Integrating new flock members, HELP!!

BLG0617

In the Brooder
Jul 8, 2021
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31
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So I have read that trying to integrate new birds into an established flock is easier when the established flock is younger. The established flock consists of 1 light brahma cockerel, 2 light brahma pullets, 3 olive egger pullets, and 2 midnight majesty marans pullets, all of which are about 18 weeks old. Then I have 2 pearl star leghorn pullets, about 12 weeks old. The pearl stars were in a brooder up until a few weeks ago and I've moved them into a temporary homemade coop in my garage. For the past 2 weeks, I've been bringing out the 2 new ladies and keeping them in a pack and play turned upside down so that they rest of the flock (free ranging) can see them, get close enough to smell and somewhat interact with them but not completely get to them. I thought all seemed well and decided to let the 2 pearl stars out today. Immediately all of the established flock came over to check them out, and after a few minutes of hanging out around them they all seemed bored and moved on, with the exception of one of the Oliver egger hens. Now this hen is a top dog if you will. She roosts on the top, and even my sweet brahma boy gets chased off by her sometimes. This OE girl literally circled the 2 new pullets over and over and kept giving them HARD pecks on the back. The little 2 were doing everything they could to stay out of her way, but she kept following them anywhere they went bullying them. It's been about 3/4 hours now and she goes in spurts where she will peck and harass them for 20 or 30 minutes then move on a while, then come back to bully them some more. So far no blood has been shed but I'm still a little concerned and nervous about putting the 2 new ladies in the coop with them tonight. Once they are locked in, they'll have little place to run and hide from her. I guess I could put the 2 new pullets back into the temporary garage coop, but doesn't that just delay the inevitable? Should I put bully hen in there by herself for a few days to help re-establish the pecking order while she's gone? Or am I simply overthinking this since no one has been seriously hurt or injured?
 

LizzzyJo

Crowing
Dec 14, 2018
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The Great Black Swamp, Ohio
The best scenario would be a "look dont touch" period of two weeks wherein the two groups are divided by chicken wire at all times. If you can't do this, then bringing them out daily for a few days or weeks will help. The movement for the new girls into the henhouse itself will be problematic due to this being the old girls' "territory". If she is still pecking them after a few days of exposure, then she will likely do this in the henhouse. You may wake up to a bloody mess if you incorporate to early - or - it could be fine. :idunno I've had both happen.
 

BLG0617

In the Brooder
Jul 8, 2021
17
31
44
The best scenario would be a "look dont touch" period of two weeks wherein the two groups are divided by chicken wire at all times. If you can't do this, then bringing them out daily for a few days or weeks will help. The movement for the new girls into the henhouse itself will be problematic due to this being the old girls' "territory". If she is still pecking them after a few days of exposure, then she will likely do this in the henhouse. You may wake up to a bloody mess if you incorporate to early - or - it could be fine. :idunno I've had both happen.
Well I've essentially been doing that for 2 weeks now, not with wire separating them but the pack and play turned upside down serving the same purpose. I've heard of putting the new girls in the coop inside of a small dog cage to keep separation but my coops just not big enough for that. I am trying to avoid any blood shed but am I being unrealistic? It's just the one OE that's being mean to them, but oddly enough she's one of the friendliest with humans. I guess my question is, if I put the 2 pullets back into the garage coop for a few more weeks until they are bigger and closer to the size of the other pullets, the established flock will have reached the point of lay and the cockerel will be mating with them by then. Wouldn't this make matters worse?
 

LizzzyJo

Crowing
Dec 14, 2018
1,736
4,477
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The Great Black Swamp, Ohio
Many people wait to incorporate until they're the same size. I've never done this because I don't have the space. If you stop the look-dont-touch for a while, you will need to do it over again. No real issue on the laying/mating in my opinion. They're not very different in age.

Is it one girl that is the trouble? I had one that was my trouble maker/baby killer. She was a buff orpington. I sold her and haven't had incorporation issues since. You could consider making her sleep in the garage during the first week or so of the babies sleeping in the henhouse.

Also be sure to wake up SUPER early to open them up so that they don't get rowdy and bully in the morning before the door is open.
 

BLG0617

In the Brooder
Jul 8, 2021
17
31
44
Many people wait to incorporate until they're the same size. I've never done this because I don't have the space. If you stop the look-dont-touch for a while, you will need to do it over again. No real issue on the laying/mating in my opinion. They're not very different in age.

Is it one girl that is the trouble? I had one that was my trouble maker/baby killer. She was a buff orpington. I sold her and haven't had incorporation issues since. You could consider making her sleep in the garage during the first week or so of the babies sleeping in the henhouse.

Also be sure to wake up SUPER early to open them up so that they don't get rowdy and bully in the morning before the door is open.
Yup, it's just one of my Olive Eggers that's being mean. None of the others seem to mind them hanging around at all. I think that's what I'm gonna do, remove her into the garage for a few nights and let the younger girls adjust. Now should I still let the trouble maker out to free range with the rest if the flock during the day, or keep her in complete solitary confinement the whole time?
 

LizzzyJo

Crowing
Dec 14, 2018
1,736
4,477
307
The Great Black Swamp, Ohio
Yup, it's just one of my Olive Eggers that's being mean. None of the others seem to mind them hanging around at all. I think that's what I'm gonna do, remove her into the garage for a few nights and let the younger girls adjust. Now should I still let the trouble maker out to free range with the rest if the flock during the day, or keep her in complete solitary confinement the whole time?
I've always found that brutal battles don't happen during free range (no fence at all). But, if you want to take her down a peg, you could prevent her from free ranging as well.
 

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