Help--Added to flock. AAARRRGGG!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Echobabe, Jan 16, 2008.

  1. Echobabe

    Echobabe Songster

    Oct 30, 2007
    Last Thursday we brought home 2 pullets home to add to our established flock of 4 that we raised from babies last spring.

    My girls are being so territorial about the food, the water, yard, etc. How long does it normally take before everyone comes to some acceptance?

    It probably doesn't help that one of the new gals was fairly high on the food chain at the last place, and she's used to better treatment (Diva). The other is so timid she's afraid to step outside and hides in the nests all day long. The only good news is there hasn't been any fights since last Friday, when Diva got crated for the day (a chicken time-out).

    The weatherman says its going to be too cold next week for my hens to range outside--I really hope they can settle their hierarchy by then.

    All advice greatly appreciated.

    Elise in Michigan
    2 barred rocks, 1 RIR, 1 australorp, 2 partridge rocks (new)
  2. lurky

    lurky Songster

    Jun 4, 2007
    Western MA
    I would give them time in a neutral place. Make a play area in the basement or barn or somewhere that is not anyones turf. Maybe it would help. Good luck.
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    Well, since you already have them together, give them some tough love. It will take 2 or more weeks for them to figure out who is boss and then they will be fine. From reading others experiences, if you take out the one being picked on, it seems to make it even worse as they learn that if they pick on them, you will take the intruder out. Just treat like normal and the lower ones should get food and water after everyone else is at roost.

    Some precautions next time before introducing new adult birds is to quarantine them for about a month to make sure no sickness shows up and to check them for mites and lice just in case.
  4. UncleHoot

    UncleHoot Songster

    May 22, 2007
    St. Johns, Michigan
    I added 2 ISA Browns to my flock of 6 (2 are roo's) about a month ago. At this point, they are completely integrated with the others, as far as I can tell. I posted a message here about my problems, but after about 3-4 days, things had settled down quite a bit, although they were still getting chased away from the food occasionally. I added an extra feeder which made it more difficult for the rest to "patrol" the feed, but I ended up taking it out a few days later, since it was no longer needed. In my experience, it only took 1-2 weeks before they were fairly well integrated, and after the first week, most of the problems were gone.
  5. Echobabe

    Echobabe Songster

    Oct 30, 2007
    OK--thanks so much! I really needed the moral support.

    I also saw some earlier posts (probably when you added the ISA brown, Uncle Hoot), that advised adding another feeder, waterer, and putting things into the run/house that the newbies can hide behind. I think all of these tricks have decreased the stress considerably today.

    Its so weird to see my sweet hens all of a sudden acting like "enforcers"!!
  6. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    My big girls were merciless to the three young'ons that I added. I put alot of obstacles around, and three different bowls of feed around, and it seems to work.
    What's really funny is that when they roost, the newbies go and roost with the big girls, and would rather roost up there with them even tho they get a few pecks.
  7. Xtradust

    Xtradust Songster

    Nov 19, 2007
    Orange, CA
    I tried to throw one in at night after reading that you, "don't feed any of them the day before and then slip the newbie in a night. Feed them all in the morning and they'll be too hungry to fight."

    Yeah right. It was carnage. I think they wanted chicken for breakfast!

    Recently, I added a newbie to the flock and separated her in a little dog kennel crate I got at Harbor Freight for $22.99. (link below) I put a little food, water and a roost in it too.

    The darn chickens ran up to the newbies cage and almost seemed to say, "Why are you keeping us from our new friend?"

    They all hung out next to each other with the cage between them for so long (4 hrs) that I let the new chicken free-range with the others. She was able to get away from everyone when she needed to.

    The next night, she went into the coop to roost with the others. But, the chicken at the top of the Pecking Order was still pecking at her a bit, so I pulled the Alpha hen and put her on my lap in front on the computer, until about 10pm, when the newbie and the rest of the flock were in DEEP sleep and then I put the Alpha hen back.

    That was 5 days ago and now the newbie is definitely on the "B" team, but sometimes I see her snuggled up to the Alpha hen.

    I read a post here once that said, "As long as there's no blood, it will get better."

    I try to think of that when they start mixing it up.

  8. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    I really can't echo enough the advise given by silkiechicken. When introducing new birds into your flock they should be quarrantined as far away as possible for at least 30 days as a preventative measure. The old and the new each have their own unique flora and fauna and immune systems. You never know what will happen. Some people here have had sickness spread throughout their birds and they have lost many of their flock.

    After 30 days the new birds can then be placed inside the coop but in a separate pen until the old birds get used to them being there. Perhaps a dog crate or just a box with chicken wire so that they can see one another. After a week or two they can then be turned out into the the flock and often the integration is much easier as they are not completely unknowns.

    I wish you well with your flock.

    Edited to add - Chickens are hearty for the most part. They know when too cold is too cold for themselves. I advise opening the coop ever day (unless in a blizzard or ice storm). They acclimatize and tend to be healthier and heartier than birds who are coddled along because we think it is too cold for them.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2008

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