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Indroducing Two New Hens to the Flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by BunnyLover44, Feb 12, 2015.

  1. BunnyLover44

    BunnyLover44 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yesterday I received two new adult Rhode Island Red hens, and am trying to get my flock of three to accept them. But instead of welcoming them they are fighting and I have to keep them separated. I know that they have to create a new pecking order but I don't want my newer chickens or my flock getting injured. Any suggestions to make their transition fast and painless?? Also how long will I have to keep them separated?

    BunnyLover44
     
  2. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    Hi and welcome to BYC from northern Michigan [​IMG]

    First, new birds should be strictly isolated from your current birds, to help identify sick birds that may infect your flock. After that integrate them by keeping them next to each other but separated by a fence for a few days until they all get accustomed to the newcomers. Expect some fighting when you do combine them. Many people recommend adding the new birds at night.
     
  3. BunnyLover44

    BunnyLover44 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How can I tell if a chicken is sick?
    How long do I allow them to fight until they get the pecking order under control?

    BunnyLover44
     
  4. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    Sorry you are having issues with your new birds. No, do not let them fight this out. Somebody will get injured badly or even turn up dead. You will need to keep the new birds separated for 3 to 4 weeks not only for quarantine and disease issues, but to allow the original flock to get to know these new birds. So keep your new hens in a cage or enclosure in your coop and run for 3 to 4 weeks. Everybody sees, no body touches. I have found one of those peck and play enclosures works well in the run and a large wire dog crate in the coop for sleeping with a roost bar, works well for sleeping at night.

    Leave them this way and in a month you will know if anybody is sick and if not, the mixing will go much easier without all the aggression. There will still be some jostling but there shouldn't be any brawling. Of course if there is, always intervene if it turns bad.

    Also, add more feed and watering stations after you do mix everybody together so that the original flock doesn't starve the new ones out, which they can do. Give everybody as much space as possible and keep to the 5 square foot per bird rule in the coop and 10 square feet per bird in the run or more.

    As for telling whether or not a bird is sick...look for runny noses, watery or swollen eyes, rattling as she breathes, pale comb, lots of diarrhea, lethargy, blood in the poop, isn't eating or drinking, straining as if to lay an egg, mites or bugs, lots of broken feathers and red skin, etc...

    Good luck with your new birds! Give them time to adjust to the new flock. Never throw in new birds to a flock as there is a pecking order that has to be adhered to at all times and chaos, blood and even death can occur without a long introduction of the new birds. :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2015
  5. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    OK first of all, since you've already put them in with your flock, it's too late to quarantine. Many people think that just keeping them separated is quarantine. It's not. True quarantine is keeping them in separate locations far enough apart that even airborne diseases aren't going to transfer from flock to flock. I've read anywhere from 100' to 300'. It doesn't end there. You also need to change your shoes (and clothes, possibly) when going from one flock to the other. Also, keep feeders and waterers separate. If you haven't done any of this before mixing your flock, or aren't set up to do so, I personally wouldn't bother now. However, if you feel you want to do this, it's up to you.

    If there is no blood being drawn, and neither of the chickens is being pinned down and completely victimized, I'd let them work it out. Chickens don't like change and I have never seen them "welcome" newcomers. They don't like them. Every single time you separate them and put them back together, they will start the whole pecking order thing all over again. They also go through it when you take birds out of the flock, because that also shakes up the pecking order. Just keeping them separate for 3 to 4 weeks does not keep this from happening. It may not be quite as intense, but when they are physically in the same place, they need to sort things out and find their place in the flock. Personally, I have never had a bird seriously injured or killed while they were establishing the pecking order. Maybe others have, not saying it can't happen. It's just not been my experience. It can take days or weeks for them to figure things out. There is no set time period as they are living animals with their own personalities. Hiding places in your coop and run will help. Lean some plywood against the fence, making sure a chicken can't get trapped in a corner there, a pallet on cinder blocks, that type of thing.
     
  6. Akrnaf2

    Akrnaf2 The educated Rhino Premium Member

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    The quarantine is obligatory! You can't intrudes a new chicken or a new egg directly to your flock! Almost all the disease have incubating period That can be long as month! The role is 40:40 at leas 40 days and at least 40 feat of distant between the new comers and and your flock! You can introduce a lot of terrible disease, like Marec's disease , to your flock. It's a big No No!
     
  7. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    I tend to agree with Bobbi, quarantined birds need to be kept completely separate, as some illnesses are airborne; keep them ideally in a separate building. Since your birds have already been exposed if the newcomers are carrying anything, you probably can do the separate-but-near exposure prior to actually adding them to the flock. You may consider separating them at least until you can check their stools for a few days, if they have loose or runny stools a fecal exam should be done for parasites.

    Sometimes you will have one bird that is a terrible bully to the newcomers. If so take the bully out for a few days and place her in a separate cage away from the flock, allowing the newcomers to integrate, then return the bully - usually that prevents further bloodshed.
     

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