing flock did.
     

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