First time integrating new birds problems

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by robsiew, Jul 27, 2016.

  1. robsiew

    robsiew New Egg

    Jun 3, 2016
    Hi! We have 3 1 year old hens and 5 11 week old pullets we are in the process of integrating. We live right in the center of the city on a city plot just to give you a sense of our space.

    I built a temporary run for the pullets right next to the big girls. The older hens have a coop and decent sized run. I am able to have all the birds out free ranging in the yard together, but at night and when we are not around we put them into their respective places.

    So, I'm having an issue with one hen. She has been bullied by one of our other hens and now she thinks it's her turn to bully the babies. The other two hens are respectful of the pullets... they just kind of stay to different sides of the yard and everyone is okay.

    However, our other hen (Hazel), from the beginning has chased these poor pullets all around the yard. The pullets don't do anything (in fact they avoid her at all cost) and she comes charging at them from across the yard upsetting everyone. She also will pull feathers out of them is she happens to catch one. She has also taken over their "home" and goes in and prevents anyone from coming in. (that's where their food is).

    The pullets are really too big to make a way in just for them... wherever they can fit the big girls can fit too.

    I want to start getting the pullets used to the big coop and run, but Hazel corners them every single time and won't leave them alone. The other two big girls seem to be fine. They will chase them away from treats, etc. but I know that's normal. I have no idea how I'm going to be able to bring the little girls into the fold with Hazel.

    Short of isolating Hazel is there anything I can do to train her not to go after the pullets? They are deathly afraid of her (she chased 4 out of the 5 over the fence into the neighbor's yard this morning!) so they don't go near her if they don't have to. But once they are in the coop and run they will be in close quarters.

    Thanks for any advice you can give me! We only got 3 chicks last year to make sure raising chickens was for us. It was, so we wanted more this year, but in the future I will NOT try to combine different ages!
  2. robsiew

    robsiew New Egg

    Jun 3, 2016
    Anyone with any advice? I have gone to not letting them out together unless I am out there with them. Otherwise I let one group out at a time. Maybe I'm just trying to integrate too early? I read 16 weeks would be a better age. I'm guessing this problem won't go away though.
  3. Birdydeb

    Birdydeb Chillin' With My Peeps

    I am about as new at this as you are but I thought I read in another thread to remove the bully. Do you have some way that Hazel can be shut up for a bit? A big dog crate maybe? It is a territorial thing with her I believe. Hopefully a long time chicken owner will come along and add to this. If it were me I would try isolating Hazel in a big dog crate with food and water and see if that helps adjust her attitude. Or at least I would start with that.

    Eta: at the very least it would give the new pullets some rest.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2016
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    This is not at all unusual, low hen of older group is most likely to want to defend her place in the pecking order.....and/or just revels in the chance to finally have some lower birds to pound on and lord it over

    The majority consensus of what age to integrate has shifted a bit in the last year or so, a lot of folks have moved to integrating at 4-6 weeks or younger using a barrier with tiny doors for the chicks to have a respite area, as the older birds are not as defensive against tiny babies and the babies are fast and small and harder to catch and pin down. But I digress.

    Your are correct that waiting until birds are older will not solve the it's not about size or age but who was here first and the battle for territory(space) and resources(food/water).

    More info on your coops/runs sizes(feet by feet) and pics of setup could help us help you find a 'solution'.

    The more space the better,
    the more places to hide out of line of sight(but not dead end traps) and/or up and away from aggressors the better,
    the more food/water stations the better.
    Usually, as long as no copious blood is drawn and no one is getting pinned down and beaten unmercilessly,
    its best just to let them work it out. Separating birds often just starts the integration process over again. Chickens can be vicious, pecking and chasing each other, causing the peckee to run away squawking...but if you observe closely they chased bird moves away(this is where ample space is crucial) continues on their's just part of chicken society and bothers a keeper more than it bothers the chickens.
    1 person likes this.
  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    Actually, if you had integrated much earlier it would have gone more smoothly. There's no training you can give Hazel to make her stop, though you can isolate her for awhile and that may change the pecking order for when she comes back.

    For the most part, I'd just throw them all in together and let them sort it out. They will learn to avoid her and that's what she wants, really. Feed them all in the same area and at the same time, once a day, and they will be concentrating on the food more than the pecking order....that works great around here.

    It just might be that close quarters will be the answer....isolate her with ALL the chicks. I did that with a chick aggressive rooster of mine once and he was the odd man out, couldn't stomp on them all at feeding time as he was too busy just trying to get some food with them all swarming the feeder. Pretty soon he just started ignoring them as there were too many to deal with.
  6. Finnie

    Finnie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 27, 2014
    You didn't mention how many days it's been since you introduced both groups. Did you by any chance have a period of time where the chicks were kept penned in their run while the hens could see them through the wire and get used to them before you let the two groups mingle? I usually allow a week of that before I open the chicks door and let the groups meet.

    How many days have they been mingling? They might just need more time.
  7. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

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