Flock merging.... I failed.... ugh

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by KDbeads, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. KDbeads

    KDbeads Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 20, 2009
    East Central VA
    This weekend, in an effort to reduce total number of temporary pens we have out here we decided to merge 3 groups. The 7 to 8 month old ee's, our white silke pair and 2 15 week old pullets. We were hoping there would be so much confusion that there would be less pecking etc for the little ones.

    Well, we were wrong.

    Even though the pullets and the EE's have been next to each other for 2 months now, my little ones still got torn to pieces by the older EE's [​IMG] The silkies merged in rather nicely, no squabbling at all, although I did have to lock the roo up for the first few hours in a dog crate because he was jumping everything and sounding alarms every 5 minutes that had all 27 birds out here freaked out. Once he was done with his time out the EE's put him in his place but they left the silkie hen alone. And so far the 5 are just fine together.

    Now the pullets. Seven (ee) is almost the same size as a silkie girl and Miagi (mutt) is almost the same size as my EE's. I was letting nature and pecking order take it's course until a little while ago. I was collecting eggs today and watched as all 3 big EE's jumped Seven at the same time and tore her neck open in a few spots, they had already ripped out most of her tail feathers yesterday. Miagi was right next to her and lost a large number of tail feathers in the melee. I stepped in and retrieved both pullets, who until Saturday thought I was evil, now they run for us when we get close to the pen. Both of them jumped straight into my open jacket and refused to let me put them down for almost a half hour.
    Once they calmed down I doctored Seven up a bit and took them back to the ramshackle grow out pen.

    We'll try again in a couple of months but if Seven stays this small I may decide to put her in with the B/B/S silkie flock. And depending on whether or not Neo (silkie/ee mix) is a boy/girl, we may make other arrangements. But I was so hoping to reduce the pen number to 3 or 4 [​IMG]
     
  2. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    Seattle
    I don't have nearly as many birds as you do (mine total 5) but I've noticed my 2 EE are the ones that get picked on by the bigger birds, if there's tension. I think it's the size thing. And also maybe because the feathers around the face make it harder to see?

    Anyway, I've found the best remedy is to make sure all the birds have plenty of space to get away from each other and plenty of activities to keep them from getting bored. Mine do best when they're free-ranging the yard, simply because there are lots of places to escape to and so many interesting things to keep bullies (and everyone) occupied for hours and hours -- side by side, even.

    When they're tired in the evening, they also are happy to snuggle up on the roost together. During our heavy rains and winds, my birds usually want to stay in their covered run. But, a long day stuck in the run can create tension between the birds. Sometimes I'll throw in an armload of weeds for them to scratch through, or a pumpkin to pick apart, or several sunchokes, etc. But, that's a lot more work for me. Free-ranging is my easy, no-work solution.

    If I were merging flocks, or adding more birds, I'd use lots of free-ranging as the means to get them acquainted, keep down tensions, and give the newcomers lots of spaces to escape bullies. Also, I'd give them temporary extra feeders inside and waterers placed outside, so everyone can get what they need, without as much fighting.
     
  3. KDbeads

    KDbeads Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 20, 2009
    East Central VA
    Free ranging is NOT an option here and they have more than enough room in their run for 7 birds.
    If it was overcrowding I doubt they would have stopped with the 2 little ones.
    Personally I think the little ones were a bit too young, now that I've been thinking about it.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by