Everybody Kung fu fighting!

grettasurfergirl

Chirping
May 27, 2019
59
47
61
Solana Beach, CA
We hatched some new chicks with 2 different broody hens and I separated mama and chicks at first but now am trying to put everyone back together. So I have one lone EE that’s been in the coop/run while the others were gone with chicks, one Silkie with 2 chicks almost 7 weeks old, and one EE with 3 chicks 3.5 weeks old. I tried letting them just see each other for a few days but then when I opened up the door between them all everyone went batshit crazy and started fighting. The solo EE attacked the other EE and the mama EE attacked the Silkie and it was a big mess. What am I going to do with them all? Just let them work it out on their own? Chicks seemed unharmed but the hens wouldn’t give it up between themselves! Help!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
84,305
97,683
1,677
SW Michigan
My Coop
How long were the chicks separated from their mamas?
Best to leave chicks with mama's and let her introduce to the flock.
Hens will fight it out, but chicks are usually safe.
Were broodies separated from flock while incubating?
I separate by wire wall until a week after hatch, then the wall comes down.

Even a few days separation can make everyone 'strangers'.
Sounds like you'll have to start over with the.......
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.
Good ideas for hiding places:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/a-cluttered-run.1323792/
 

grettasurfergirl

Chirping
May 27, 2019
59
47
61
Solana Beach, CA
How long were the chicks separated from their mamas?
Best to leave chicks with mama's and let her introduce to the flock.
Hens will fight it out, but chicks are usually safe.
Were broodies separated from flock while incubating?
I separate by wire wall until a week after hatch, then the wall comes down.

Even a few days separation can make everyone 'strangers'.
Sounds like you'll have to start over with the.......
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.
Good ideas for hiding places:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/a-cluttered-run.1323792/
Thank you so much for all of this great information!! Very helpful. I didn’t separate the chicks from the mamas but had moved them all out together and had a dog crate and small outdoor area for them. So the Silkie stayed with her chicks separated from the EE with her chicks. And now I’m just trying to get them to go back together. I will try the strategies you’ve listed, big thanks again!!!
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,012
16,653
766
Holts Summit, Missouri
Too late for this debacle, but I have a method that works even for more combative chicks. I combine them with an adult rooster. He may peck some but otherwise moderates combativeness of chicks / juveniles.

Debacle.
 

Sonya9

Crowing
6 Years
Feb 7, 2014
1,875
1,090
271
Georgia
But you separated the mamas/chicks from the others? Yeah that is a big problem. The sitting hen, or hen with chicks needs to be alongside the flock so she is not considered an outsider/stranger after weeks of being away.

Same applies to an injured/ill bird that is pulled from the others for several days or weeks. It causes problems when they return. I would pen all 3 groups up next to each other and let the get re-acquainted over time, then eventually and SLOWLY start letting them mix when they can free range. Maybe let the EE out to free range and when she is away from the coop then let one of the hens/chicks out (but not all at once). Do it when they have los of space, if they are penned up together the fighting is way worse.
 

grettasurfergirl

Chirping
May 27, 2019
59
47
61
Solana Beach, CA
Too late for this debacle, but I have a method that works even for more combative chicks. I combine them with an adult rooster. He may peck some but otherwise moderates combativeness of chicks / juveniles.

Debacle.
I totally agree, debacle sums it up perfectly! I’m not sure if I can ever make this right and I thought about the rooster idea but we’re not allowed to have them where we live. Thanks though!!
 

grettasurfergirl

Chirping
May 27, 2019
59
47
61
Solana Beach, CA
But you separated the mamas/chicks from the others? Yeah that is a big problem. The sitting hen, or hen with chicks needs to be alongside the flock so she is not considered an outsider/stranger after weeks of being away.

Same applies to an injured/ill bird that is pulled from the others for several days or weeks. It causes problems when they return. I would pen all 3 groups up next to each other and let the get re-acquainted over time, then eventually and SLOWLY start letting them mix when they can free range. Maybe let the EE out to free range and when she is away from the coop then let one of the hens/chicks out (but not all at once). Do it when they have los of space, if they are penned up together the fighting is way worse.
Thanks so much for the advice, I will see what I can do. How long should I wait with them just near each other in different pens before letting them interact a bit? Like a week? I wish I had known about separating the chicks and mama from the flock, that was a terrible idea looking back. Our coop is raised and I read that the baby chicks will just fall out of them (it’s about 3 feet up) and get really hurt. So I thought I should have them someplace safer but clearly they should’ve just stayed put. At this point I might just have to call my chicken tending days quits. Thanks for the advice!
 

Sonya9

Crowing
6 Years
Feb 7, 2014
1,875
1,090
271
Georgia
Thanks so much for the advice, I will see what I can do. How long should I wait with them just near each other in different pens before letting them interact a bit? Like a week? I wish I had known about separating the chicks and mama from the flock, that was a terrible idea looking back. Our coop is raised and I read that the baby chicks will just fall out of them (it’s about 3 feet up) and get really hurt. So I thought I should have them someplace safer but clearly they should’ve just stayed put. At this point I might just have to call my chicken tending days quits. Thanks for the advice!
Don't give up, they can be integrated. Course hatching eggs means you probably have male chicks but that is a concern for another day. I would separate them for a few days and then slowly start mixing again (not all at once and not in a closed run). Broodies with babies are testy and aggressive towards other flock members under the best of circumstances.

Also if you ever do have to rehome I would advertise them as broodies and only let them go to homes that realize these are special hens that will raise babies. That also ensures they will be desirable additions to a flock even if they are a few years old.
 
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