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Help! Bringing new pullets into an existing small flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jeajea, Jul 22, 2016.

  1. jeajea

    jeajea New Egg

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    So, we have one (10 wk) cockerel and 4 (10 wk old) pullets, that we inherited from my son's kindergarten class as week old hatch-lings.

    They live in their coop and stay in their run. Because we have a cockerel, I thought it would be good to add more pullets while everyone is still young and make the ratios better for him.

    So, on Monday, we added 6 pullets (18 wks old.) We built a playpen area inside the coop so they could all live together without touching. and they just all stared at each other every day. Today it was so hot that we thought we would try to open the door of the playpen and see what happened. 2 of the 6 new hens ventured out and tried to be brave, but that cockerel just just chasing them, bullying them, and being really nasty. Twice, he went into the playpen area and made all 6 new hens huddle in a corner in fear.

    What should we do? Is there a better way to introduce everyone? We just locked the 6 back into their playpen so they can get some stressfree sleep and were thinking of trying again tomorrow. But any suggestions on the right way to do this?

    The 5 we had were black and brown sex link type chickens, and the 6 new ones are barred rock.

    Please educate this newbie chicken wrangler! I'm clearly doing it wrong!
     
  2. Chickensfan

    Chickensfan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    hmm. he may just be aggressive. can he see through the playpen? try letting them out, and then every time he attacks, point a finger at him and sternly say "no." and do it loudly. a couple seconds after, squirt him in the eye with ACV and water mixed together. (in the bottle there should be half ACV and half water.) also try carrying him around a lot. see what happens. also, watch the fights. if the hens back down, then he is only fighting because he needs to establish a new pecking order, or because his mating instincts are telling him to mate with them. when a rooster wants to mate, he will often peck. there is usually a bald spot on the rooster's favorite. if it is the pecking order, then it will end soon, and you have to let it be. often the winner of the pecking order fights will chase the loser around a bit. that is totally normal. but if the rooster keeps attacking even after the hens back down, he doesn't like them. separate him before he does any damage. then i suggest asking here on BYC for further info. (when i say separate i mean put him somewhere he can't hurt them. don't give him or sell him away yet.)
    and welcome to BYC!
    ~Marie
     
  3. jeajea

    jeajea New Egg

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    Thanks for the advice. A couple of weeks ago I went into their coop to feed them and while I was kneeling down to pick up their water, he flew at my face and bit my nose (I had a mark for a week.) So, I have been a bit reluctant to touch him since and he hasn't been carried much, I will try that and hopefully he doesn't rip my face off.

    There are two black ones like him, two brown ones (from his original brooder box) and now the new barred rocks. He actually seems to favor the two black ones that look like him. Those are the two that sleep next to him at night, and the ones he's lets them eat near him. The brown ones are just chased away and now he seems like he may not like the barred rock. I'm not saying he is a chicken who only likes chickens that just look like him...but it's not looking good.

    thanks again .
     
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    He's showing them their place in the pecking order. Chicken society isn't pretty. As long as there is no blood being drawn, let them work it out. (As Mrs. K says, "Chickens know a lot more about being chickens than we do.") Make sure you have plenty of feeding and watering stations, and put up some hiding places - lean some plywood against the run fence, put some plywood or a pallet on cement blocks. Anything to get them out of his line of vision. If they can get out of the coop and run and free range together, all the better. It gives them more space to get away from him. How much space do they have (as in coop feet x feet, and run, feet x feet)? Over crowding can cause you all sorts of headaches.

    I am concerned, though, about him flying at your face. Think about this - how tall is your is your son? What happens when the cockerel flies at him? He's going to be right at eye level. You might want to think about whether it's worth it to even have him around. I would not suggest picking him up, or trying to make a pet out of him. It's not guaranteed that it will turn him into a monster, but there are an awful lot of threads on here that start out with, "My sweet rooster has started attacking me..." and when you read on, you read that he was raised from a chick, was the sweetest, most outgoing, curious, friendliest, and became a "pet". I prefer to have my roosters move away from me. I walk toward them and keep walking until they move. I do not pet them or interact with them in any way. I will also not keep a mean one around. Even if you get him to quit attacking you because you have dominated him by carrying him around, that does not mean he won't attack someone else (your son or visiting friends, for example).
     
  5. Chickensfan

    Chickensfan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    x2
     
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  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    What Bobbi J said. A human aggressive rooster should not be tolerated. As far as his treatment of the new birds, this is what I'd do: Let the new birds out, and put him in their enclosure. Give all the girls plenty of treats to work on in both their run and their coop. If you can't train that roo by giving him some serious schooling, then it's time to get rid of him. Take a slender stick with you, and make him stay stick length away, chase him around a bit every day till he takes one look at you and heads in the other direction. If he so much as gives you a dirty look, give him chase. Don't let him eat till you say he can. Herd him away from the girls when you give them treats. If a week or so of this does not reform him, it's time to invite him to dinner.
     
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  7. jeajea

    jeajea New Egg

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    Our coop is 8x8 and the run is 16x8 and there are 10 hens and one rooster. Do you think that's too small? Here is the pic attached, my husband used someones design that posted them in here once.

    I have 3 inside/outside cats in the yard that literally stalk around the run and a dog that loves to chase, so I am concerned to let them just walk freely around the yard. My dog is still in training and anything that runs is the best game ever to her. Until she learns to stop that, she has trampled the cats on multiple occassions from not running after them so fast that she was unable to stop.

    Plus, we frequently see foxes here. I see then mid-morning, and in the afternoon. [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    I've attached a pic of the rooster and original chickens that we got and the new barred rock chickens in their playpen area. Thanks for the feedback. And thanks LazyGardner, I am going to follow your instructions and see if that humbles him a bit.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2016
  8. Chickensfan

    Chickensfan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    if you act like another rooster around him, it will make things worse actually. if you chase him, he will constantly attack you, thinking you are another rooster. but i agree on the first part, a human aggressive rooster should NOT be tolerated. if he tries to attack, i would suggest gently backing away. also, don't make quick/threatening movements around him and don't carry large things around him.try feeding him out of your hands.
    ~Marie
     
  9. sharon1955

    sharon1955 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have had good luck waiting until it was well after dark and the chickens have been on the roost for a while and putting the new chickens on the roosts with the others. Then in the morning they don't seem so agressive towards them. Just a suggestion, not guaranteed to work.[​IMG]
     
  10. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Very good advice. He needs to know that you are the boss.
    Gently backing away if a rooster comes toward you makes him think he is the boss. We do not want him to think he is the boss. He may go after OP if she tried LG's suggestions. That would say to me that he should not be kept. If the rooster can't figure out that OP is not another rooster, but the human that brings food, I'd move him along. Some roosters just don't reform. I'd definitely think twice about keeping any bird that goes after my face when I'm working in the coop. I wouldn't think on it very long.

    OP, you have been given some very different suggestions, but that's the beauty of the forum. It may be confusing to have differing views, but it gives you something to work with. If one approach doesn't work, try another if you're determined to keep this bird. Keep trying until you find something that works, or you've exhausted all your resources and determine that nothing is going to help.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2016
    1 person likes this.

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