Combined three groups of hens...are we having a territory issue?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by CatMcNamee, Apr 23, 2016.

  1. CatMcNamee

    CatMcNamee Just Hatched

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    Group A... 4 adolescent pullet hens, 22 weeks old, 1 already laying
    Group B... 3 mature hens, 3-4 years old.
    Group C... 3 hens, 10 months old.


    This past November I started new pullets (A) with the plan of replacing my aging hens (B). The group A's were moved outside 2 months ago, in a pen adjacent to the older group B hens, with only hardware cloth separating them, so they would be accustomed to seeing each other before I physically combined them. One of the adolescent hens (A) started laying a week ago.

    Today, I removed the hardware cloth so the the adolescents (A) have access to the proper coop and nest boxes. My friend brought me (3) 10-month old hens (group C) that I agreed to take after her neighbor developed cancer and couldn't manage them. I figured this would be an easy combine, since everyone was going to mingle at the same time, and hierarchies would have to be renegotiated only once.

    It was interesting... the bully from each group A and B, was put in her place right away by one of the Group C hens. There weren't any fights, just a bit of blustering and wing flapping.

    What is weird, is that I just checked them to see where they roosted, they have stayed in their separate groups. The 3 old hens (B's) are in the enlarged proper coop all to themselves. The adolescents (A's) are in their temp coop (a closed up giant dog crate) and the 3 newcomers (group C's) are roosting in the run. I had hoped all would all go into the proper coop tonight, but they have segregated themselves according to previous affiliations/age. Is this a territory issue? What can I do to encourage them all to go in to the enlarged proper coop together?

    The run is only 4' high, so I can't get in there and herd them all into the coop without crawling through muck, after a week of heavy rains. We plan on rebuilding the run to my standing height, this summer. I wonder if I try the "shove them in the back cleanout access door at night" method, there will be a bloodbath? Will the older hens defend the enlarged coop as theirs alone?


    Any ideas? Of course, I can't find my chicken book that I usually turn to when I have a mystery...
    Catherine (dallas/fort worth)
     
  2. TheTwoRoos

    TheTwoRoos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Keep in mind you just stuck them together.It was kinda a rush into the process and they need to get to know them better.But,it's totally okay.

    Keep in mind when you first put chickens together,they aren't thinking pecking order,their being territorial,so just barbecue your hens fight at the beginning,doesn't mean that order will stick.Age could also be a issue.

    My pullets weren't fully accepted till they got in the "laying squad".Of course none of my hens were actually,it is odd.You can just stuff them all in the coop at night.

    The hens also have to learn to get along,some may never.
     
  3. Spartan22

    Spartan22 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We got 8 (2 year old hens) and 11 (one year olds) they been together since June last year, when they go to the run the older ones group together toward the outer unroofed area. While the younger ones stays together under the roofed run, they do mingle when they are eating since we have feeders and waterers in both areas. Now when they roost in the coop they go on opposite perches too (older ones on the highest (4' high) and younger ones on opposite perch walls (3' high) There's a 3rd perch closer to the highest that only one or 2 uses. Go figure they want to be separated yet there's no fighting.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Sounds pretty normal to me.
    How big is your coop(feet by feet)?
    Is there a separate roost for the newbies? Might be a good idea until they all acclimate to one another.
     
  5. CatMcNamee

    CatMcNamee Just Hatched

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    Mar 17, 2013
    The combined run is 10x12'. The enlarged coop is 4'x 5' with roosts crosswise. There isn't a 3rd roost. Ideally I would like them all in the main coop, so I can removed the temporary dog crate roost. I took my old XL dog crate and used the divider panel to make a second floor. That is what I raised the babies in, so I am sure they still consider that their coop. It is covered in tarps so is protected from the elements but wouldn't be sufficient come this winter. Also, it is impossible to get back in there to to collect the eggs, which I found 8 in yesterday! I would like them to go lay in the nest boxes that have an open flap.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2016
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    A 4x5 coop is pretty tight quarters for 10 birds.
    1 foot of roost length per bird is pretty standard.
     
  7. CatMcNamee

    CatMcNamee Just Hatched

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    We are working on a new coop plan right now. Two of the older hens were rehomed yesterday, so now we are down to 8, and the bullies are gone, but only 1 hen went in the coop for the night! The new hens just bed down in the pen, they haven't gone in the coop at all which surprised me since we had a big thunderstorm.
     

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