Integrating/Introducing Serama Hens--HEEEEELLLLPPPPP!!!!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by birdzrdbest, Nov 20, 2016.

  1. birdzrdbest

    birdzrdbest New Egg

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    Nov 20, 2016
    Hi,

    I need advice on integrating two new Serama hens with my single older widowed Serama hen into a chicken tractor. Free ranging is not an option as every Cooper's Hawk for miles browses my yard, daily, and my old hen totally lacks "street smarts." Below is my TMI explanation. I understand if you have absolutely no desire to read it...but any advice on integrating adult birds in a smaller confined space would be much appreciated...

    I live in an urban neighborhood. I have gotten away with having two Serama hens and a rooster in a VERY quiet neighborhood for the past 6 years. My bird have lived in a small chicken tractor (2'x7' plus a 2'x2.5' house overhead) in my small back yard, very successfully. In May of this year, I was finally reduced to my last hen, Pansy. Much to my surprise, in her grief, she became SUPER aggressive and violent (ie, she would try to draw blood every time you got near her). This is a problem, because we bring her into the garage to sleep at night (a routine that came about to keep the rooster from waking the neighborhood, but that is relatively essential during the winter, as Seramas are not cold hardy). Anyhow, we waited for about 4 months to see if Pansy's aggression would reverse. And it didn't.

    I found myself very sad for Pansy's greif and fear. So, we picked up a couple of new adult hens to see if Pansy would cheer up. We quarantined the chickens for over a month. For the last several weeks the birds have been positioned such that that they were within sight of each other, and vocalized back and forth, frequently. Finally, a few days prior to the planned poultry merger, I put the new hens in the chicken tractor and put Pansy in the temporary cage, so that everyone was familiar with the living arrangements, prior to formal introduction. I've had chickens before, and I knew that the birds would have to beat up on each other some, to establish the pecking order. And my new hens are so docile and sweet (with one of them being particularly small), that I was concerned that Pansy was going to be a very territorial beast.

    So, on poultry merger day, I took Pansy over to the chicken tractor and opened the door, and she walked in. The new birds were like little death ninjas, especially the really small hen, and in the span of a few seconds, they had Pansy pinned in a corner and were trying to rip off her eyelids. Once I had recovered Pansy and saw all of the bruises and lacerations, I sat there and cried, horrified at what I'd just inadvertently done.

    My husband decided that if the chickens slept together at night, that maybe they'd warm up to each other. After many violent hiccups, they all went to bed in the cage. But many hours after they seemingly fell asleep, pandemonium started in the garage, so we separated them and didn't try that again.

    Over the last week, the birds have continued to live separate, with Pansy back in the tractor and the new birds in the temporary cage, located directly side by side. Pansy had new laceration on her face a few days ago, so either something scared the bejeebers out of her or she was trying to fight through the cage wire.

    Yesterday, we took the birds out, in the open in the yard, and scattered a bunch of treats about. They mostly tried to keep their distance from each other, but it was more or less the same scenario as last weekend, except that my husband and I moderated (one hen would jump on the other, and we'd break it up immediately). Pansy still got a pretty good beating, while the other hens don't show any signs of damage. Pansy is not a skilled fighter, and while she's kinda scrappy, she's pulling feathers rather than tearing at the other hens' faces. And her age shows--she gets winded much faster than the new birds.

    I was hoping that I could get some pinless peepers (chicken blinders) to help diffuse the situation and allow integration, but they evidently don't make them for bantams.

    I'm desperate to make this situation work. I believe that it could, but I obviously don't know how to orchestrate it. One of the bigger reasons that I got the new hens is so that they will snuggle with Pansy through the cold winter, as Pansy really HATES the cold. So, this was the long story, so that you have all of the details. Any advice would be so very much appreciated. If my poultry merger will never work, I need to know that, too. I can be patient, if you believe that things could become better in time. But if I can never trust the new hens not to kill Pansy, then I need to accept that reality, too. Thank you so much for your help!
     
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    Put Pansy back in the tractor until she is once again comfortable there. Then try introducing the least aggressive of the two new hens. See if one on one Pansy can hold her own. If she does introduce the second new hen a period of time later - days or even weeks not hours. Good luck. As you know chicken society can be very cruel.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC!
    Long story, yes, but well written and lots of details are good.

    Good suggestion from Sourland.

    Although your tiny coop/run worked for years with your trio, integration of new birds takes extra space.
    It's all about territory....and resources(food,water, space).
    Which is why the new birds beat on Pansy after they gained possession of the tractor and then she waltzed in.
    If at all possible, a larger coop would definitely help.....
    ....and a brand new environment for all the birds at once will temper the territoriality aspect.

    It's going to take lots of juggling to get them to coexist without injury...starting with sourland's suggestion.
    Keep mixing and matching, switching up who is in which enclosure with whom.

    Not sure if you've browsed this forum much but...
    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading, tho some info is outdated IMO:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock
     

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