Giving up on integrating my new hens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by MsL, Oct 23, 2011.

  1. MsL

    MsL Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 30, 2010
    Well, as we are fairly new to chickens, we made about every mistake possible when integrating two new pullets to our existing flock of three, very competent layers. We didn't use strict quarantine procedures (read about that a little late); we added younger hens, rather than ones of the same size; and we added the new ones while our hens were molting (one of them is going through a hard molt).

    Boy, do we feel stupid.

    However, we have tried many things over the past month and a half, to no avail. On the positive side, they free range together and they sleep together. Bed time and first light is stressful, and often ugly, however. We did have the newbies mostly separate for a week. Then they began free ranging and sharing the hen house as well as the run. My alpha hen has accepted them, but not my two RIR/Delaware hens. They continue to be excessively aggressive, occasionally drawing blood if I am not quick. I recently just gave the reds a four day time-out, hoping to increase the bond between the alpha and the newbies, while taking the reds down a peg. That didn't work, as the reds are right back at it. Weeks ago I built a nest box addition to the hen house and a roost outside the door to the hen house so my newbies would have places to escape more safely, which did help, but didn't solve anything.

    So now I either build them their own hen house and fortify the run for them, or I return them to the vet/outreach center where I got them (all five came from the same place, by the way). One of the new ones is a beautiful australorp cross and the other is at least part bantam (probably some wyandotte in her, but not sure). They are such pretty hens, and the australorp is very sweet and enjoys snuggling. Her docile nature doesn't help her with the bullies, however. Luckily the two newbies are great fliers and have no difficulty getting higher than my hens, if need be, for a quick escape when ranging.

    I guess I just need to make up my mind, but it has been very helpful to read what others have tried, so thank you for that. I can't believe the amount of chicken stress I have felt, trying to make this right. Silly, I suppose. I feel like a bad mama hen who can't seem to control her chicks. Bummer that the "sorting it all out" never really happened. Again, my fault (and a bit lies at the feet of my crabby hens, whose position has never been challenged). Thanks for letting me vent. I'll decide this week. [​IMG]
  2. pinkwindsong

    pinkwindsong Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 18, 2011
    Laurens SC
    dont feel bad.. its all a learning hobby.. your girls will come around.. it takes some longer than others and now you know what breeds not to get in the future.
    I have found Favorite breeds this year and my favorite is my barred Holland she accepts everyone no matter old hen added to the flock, or new chicks even my meat chicks she is sweet and calm all the time.. that is so important to me as you have found crabby hens are stressful. for them and us.. and best of all she lays every day.. even when she motled and the heat this summer.. she laid... big plus for me...

    good luck )O(
  3. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Why not just leave them where they are? If the others are not SERIOUSLY injuring them, they will be fine. It takes time for new birds to be integrated into the flock. The pecking order is just that - a 'pecking' order. It is fluid and everchanging and just a normal part of keeping fowl. Bigger/stronger/aggressive birds 'peck' at smaller/weaker/meeker birds. [​IMG]
  4. MsL

    MsL Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 30, 2010
    Well, if I never travelled, I could probably deal with things this way. But I have another house in Peru and travel several weeks through the year, so I leave my pets in the care of others, and I can't count on them for dawn/dusk attention. I am afraid with the bloodshed that my australorp will meet an early demise. Free range = ok. Cooped = bloody bird. Perhaps you are right, though, and I am fussing too much, but I would feel soooo bad if I allowed her death or serious injury.
  5. UrbanFarmerGreg

    UrbanFarmerGreg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 11, 2011
    I just have a question about mixing some black sex-link hens with leghorns.... I currently have 2 runner ducks and 2 leghorns ( a male and female of both) and I am trading my Leghorn cockerel for 3 black sex-link and 1 red sex-link, I was told 3 black star and 1 red star, hens all about 1 year old. Would it be OK to put these 4 with 1 leghorn pullet and the 2 ducks? Will it just be the normal pecking order thing or could the 4 gang up on the one? I think the ducks will look after themselves as they are bigger. Can someone please inform me...
  6. MsL

    MsL Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 30, 2010
    I wish I could help you. I have no idea what would happen. One of the things I am considering is trading my newbies for bigger hens that will be more able and apt to defend themselves, once my existing hens finish their molt. Surprising to me was the acceptance of the new ones by my alpha hen, but not by the lower ranking ones.

    I wish you luck.

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