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Getting new birds and a new house-how to manage?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by potato chip, Jan 3, 2016.

  1. potato chip

    potato chip Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    hahaha - but my chooks are all the same size. The "top chook" just THINKS she's a 500 pound gorilla.

    Mrs K, I'm nervous that somebody would get hurt, I'd certainly suss things out before I'll put my girls in with anyone new. I might be over-estimating their "niceness" but I hope they won't be too bossy and horrible when I get some new girls.
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

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    Younger birds are easier to integrate because the older ones already know they young ones are beneath them in the pecking order so there isn't that issue, and chicks are a normal non threatening addition to a flock, older birds are intruders and seen as a threat to be driven out. 6-10 weeks is the best age for flock integration.
     
  3. potato chip

    potato chip Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    Thanks, I'll try to get them that age then.... Are they on normal (adult) rations by that age? They don't need special baby food or special pellets/crumble or anything?
     
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

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    They should be on a grower, I will usually switch my flock over so they are all eating a non medicated grower with oyster shells on the side.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    So if I get really young chooks, there shouldn't be any tussling for authority, then? How does that fit in with what I've read "get chooks the same size or the little ones will get picked on"? Is there a good age to get new ones so they won't get bashed up, but won't want to fight to be "top chicken"?

    The problem is that some chickens are bullies. A lot of chickens actually when they get a chance. They may be the sweetest thing you ever saw, all cuddly to you and get along great with their peers, yet when a weaker chicken shows up they can be brutal. They especially like to peck the head, they can do a lot of damage there.

    It’s not a tussle for authority. Get that thought out of your head when you are talking about mature versus immature chickens. It’s not authority, it’s pure and simple rank. The mature ones outrank the immature. Think back to Medieval times. If a peasant invaded the personal space of the lord and acted impertinent the lord would probably squish them, sometimes brutally. Usually the peasant and lord would coexist quite peacefully, but occasionally you had a lord that was brutal just because he could be. When an immature chicken invades the personal space of a mature chicken, there will sometimes be consequences, sometimes not. Quite often they will peacefully coexist, but occasionally you have a hen that is a pure brute. It’s almost always hens by the way. A dominant rooster is not likely to behave this way. He normally takes care of all his flock.

    Does this happen each and every time their personal space is invaded? No, especially if the older hen is used to having the younger one around. I’ve seen plenty of young chicks mingle with older flock members with no consequences, but this is usually after the broody hen has spent a week or two teaching the others to not bother her babies. Not all hens are that brutal anyway, but a lot can be when they get a chance. The worst ones I’ve seen are the ones lowest in the pecking order, as if they are jealous of their position and worried about losing it.

    I’ve got a lot of posts on here. You won’t find any where I said "get chooks the same size or the little ones will get picked on"? From what I’ve seen size doesn’t really matter but maturity does. Even with all mature chickens it’s not unusual for a bantam to outrank a full-sized chicken. They dominate them by spirit more than brute strength. But a mature chicken will outrank any immature chicken regardless of size.

    One basic way chickens have learned to live together in a flock is that if there is a conflict the weaker runs away from the stronger. That’s why some of us have been so concerned with space. They need room to run away. Or room to avoid. The weaker will pretty much avoid the stronger especially after the first conflict. That’s why younger chicks often form a sub-flock and just stay away from the adults as much as they can. When I open the coop in the morning and I have younger chicks in there, the chicks will be on the roosts while the adults are on the floor. The chicks are avoiding the adults.

    I don’t have a perfect age for integration. I don’t bring in any older chickens, all mine are raised by a broody hen with the flock or in a brooder built into the coop. Whenever the broody hen weans them, anywhere from 3 to 9 weeks usually, they make their own way with the flock. They avoid the older ones, they learned that while the broody was taking care of them. I turn my brooder raised chicks loose with the flock anywhere from 5 to 8 weeks, depending on circumstances. They were raised in the presence of the flock so it’s not a problem. And I have a fair amount of room, a 3 meter x 4 meter coop, a 4 meter x 11 meter run, plus an area 15 meters x 30 meters in electric netting. They have a lot of room to avoid the adults. If space were so tight they could not run away or avoid the older hens I’d be extremely worried. I’m convinced most of the behavioral problems people have on this forum is because of lack off enough room.

    One time I had a one week old chick get inside a pen of 8 week old chicks. The broody hen could not get in there to protect her baby and the chick was trapped, it could not get out. They killed it by scalping it. Why? Because they can be bullies when they get a chance.

    People integrate chickens of all ages all the time, usually with little drama. There are certain techniques to follow that improve your odds of things going smoothly, house them where they can see each other for a while so they get used to each other, have separate food and water stations so they can eat and drink without challenging the other chickens, and give them plenty of room. There might be some drama but normally it works out. Often it is so peaceful that you wonder what all the worry was about even if you don’t follow the techniques that closely, but occasionally chickens get killed or seriously injured even if you do everything right.
     
  6. potato chip

    potato chip Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    I wonder if the chicken farm does psychological assessments so I don't get a nasty one? [​IMG]
    Quote: Makes sense. Being pushed around might make you a bit cranky as well.

    Quote: I've been reading a lot of online info. I may have misunderstood that advice - it might be because, IF picked on, a small chook might not have as much physical size to withstand assaults that it was suggested.
    Quote: It makes sense - people are the same if they are stressed by "living on top of one another"
    Quote: I've been through this type of thing with other pets. Research, ask questions, get told a lot of things that turn out not to be the drama you were anticipating. The internet is great, but sometimes having huge amounts of information at your fingertips can be a bit overwhelming.

    Thanks for all the help.
     
  7. potato chip

    potato chip Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    The new house is here and all set up. The girls moved straight in to the run, I've put their feeder in there and they were happy there yesterday. I thought I'd leave them in and hope they'd go inside, but they just stood at the front looking out and I took pity on them and let them go back to their own house to sleep.

    So, what now? I've read other threads and have the suggestions to put a light inside and to manually put them in there. My question is whether it's mean to lock them in there if they are thinking they are being kept from "home". It's the middle of summer, it's hot and it wouldn't really hurt them if they slept in the run instead of indoors. Should I just harden up and not be influenced by their little chicken faces looking at me accusingly? Shut them in, and let them get used to it?
     
  8. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

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    At some point you will have to ignore the sad faces because it will go on for a while. I would move them during the morning than go out in the evening and put them inside until they do it by themselves. Good luck.
     
  9. potato chip

    potato chip Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    Thanks - but will they forgive me, or hate me forever? [​IMG]
     
  10. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

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    Feed them their favorite snacks in the new coop while explaining to them how much better it is than the old coop, it could work, especially if you keep smiling.
     

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