HELP adding a new one to a flock of 9!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by lablover, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. lablover

    lablover Songster

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    So I have 9 chicks (pullets and cockerels) that are about 7-8 weeks old. They have been free ranging in the backyard on their own for about 2 weeks now.

    I wanted another pullet and ended up with an EE that's probably around 5 weeks old. I put her in the coop and locked the others out. Right away, everyone came to look at her. When they moved on to more interesting things, I heard the first crow from one of the cockerels. I decided to put the youngest (and smallest) 2 (which are the best of friends)pullets in with the new one, but one started pecking her off of the food. So I took the mean one out and just left one in there with the new EE. She just stands around and investigates a little while the other pullet paces back and forth trying to get back to her best friend.

    I'm afraid to have them all together tonight locked up in coop. What do I do? One of the other pullets is very independent and does her own thing all day. Would she be better with the new one?
     
  2. bloom_ss

    bloom_ss Songster

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    First, quarantine for 30 days. Second, you have to introduce slowly over a few weeks at the least. Make a place for the new one to be in where the others can see but not touch her. Last, once they have been like that for a while and are pretty much ignoring each other you can let them out to free range together. If you don't do it slowly, your new pullet WILL be pecked to death. Don't ever just throw them all together...they will most likely kill the little one if you don't separate them. I am in the process of integrating two 6 week olds in with my five 10 week olds. This is the best way I have found to handle the situation. =)
     
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Free Ranging

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    well, it is to late to quarantine. If you have exposed one of your hens. I would not worry about it too much. Few backyard set ups have the space and facilities to quarantine correctly, and if you don't correctly, you may as well not do it. And it is really the least of your problems.

    However, the size thing is major, and so is the just one bird thing. Next time, or this time if you still can, when you are trying to introduce birds to a flock, go with several birds to introduce. This spreads the attention of the original flock. By just adding only one bird, everyone in the old flock knows who the newby is, and ALL will pick on her. That much attention, and pecking can easily kill a bird. However, if you introduce several new birds, well, if wears out the old flock. And the more the better. The new birds have friends too. There will still be squabbling, and barriers, and obstacles in the run help.

    Size is a big big issue. A small chick is no defense against a full grown hen. Unless a chick is being raised by its' broody mother, all other hens will attack and try and kill and eat it. It takes nearly 4 months for a bird to get full sized, and I would not introduce a new bird, especially all by herself to a flock until they were darn close to the same size.

    MrsK
     
  4. lablover

    lablover Songster

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    Yeah, it's a little late to quarantine. The new one has been in the coop/run with with one of the smaller pullets for about 4 hours. The new one eats just as much as she wants, and the older one lets her be. They stay away from each other, and go about their own business, but I think I saw them eating together.

    I have a brooder/hutch that I can put the new one in at night. I could put it right beside the coop so that she would be level with the others at night and could sleep beside them with 2 fences of chicken wire between them. If I did that, should I put the pullet that she has been with all day in there as well?

    I'm so worried about the cockerels attacking her.

    I need to get pics so I can show the size difference.
     
  5. bloom_ss

    bloom_ss Songster

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    Just because the one she is with right now is ignoring her doesn't mean it will continue to ignore when they are cooped up together at night. Chances are the older one will not let the younger one sleep with it anyway. I would keep them separated when you are not there to intervene.
     
  6. lablover

    lablover Songster

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    The new one is the EE on the left. The other is the pullet she has been with.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Free Ranging

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    Not a huge size difference. So that is helpful. I think if you can, I would keep the pair separated for a while, as in a week or two. One on one, it won't be so bad.

    When you add chickens into a flock, the whole dynamics is changed, and it is quite unsettled for a while. There really is no changing that, and your egg production might drop.

    Now when you add this pair back into the flock, and do not get in a hurry to do so, I would watch carefully, and pull out the meanest hen or hens that you have, (every flock will have a top, more aggressive hen, and sometimes her buddy) Separating them from the flock for about a week. Then add them back.

    This is going to upset your flock dynamics for 3-4 weeks. First when you pull the smaller pair- not a real big upset. Second when you pull the mean ones, and add the pair. And then when you add the aggressive hens back into the group.

    mrsK
     
  8. lablover

    lablover Songster

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    Thanks MrsK!

    I've gotten rid of 4 cockerels, so I now just have 5 left of the original flock. 4 are free ranging together while the pair that is shown above has been living together since they were first introduced. They've been in the brooder/hutch that is level with the roost in the coop so that they're practically all sleeping together. I even saw the young cockerel that I kept roosting close to the brooder/hutch, and looking in at the new girl.

    I have to lock the flock out of the coop sometimes so that the pair in the hutch can be turned loose in the run to have room to stretch a bit. Interestingly though, the rest of the original flock have been hanging around in the coop more, which is unusual.
     
  9. lablover

    lablover Songster

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    Here's a small update.

    Today I had the pair (sex link from original flock and the new EE) in the coop while the others free ranged. Later on I added my other sex link that pecked the new girl off the feed the first day. Today she stared at her, while the new girl slowly approached and touched her beak before putting her head down in submission. They were fine after that, and I took the sex link out as I would not be there to watch them. Later on, I put the cockerel in with the pair. He got pretty excited about the pretty new girl that he would get to add to his flock, and couldn't stop looking at her. When she turned her head, he moved to look her in the face, even ducking down to her level. Then he laid down and started preening his feathers, and there were no problems. They're far from being trusted together without being watched, and there's still the 2 top hens to introduce her to.
     

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