Integrating/Introducing Serama Hens

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by birdzrdbest, Nov 20, 2016.

  1. birdzrdbest

    birdzrdbest New Egg

    Nov 20, 2016

    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. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. Premium Member

    Jun 15, 2012
    Welcome to BYC! I'm glad you joined us! :)
  3. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    I don't know if the mean girls will ever accept Pansy . Since she is old and widowed, you may want to make her a house chicken. I think that would give new pep to her step - humans make much better flock mates than mean chickens. I bet she would bloom in a house setting. You may want to check out "people with house chickens."

    My friend has had house chickens for over 25 years, different breeds and sometimes several in the house at once. She has a rag and cleaning supplies handy, and cleans up messes as soon as they occur. Right now she has two matronly serama hens and 1 younger silkie hen. The seramas do not accept the silkie and she is afraid of them. My friend never tried to integrate them just added the silkie. My friend has never been "alpha" to any of her birds, she lets them do whatever they want so I feel in her case, this is the problem.

    With just one bird in the house, I really think it will make a major difference with Pansy, and you may find what good little house dog a chicken can be.
  4. Yorkshire Coop

    Yorkshire Coop Moderator Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2014
    Yorkshire, UK
    My Coop
    Hi :welcome

    Glad you could join the flock! Sorry to hear you are having so much trouble with getting Pansy and the new girls together :hugs Chicken pecking orders and new members of the flock sure can cause some pretty nasty bust ups. For me time would be the main factor, time and perseverance in getting them all together.
    The see but don't method ~ that you are doing is usually the best way of getting them introduced. Although this does not always eliminate scuffles. I hope with time you can get them all together.

    Good luck and enjoy BYC :frow
  5. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    1 person likes this.
  6. birdzrdbest

    birdzrdbest New Egg

    Nov 20, 2016
    Unfortunately, Pansy doesn't qualify for a house chicken position. She has BAD chronic diarrhea (and has been to the vet for it many times).
  7. Ducks4us

    Ducks4us Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 31, 2015
    North Idaho
    if it was me i would either keep them seperate but next to each other. That way pansy can see and hear the other chickens so she wont feel alone. But so they cant touch each other or beat her up. And leave them like this permantly
    Or i would sell the others and let pansy be a single chicken. In the garage at night is probably perfectly warm enough for her. Chickens handle cold way better than we can imagine.
    Or 3rd option would be to sell the new girls and find more docile bantys to try to introduce to her. Maybe some silkies, or bantam ameraucanas. Or cochins.
    Maybe younger ones as well. That way they wont beat her up and maybe she wont feel so threatened.
    Also is your garage completly dark? Or is there light? Because in complete dark chickens dont fight, and are not active.
    If pansy goes into the garage in an open bar cage or something i would at least cover her cage with a blanket or sheet to provide complete dark for her to sleep properly. And so there are no drafts.
  8. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    Greetings from Kansas and :welcome! Great to have you in our flock! Looks like you've already received a plethora of great advice so I'll just say best wishes and thanks for joining BYC! :weee
  9. CuzChickens

    CuzChickens CountryChick

    Apr 24, 2016
    Hello there, and welcome to Backyard Chickens! I am so glad you joined us, I do hope you will make yourself at home here. Enjoy BYC!
  10. birdzrdbest

    birdzrdbest New Egg

    Nov 20, 2016
    Unfortunately, Pansy has chronic diarrhea. She is not eligible as a house chicken.

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