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Integrating 10week with 7months, how much pecking is too much

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by pixie74943, Sep 15, 2009.

  1. pixie74943

    pixie74943 Songster

    May 25, 2009
    Adelaide, Australia
    Right now my 10(osh)week ISA brown has her own little pen, and my 7month Australorp and White Leghorn have their own big pen. They get to run around the backyard almost every night, and the last couple of days I've been letting them out together.

    The Leghorn ignores my baby, but the Australorp rushes over to peck her if she gets too close (3 or 4 metres is apparently 'too close'). I've been letting her have a peck or 2, and the ISA brown runs away, but any more than that and I've been stepping in to protect my baby.

    Am I being overprotective, or underprotective or just enough??

  2. briteday

    briteday Songster

    Dec 16, 2008
    Northern NV
    I do the same when integrating new birds. Generally I take a good book and a lawn chair out to the run. Any girl who chooses to give more than a warning peck or two to a newbie gets a shot of water from the hose. Even with a large number of birds (I just added 25 pullets to a small flock of hens) it only took 3 evenings to get most of them in line.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Different things seem to work for different people, but I think a lot of it is dependent upon the personalities of the individual chickens. Chickens are social animals that are able to get along together due to the pecking order. That tells them who gets to eat first, get the best roosting spot, or get any other perk without a lot of squabbling. Packs of wolves and herds of cattle are much the same way. They have to learn their place in the scheme of things. The pecking order is critical to the survival of a wild flock, herd, or pack and can get pretty complicated. Your chickens are not wild but the instincts are still there.

    My set-up is different from yours and I'm sure my goals are different. I generally let them fight it out as long as no blood is drawn. I'm not sure that is your preferred solution. There are tricks you can use to ease the integration process.

    House them side by side for a week or so where they can see each other but not physically get to each other. Throw food down where they eat side by side but are separated by the wire.

    When you integrate them, make it on the weaker chicken's home turf. That seems to confuse the aggressors and they spend energy exploring their new surroundings that they might use to defend their home turf.

    Have separate feeders and waterers for a few days. Chickens can be possessive about their feeders and waterers.

    Some people recommend putting them in the same coop at night so they wake up together. I don't know if this helps or not. They still have to establish a pecking order. Sometimes it seems to go smoothly and sometimes there are disasters. I think that sometimes the pecking order is worked out before the humans know anything about it, so it seems to work. But it is possible it helps. I really don't know.

    Giving them lots of room like you are doing is helpful. It gives the weaker a chance to get away or hide. As you have noticed, there is a personal boundary that the Austalorp will enforce.

    And do as you are doing. Let them work on the pecking order without letting it get too serious. Let them do a little pecking but then break it up before it escalates, whether that is with a water hose, a broom, or just walking over and crowding them. Whatever works for you.

    This is a long way of saying, I think you are doing fine.

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