HELP! I don't know what else to do with new chicks/hens

dobee13

Chirping
7 Years
May 31, 2013
12
0
75
Bay Area
My Coop
My Coop
Hi all. I've tried EVERYTHING and I'm hoping to get some feedback or suggestions here. I have spent almost 5 weeks trying to establish them together and nothing works. Original flock is 2 years old. The new chicks were purchased March 26, 2020.
I have never had issues introducing new chicks to a flock. Well, this round has been exhausting and incredibly stressful. Here is what I have done:
1) put new chicks in run/coop alongside the established flock for three weeks.
2) placed new chicks into coop with older flock overnight
3) have had to separate my coop/run for new flock and old flock for two weeks now
4) separated the chick being picked on from all of them
5) separated the bossy hen from all of them
6) given new gals a place to hide, etc
7) introduced new toys, treats and all sorts of items to distract

Nothing is working. The bossy hen has absolutely tortured 1 of the new chicks and now down-right frightened the other 3 chicks. The smaller new chick has had her head nearly pecked off, her eye damaged (which I have since fixed) and a wing injured. I'm up at 5 am to remove them from coop and separate them...I'm running two different feeders, two different waters, and hand placing them in the coop at night now.

Do I:
1) get rid of the boss hen
2) get rid of the chick who is picked on
3) get rid of the original flock
4) get rid of the new chicks as a group?
5) and just letting them hash it out is not an option as I have a daughter who is really emotionally invested right now.

Thank you!!!
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 12, 2009
8,900
11,174
636
western South Dakota
I think if you show pictures of your coop/run, measurements and number of old birds, and number of chicks.

You certainly have tried several of the tricks that come to mind. Have you tried a one way opening? I have had success with lifting the bottom of the separation fence just high enough that the chicks can scoot under neath it easily along the whole edge, and older birds can't get through it. The chicks try being out with the big girls on their own terms.

Another idea, is to flip their spots. Put the old birds where the new chicks are, and let the chicks be in the big girls spots. This lets the chicks explore the area without being chased for their lives. Gradually add a single old hen to the chicks, then another, leaving the bully for last.

Mrs K
 

CannedMonster

Free Ranging
Nov 26, 2017
2,275
4,808
577
Southwest Idaho
That is crazy violent! I would never keep any hen that damaged other birds like that. That is not just bullying behavior but extreme behavior. Is it just one hen hurting them? I would rehome or cull her.
 

Sueby

Free Ranging
Apr 23, 2019
1,464
10,062
526
CT
I feel your pain, I've been dealing with all of that too. We decided today to cull the mean girl as everyone else gets along fine when she's not there (I can't re-home her, she's a carrier of a respiratory infection).

As a last resort I tried pinless peepers & she was mostly ok with the others when wearing them. Once they came off though she was back to her nastiness instantly. I'm not really a fan of them so for me it wasn't a long term thing, but it might be worth a shot for you. Some people use them & have success.

Good luck, it seems like you've tried every trick out there, I think sometimes chickens are just jerks & you have to do whats best for the majority (including you). If it's just the 1 hen instigating it all maybe you can re-home her. Was there peace in the flock when she was separated out?
 

Guernsy

Songster
Jun 5, 2020
118
214
116
It seems like I am having the same problem right now. I have seven chickens, that are about 7 almost 8 weeks old. They are doing fine and are getting along. I also have 3 other chicks that are 5 weeks old and I have tried to introduce them to the flock. First I put them in a separate little run in the yard (the girls are all free-roaming all day) for a few days. Then I put them in their enclosed run during the day, where usually everyone goes around 5-7pm (I took them out at that time). The next day I tried to let them spend the day together and they got beat up by one hen. Funny enough, this is our gentlest hen. She is the one that likes to cuddle and be held. Never expected that. We have one hen that is a little bit more adventurous and seems more aggressive when it comes to food and she could have cared less about the newcomers.
Now what? I am actually afraid to put them in the coop overnight. They go in there around 7 to 8 and it always seems a bit of a struggle in there before it turns quiet (we can hear them shuffling for a while). I am afraid they would attack the young ones or hurt them. Any pointers? Thanks
 

acrididae

In the Brooder
Jun 8, 2020
14
31
41
I've read (can't remember where) that it might be helpful to place the crabby hen in a dog crate in a totally separate space for a week or so--out of sight from the others. This causes her to lose her place in the pecking order, and apparently changes her attitude.
 

coloradowildflower

Crowing
12 Years
Jul 12, 2008
319
198
261
Utah
I second the pinless peepers idea. It may need to be long-term if she needs it. I've had some that were just too mean without them, but they were fine once they had them on. Otherwise, I'd get rid of the bully.
 

CannedMonster

Free Ranging
Nov 26, 2017
2,275
4,808
577
Southwest Idaho
It seems like I am having the same problem right now. I have seven chickens, that are about 7 almost 8 weeks old. They are doing fine and are getting along. I also have 3 other chicks that are 5 weeks old and I have tried to introduce them to the flock. First I put them in a separate little run in the yard (the girls are all free-roaming all day) for a few days. Then I put them in their enclosed run during the day, where usually everyone goes around 5-7pm (I took them out at that time). The next day I tried to let them spend the day together and they got beat up by one hen. Funny enough, this is our gentlest hen. She is the one that likes to cuddle and be held. Never expected that. We have one hen that is a little bit more adventurous and seems more aggressive when it comes to food and she could have cared less about the newcomers.
Now what? I am actually afraid to put them in the coop overnight. They go in there around 7 to 8 and it always seems a bit of a struggle in there before it turns quiet (we can hear them shuffling for a while). I am afraid they would attack the young ones or hurt them. Any pointers? Thanks
So all your birds are chicks? One group is older by a few weeks than the other?
The dominant one doesn’t care because she’s secure in her place in the pecking order.
The one doing the bullying is probably the lowest in the pecking order. Because she doesn’t want to lose her place and become even lower than these new ones.
She is trying to keep the new ones below her which is natural. Sometimes it’s hard for us as humans to watch pecking and chasing because it looks mean to us. As long as they’re not drawing blood and pinning the younger ones down you have to let them integrate by spending time together.
Several things that will help: having multiple food and water stations in different areas. Having clutter in the area such as roosts and different things to hide behind where the younger ones can get out of the line of sight (but not trapped by) of the older ones.
Do you have enough space for them all? Inadequate space can lead to stress and bullying.
 

Guernsy

Songster
Jun 5, 2020
118
214
116
So all your birds are chicks? One group is older by a few weeks than the other?
The dominant one doesn’t care because she’s secure in her place in the pecking order.
The one doing the bullying is probably the lowest in the pecking order. Because she doesn’t want to lose her place and become even lower than these new ones.
She is trying to keep the new ones below her which is natural. Sometimes it’s hard for us as humans to watch pecking and chasing because it looks mean to us. As long as they’re not drawing blood and pinning the younger ones down you have to let them integrate by spending time together.
Several things that will help: having multiple food and water stations in different areas. Having clutter in the area such as roosts and different things to hide behind where the younger ones can get out of the line of sight (but not trapped by) of the older ones.
Do you have enough space for them all? Inadequate space can lead to stress and bullying.
Ah, that makes total sense. I think they have plenty of space and lots of different food and water sources. However, I do feel scared and feel for the young ones because they huddle together and piep loud when the bigger hen comes close to them. They do look scared. One of the younger chicks had a little bit of a scratch on her nose yesterday, so that discouraged me a bit. The bigger hen is not really pinning them down, she is just kind of pecking at them. The other hens don't really care.
Thank you for your input. I will watch this for a few more days and see how it goes. If this hen does not change her behavior, I will try the dog crate.
 

MANNA-PRO

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