Help! Flock Integration

smartgirlchic

In the Brooder
May 18, 2015
31
1
41
Hello!

On the 18th, I purchased two Orpington pullets. The breeder only had two available, though I really wanted to have at least four. On the 23rd (5 days later) we were able to obtain two more Orpington pullets.

They are all approximately the same age: the two from the 18th appear to be about one week older, with one perhaps as much as two weeks older. (I can't exactly tell their ages, but have an approximation from the breeder. One is noticeably bigger than the others.)

Here's what I've done so far:

First I brought the two new chickens into the coop in a kennel so they could all see each other and talk. Everything seemed very non-agressive.
After a bit of time I let the two out of the kennel and they all ate at the feeder as if they'd known each other for years!
After about 20 minutes, there was a little squabbling. Nothing major. I refereed the entire time. I stayed in the coop with all of them for about an hour and a half.
Once night came, they all jockeyed for position in a sleeping pile. (Each wanted to be on the bottom of the pile.)
Today I visited with them in the morning before heading out to care for other matters.
When I returned home everyone looked fine. I decided to spend some time with them in the coop again. (I was in the coop for about an hour and a half again.) Goodness, today WAS NOT relaxing with them. Lots more squabbling. (Lots of pecking. No blood drawing, just pecking and chasing.) I did my usual clean up of the coop, took turns holding each one, and fed them all some treats.

Here's the thing- I am worried about all the pecking. I get that they need to establish an order, but this is the first time I've had chickens and I don't know how much pecking is normal? When should I be concerned? I just want them to be at peace with one another. :(


(Other info: they have a reasonably large coop, nesting boxes, a cardboard box, roost, large feeder, two water sources, and plenty of hay. After I know they know this is their home we will start free ranging them in our fenced yard.)

Thanks for any suggestions!
 
Last edited:

roseyred

Songster
5 Years
Jun 5, 2014
690
84
146
There just figuring out the pecking order. I have two head hens who are a year old, raised from hatch together and thy still get in fights with eachother lol. I'd focus on who is the aggressor. Which one picks on everyone else and dosnt get picked on. Keep an eye on that one and if it gets too aggressive put it in chicken jail! NEVER seperate the victim because that only causes more problems. Get a small cage for the aggressor to live in for a week or two. Placed in the run/coop so she can see everyone but can't interact. She'll go down the totem pole once released and not be as aggressive. It is veryyyyyy important to never seperate a victim. Unless there's a serious injury and it needs treating. And if it does expect that one to not be easily reintroduced. I Am sure they will sort it out thoo.
 

roseyred

Songster
5 Years
Jun 5, 2014
690
84
146
You can make a couple feed dishes in the run to allow the victims to get away from the more aggressive ones. Most chickens will find a partner lol as far as I've seen. So two weaker ones will be "friends" and so on
 

Teila

Bambrook Bantams
6 Years
Apr 15, 2013
16,612
26,047
1,026
Forrest Beach, FNQ, Australia
Howdy smartgirlchic and Welcome to BYC

It sounds like it is actually going pretty well.

I would be concerned if one of them is constantly being picked on by the others. If it is a general pecking here and there at each other and not one girl in particular, then it should be fine and they are just establishing the pecking order as you mention.

I would also be concerned if there is any jumping on backs and pulling on combs as this could cause severe injury.

If someone does get pecked enough to draw blood, get them out of there pretty quickly because the others will definitely peck at any wounds.

I have two original girls, another girl who was added to the flock about 12 months ago and adults that have been here since hatching. There has never been any damage done and no blood drawn but lots of bickering; moreso at bed time.
 

yudash2000

In the Brooder
Feb 16, 2015
15
1
26
With pecking order, once they settle in and start laying eggs they seem to accept their "place" in the order. Whenever I have a treat for the flock, the bottom girl just hangs out away from the frenzy which is no big deal because I toss a chunk of banana or sliced grapes to her direction when the others aren't looking. It's only a flock of 4, but once they started laying, they seem settled in their place. As long as they are all healthy, they'll be fine and happy...especially when you give them all that attention :)
 

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