Flock Integration Issues

May 22, 2020
576
956
123
Texas
I had the same integration issues too, 3 pullets and 1 roo that grew up together for the first bunch, and 6 pullets purchased a month later. The 4 were NOT having it, and I had to wait until the 6 were of the same size as the 4. Hubby built a tractor (predator proof) and the 4 lost the coop and run, got relocated to the tractor and the 6 got the run & coop. Tractor was set right next to run, complete with nest box and barn tin for night time. This took 9 weeks, everyone free ranged in the evening for an hour with no issues, but integration was impossible and oh did we have blood. Never thought it would work, but it finally did one night after dark when we made them stay out until all they could see was our flashlights and a solar light in the coop! LOL Finally we have peace! Do you still have your smaller coop? Can you separate them until Spring when the pullets are older?
 

Sueby

Crowing
Apr 23, 2019
1,094
6,981
396
CT
Then I would not rehome any of them....because they are probably all carriers.
I'd be putting a couple of those older birds in the stew pot....not everyone ideal, but.
I have not, nor would I ever, rehome any of them - hence the reason we culled mean girl. I won't even let my neighbor or friends with chickens come over! It was a dumb situation, the avian vet told me they wouldn't be carriers (& I specifically asked) so we didn't think much of it but we found out very differently later on. If I had to do it again, knowing what I know now, I would have culled the lot of them. I don't know how an avian vet wouldn't know that, but I guess he sucks at what he does. :gig
 

Eelantha

Songster
Mar 11, 2018
255
330
147
Quebec (Qc)
Thank you again everyone. Somewhat reassuring to hear from others that I've tried! And that it's perhaps more common than I thought to have to re-home a bird. I will admit I did not research integration issues BEFORE getting our new chicks, which was my mistake and may have changed my decision. I will post back after trying the pinless peepers. Part of the run is covered and two sides of the run are 6 ft high fence so even if the little girls are outside they are not totally exposed for this next cold snap.

I did have one more question. I hear most suggesting to try to re-home the pullet (victim) but I'm a little concerned the aggression would just shift to the other pullet? She does not currently mix with the other four at all in the run although they seem to tolerate her if the accidentally end up in close proximity. I do understand the younger bird would be easier to re-home. But I suppose I also worry about sending her to a similar fate as she seems very dependent on the other pullet (she frequently hides or rests underneath her) and I'm not sure she would be able to establish herself in a new flock all by herself. Is the recommendation to try to remove the pullet primarily because she will be easier to re-home or am I missing something else about flock dynamics?

For what it's worth I'm not sure the aggressor (Skye) is truly the most dominant bird. The two Brahmas are BIG girls and pretty much do as they please and have first access to everything but except for a random attack or two don't seem to mind the little girls.
I've been facing a very similar situation to yours here all year. One of my hens went broody, had chicks, and booted them out once they hit adolescence. From that point on they were on their own, and despite months of the 'see but don't touch' method (where youths interact with adults through a wired fence), this did nothing to ease one of my adult birds into the idea of welcoming the new additions into the pecking order. On the contrary, every time I let them all mix together in the run, my plymouth rock would attack them. In her case, she started attacking them as soon as they were born, snapping at their down through the broody wire fence when they were chicks, and running after them in the enclosure to tear off their feathers when I started integration months later. Her chick intolerance spread to the rest of the flock, and two-thirds of them went aggressive as a result. Even my gentlest bird now pecks hard at her flockmates to get her point across in chicken conversations. I wince every time I see it.

I've read alot of integration posts for tips and tricks over how to jumble things up so the flock mixes more easily. I spent weeks looking up for an answer, and months trying out different tactics in the hopes that something worked. Isolation (both chicks and pickers), wire fence interaction, 1-on-1 broody battle for top hen spot, group/multiple treats, several feeders and waterers, clustered run, more roosts and perches, more run space, etc - none of them worked. NONE. *cries*

My personal conclusions over the matter, based on my own observations and experiences, is that if your chickens are not rigorously selected for chick tolerance and flock integration, then the daily life of your coop will be hellish, both for your chickens and yourself. Do not raise chicks or add new flock members if you have such chickens. (Or, re-home your birds and start anew with better-behaved ones.)

In that same vein, again from personal observations and experience, crossed chickens (crossbreds, mutts, commercial hens/roosters) are not good candidates for chick and flock integration unless you are 120% sure that their parents (both of them) come from several generations of gentle, chick/integration tolerant stock. Purebred chickens are also eligible to that nonsense, but their ability to breed true means a ruthless selection for all-around good temperament can eventually yield birds that will tolerate chicks and won't declare all out war to new flock members. (Battle to establish pecking order is normal. Hunting a cowering specimen and trying to maul it several times a day is not.) Crossed chickens can also be brought to good behavior, but the mix-mash of genes and unknown parentage means you'll take much longer to get there.

If you ask chick and flock integration tolerance in chickens from a local or web breeder and they cannot answer you (or they're vague in their answer, a trap I fell into in favor of the rare breeds I wanted to obtain), do your sensible heart a favor and don't buy chickens from that breeder or you'll find yourself with several nasty surprises down the road. I for one certainly don't like what I'm dealing with at present. (My birthday Silkie from last year, who I didn't know was a cull, vented her anger out on my two Easter Eggers (whose dad was not nice). They in turn made a bully out of my docile but territorial Plymouth (whose temper, proficient egg-laying and body shape makes me suspect her mother is a commercial sex-link), and she took her aggression out on my Ameraucana chicks, whom I ultimately had to re-home before murder was committed.)

The aggression that befell my coop since this springtime has not let up with the chicks now gone. My riled Plymouth has now switched the focus of her attacks on one of my molting Legbars, who is the same age as her. She attacks her often enough that my calm Legbar is staring to get jumpy. The only reason I have not re-homed my Plymouth is because her eggs support me through the crazy times of the Covid-19, and she's my best layer.

For your Plymouth picker:

Try removing your Plymouth from the flock before re-homing your pullets. As isolation in a cage does not work, have her stay in the care of another chicken backyarder or a nearby farmer for a few weeks instead; see how your pullets do with your dominant hens while your Plymouth is away. If the flock dynamic gets better, that means the real troublemaker of the coop was your Plymouth, and she had to go. Keep an eye on your flighty pullet though, if she retains her terror weeks after the Plymouth is gone, the other girls might be tempted to attack her. If they don't, then there is no need to re-home your poor pullet.

If you want both your two pullets and your Plymouth to stay, the next best thing is to have a second coop and run, one for the old hens, one for the pullets. Your Plymouth won't feel threatened in her territory, the pullets will be attack-free, and you'll get two more eggs a day. If they have access to the backyard and your Plymouth attacks them then, let the old hens out one day and the pullets the next. That way everyone can benefit from the backyard without touching each other.

Good luck with your girls, I sincerely hope there is an efficient solution out there that will help you salvage your pullets and your Plymouth!
 

prettylittlehens

Chirping
Oct 14, 2020
34
174
56
Not sure if this will help or not- but figured I would make the suggestion since you would like to avoid rehoming if possible. Have you tried adding them to the coop at night time? We had a flock of 10 that had been raised together since the brooder and I purchased two LO hens to add to the mix. I quarantined the LO’s and when it was time for them to mix in with my flock I simply put them in a large dog carrier, pushed that carrier into the coop at night once the others had went to roost, and left the carrier door open so that the new hens could exit and roam about as they pleased. I always check on them early the next morning and if I don’t see any obvious problems then I assume all is well (of course I check on them a few times throughout the day as well.) I don’t think my others even notice there are new feathers in the group because they are sleeping through the excitement. I have since used this method two more times when adding Maran hens and it always seems to work out rather well for me. Some squabbling is expected as new chickens learn their place in the pecking order but using this method I’ve never had any violent attacks on the newbies like you seem to be experiencing. I’m sorry to hear you’re having so much trouble integrating yours, I hope everything works itself out!
 
Jul 7, 2020
4
6
8
Thanks again for everyone taking the time to read and reply - everything has been helpful in one way or another.

Thank you for the warning on not being able to drink from water nipples with pinless peepers. That is what I use on my heated water heater (going to get to 0 degrees here Sunday night) and because I can't directly see the coop from inside my house I might not have noticed Skye wasn't able to find the water. So that may not be an option right now.

Eelantha I'm so sorry to hear about your issues! But hearing about your situation is still helpful for me so thank you for sharing.

We are pretty snowed in here and having two outside coops with runs that can handle the snow isn't really an option for us. I think I have come to the decision to try to find Skye a new home once we get through this weather. I don't really have any fellow chicken keepers in town but we live close to rural areas so I'm hopeful I can find someone with a larger coop/run setup. Skye is still a good layer although she's still in molt right now so not looking her best. It sounds like I do need to be prepared that this may not solve all my issues, so good to go into it with realistic expectations.
 

Sueby

Crowing
Apr 23, 2019
1,094
6,981
396
CT
Thank you for the warning on not being able to drink from water nipples with pinless peepers. That is what I use on my heated water heater (going to get to 0 degrees here Sunday night) and because I can't directly see the coop from inside my house I might not have noticed Skye wasn't able to find the water. So that may not be an option right now.
Give it a try when you can watch her, she may be much smarter than mine! Mine walked backwards in circles for over an hour when I first put them on her. :gig
But then she figured it out & was able to eat & roost ok & I kept a bowl of open water out.
 

Eelantha

Songster
Mar 11, 2018
255
330
147
Quebec (Qc)
@Chicks in Suburbia - Plymouths are a very well liked breed, so it should be easy for you to re-home your lady. If people don't want her as a laying chicken, she can still be someone's pet chicken. Old hens are less bothered by egg-laying so they have more time to spend with their owners, making them perfect companions for those who want a feathery friend 👍
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom