Help!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Cplatt00, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. Cplatt00

    Cplatt00 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have 4 barred Plymouth rocks that are 5 months old. I got two ameracuanas and a rir yesterday. The barred rocks are chasing, pecking, and squaking at the new chickens. Will they stop fighting? How long will it take if they do? By the way they are all hens no roosters!
     
  2. GuppyTJ

    GuppyTJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How old are the new hens? Are they close in age to the original flock or a lot younger? If they're not drawing blood and the new chickens have lots of room to run and get away from the existing chickens, you *might* be OK to let them work it out.

    However, depending on how you think they're doing, you may want to to do the following. Many recommend integrating them slowly, by placing them side by side so they can see each other but through a fence. This allows them to get to know each other without being able to get at each other. I believe the recommendation is to leave this barrier in place for a least a week. Then, when you let them interact and be together, make sure the new ones have as much room as you can give them so they can get away from the established flock members. Also, have things they can jump/fly up on top of to get away from the others.

    I've only done one integration myself and I did it the slow way. In my case, I had a set of 10 existing pullets (2) and cockerals (8) who were 10 weeks old. I introduced a group of 6 pullets that were 8 weeks old. I kept them separated with a fence but in the same coop for a week. When I let them free range all together and share the whole coop as one flock, the integration went smoothly. They existed pretty much as 2 separate flocks for 2 1/2 months. In that 2 1/2 months, a lot happened and changed. I created a bachelor pad and pulled out all my cockerals, prepared the extra cockerals for the dinner table, then re-introduced the keeper cockerals to the pullets. So, a lot happened in that 2 1/2 months to change the make up of the flock. And they all matured a ton in that time. The head cockeral is now mating with the pullets, for example and he's learning to be a good rooster and flock master to the flock.

    But the point is, it can sometimes take awhile for them to all get along and behave as one flock. Giving them time and safety to do it in may help in the long run.

    Hope this helps,
    Guppy
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2013
  3. Cplatt00

    Cplatt00 Out Of The Brooder

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    They are all 5 months old so they are all the same size.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Them being the same age makes it easier, believe it or not. Many of us successfully integrate different aged chickens a lot so what you are trying to do is certainly possible. That behavior at first is not that unusual either though it’s not always that bad. Sometimes it goes so smoothly you don’t notice anything and sometimes it gets violent. Usually it’s somewhere in between, some pecking and minor skirmishing. They are living animals and unpredictable.

    It sounds like you’ve got two different things going on. First is what I call basic integration. Chickens can recognize who belongs in their flock and who doesn’t. Sometimes it’s not an issue but sometimes one or more will attack strange chickens invading their territory. Often it’s one or two hens that initiate the attack. The others may or may not join in. That’s where Guppy’s idea of housing them side by side for a week or so can help. It doesn’t always work but normally they come to recognize the other’s right to exist.

    The other thing is the pecking order. Just like a herd of cattle or a pack of wolves, each chicken in a flock has to know its place in the social hierarchy so they know how to act when they meet. That’s called the pecking order for a reason. Once it gets worked out, the flock generally operates really smoothly, but working it out can sometimes get kind of violent. Your original five had the pecking order worked out but by adding new chickens you’ve messed that up. Now they have to work it out again. Don’t be totally shocked to see some skirmishing between your original flock members. With the pecking order being readjusted some may try to climb a little higher than they were before. They can be crafty like that.

    What often happens when two chickens meet that don’t know how they rank, one tries to intimidate the other, generally by a peck but maybe something more serious. If one runs away, they are well on the way to sorting it out. There may be some chasing involved, and sometimes one goes out of its way to intimidate the other to reinforce that ranking, but usually it works out.

    If one does not run away, it can get serious. That is a direct challenge and can lead to a fight. They will flare their neck feathers and jump at each other, trying to peck and claw. Even here it usually takes very little time for one to realize they are better off running away, so these normally end pretty quickly. But if they are evenly matched they may fight a while. The big danger comes in if one cannot run away and get away, even with some chasing. That’s why room is really important when you are integrating. If one gets caught in a corner or against a fence where it can’t run away, it may just hunker down and quit, but the other keeps attacking. That’s not good. Most of the time they work all this out, but occasionally you do hear a real horror story. But if you read through this forum with the thousands of people going through this process, you really don’t read that many stories of where chickens were actually killed. It really does work out most of the time, especially if they have room to run or just avoid the bullies to start with.

    How long will it last? I wish I knew. Each chicken has its own personality and each flock has its own dynamics. We all have unique circumstances in how we house and manage them. I’ve never been through exactly what you are going through. I raise pullets with the flock. Mine normally integrate with the adults when they start laying. Until then, they form a separate flock.

    I suspect yours will work out an accommodation in a few days at most where they get along but maybe form two separate flocks so they can avoid each other during the day. It might really help if you could house them side by side for a few days to help calm them down before they mix. Eventually they will form one happy flock but even then don’t be surprised if they form a sub-flock during the day part of the time. Each flock is different. They don’t all act the same.

    I know this is long and rambling. Hopefully you can get something out of it that helps. Good luck!
     
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  5. Cplatt00

    Cplatt00 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you to those who replied! The new hens have become best friends with older ones. After a few days of one hen chasing another the new guys accepted there place in the pecking order and they all eat, drink, and roost together. Everything worked out well without any violence
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. whittychick

    whittychick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I will be going through this in about a month! I'm so afraid of the older girls and rooster not excepting my new babies! I have had them outside next to each other over a month now so I hope that helps!!! Any tips you can give me?!!
     
  7. whittychick

    whittychick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Great info thanks!!!
     

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