Integration oddities or normal behavior?

vantain

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Sep 2, 2018
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My 8 chicks are now 5 1/2 weeks old. I have started allowing them to have supervised visits with two older hens I have. They are ISA Browns, and are just over two years old.
one of the older girls (Daisy) has turned out to be super chill with the new ones. She will gently peck at them, but only if they actually peck her first. The other one (Gwyneth) will peck them hard in the backside, and chase them away if they get anywhere within three feet of her. She is the lead hen of those two older girls.
Normally, I think they would be fine, as the littles can get away from Gwyneth. However, if anyone has seen my story of Precious, she is a blind Barred Rock that I have. I think she is fine with Daisy, but Gwyneth is not very forgiving. I’m concerned with integrating her with the older one for this one reason. She cannot defend herself, or get away if needed, because she can’t see where to run.
Any suggestions on how I might be able to make this work, or otherwise get this one hen to just be civil?
Here are my little chicks with Daisy.
B249F80A-64D6-4EA5-BD85-21D9672DA8AA.jpeg
 

vantain

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Sep 2, 2018
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Southern Minnesota
I have eight 6 week old chicks (7 females,1 male) who I began integrating with two older (2yr old) hens a few days ago. At first it was only for limited time, and under supervision. Didn’t know what to expect. One of the hens has done very well, and I’m confident they could be left alone with her. More on that in a minute. The other hen (Gwyneth) is just not playing well. She pecks and chases all the chicks, and will continue to peck them mercilessly if cornered. Today I jailed her.

So that is problem A..how to deal with her, and get her to be more calm with the littles. Problem B may not be a problem at all, but something odd happened today. Maybe not odd...but the good hen (Daisy) went into full mothering mode today. She was clucking at them, showing them where the food was, putting them down for naps, getting them to dust bathe, scratch the ground...etc etc....ALL DAY long. I tried giving her her favorite meal worm treat, and she just took it and dropped it in front of the chicks, encouraging them to eat it. It was wonderful to see, but I’m wondering if this is normal behavior for a 6 week integration.

Tonight, when the chicks went in to their side of the coop, I discovered one missing. I found her, under the good hens wing. She protested when I removed the chick and put her on her side of the coop. The coop is partitioned right now while I’m working on the integration.

I do have blind chick, so this mothering has been a blessing for her. The good hen has been taking great care of her. Now, so far, the mothering has not resulted in protection from Gwyneth.

Any thoughts on how I should deal with this? Is Daisy, acting motherly, normal for integration like this?

019F7AE2-65BF-415F-8EB9-CA293280FB9F.jpeg
 

igorsMistress

Frank and Abbys mom.
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Awe, what a sweet girl Daisy is! I'd like to follow and see what suggestions you get. Ordinarily I'd say at least a month of see but no touch time. Regardless, if there's a way to add things to the run or yard where the chicks can get away from Gwyneth if she corners them, that has helped here. Just a piece of wood they can hide behind or a bucket or anything really. Also, food and water in multiple locations and out if sight of each other is helpful until the chicks get bigger.
 

vantain

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Sep 2, 2018
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Southern Minnesota
Awe, what a sweet girl Daisy is! I'd like to follow and see what suggestions you get. Ordinarily I'd say at least a month of see but no touch time. Regardless, if there's a way to add things to the run or yard where the chicks can get away from Gwyneth if she corners them, that has helped here. Just a piece of wood they can hide behind or a bucket or anything really. Also, food and water in multiple locations and out if sight of each other is helpful until the chicks get bigger.
I have brooded the chicks in the coop with the big girls since they were just a few days old. It’s been see but not touch the whole time.
 

vantain

Songster
Sep 2, 2018
700
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Southern Minnesota
Awe, what a sweet girl Daisy is! I'd like to follow and see what suggestions you get. Ordinarily I'd say at least a month of see but no touch time. Regardless, if there's a way to add things to the run or yard where the chicks can get away from Gwyneth if she corners them, that has helped here. Just a piece of wood they can hide behind or a bucket or anything really. Also, food and water in multiple locations and out if sight of each other is helpful until the chicks get bigger.
There are two runs, side-by-side. The new run for the chicks (8x14) and the existing run (8x8) for the big girls. They have been out in their new run for a week now. The only thing separating the two runs is some plastic poultry fencing, which is open now. There are places to get away. The blind chick is really the problem. She does not know when she is near Gwyneth, and then gets pecked and doesn’t know where to run...or runs and runs into something hard.

Here are two pics. The one with the bigger hens is their original run. You can see Gwyneth in her jail cell. You can also see the new run behind that. The second pic is the new run.
682EF166-69FD-4EAE-9044-ADA36E6647C9.jpeg
4B57546A-61D1-4107-9A34-C6E94E88EEDA.jpeg
 

igorsMistress

Frank and Abbys mom.
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I have brooded the chicks in the coop with the big girls since they were just a few days old. It’s been see but not touch the whole time.
That's why I said ordinarily...the places to hide and preventing chicks from getting cornered by offering places to escape or hide is pretty standard and would likely work in your situation.
 

Pghelp

Songster
Jul 4, 2018
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Greater Bay Area, Vallejo, California
I have eight 6 week old chicks (7 females,1 male) who I began integrating with two older (2yr old) hens a few days ago. At first it was only for limited time, and under supervision. Didn’t know what to expect. One of the hens has done very well, and I’m confident they could be left alone with her. More on that in a minute. The other hen (Gwyneth) is just not playing well. She pecks and chases all the chicks, and will continue to peck them mercilessly if cornered. Today I jailed her.

So that is problem A..how to deal with her, and get her to be more calm with the littles. Problem B may not be a problem at all, but something odd happened today. Maybe not odd...but the good hen (Daisy) went into full mothering mode today. She was clucking at them, showing them where the food was, putting them down for naps, getting them to dust bathe, scratch the ground...etc etc....ALL DAY long. I tried giving her her favorite meal worm treat, and she just took it and dropped it in front of the chicks, encouraging them to eat it. It was wonderful to see, but I’m wondering if this is normal behavior for a 6 week integration.

Tonight, when the chicks went in to their side of the coop, I discovered one missing. I found her, under the good hens wing. She protested when I removed the chick and put her on her side of the coop. The coop is partitioned right now while I’m working on the integration.

I do have blind chick, so this mothering has been a blessing for her. The good hen has been taking great care of her. Now, so far, the mothering has not resulted in protection from Gwyneth.

Any thoughts on how I should deal with this? Is Daisy, acting motherly, normal for integration like this?

View attachment 2180838
That's just adorable! You and the chicks are very lucky. You may need to leave Gweneth incarcerated unless you are there to supervise and intervene. We had to do that with our Barred Rock who just would not stop being mean. If Daisy is bonding so well with the littles, I would think she might defend them from attacks too. There will have to be adjustments to the pecking order but for now it seems that Gweneth feels the need to show the littles she's their boss. I would encourage Daisy's protective behavior especially while the chicks are too small to defend themselves.
 

vantain

Songster
Sep 2, 2018
700
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178
Southern Minnesota
That's just adorable! You and the chicks are very lucky. You may need to leave Gweneth incarcerated unless you are there to supervise and intervene. We had to do that with our Barred Rock who just would not stop being mean. If Daisy is bonding so well with the littles, I would think she might defend them from attacks too. There will have to be adjustments to the pecking order but for now it seems that Gweneth feels the need to show the littles she's their boss. I would encourage Daisy's protective behavior especially while the chicks are too small to defend themselves.
Gwyneth is the top bird. We originally had four of the older ones (ISA Browns), but lost two in the last year. I figure she is definitely trying to hold her position. She was always the bottom bird until the last one was sick and died, then she made her move. Daisy has always been the most aggressive of the bunch, and was top bird for about a year, which is why she has totally surprised us with these chicks. When we first got them, she was squawking up a storm for weeks. She even pecked them hard through the chicken wire wall we have separating them in the coop. Now this pleasant surprise.

I’ll see how they all do again tomorrow. As for today, before I put Gwyneth in jail, Daisy was not protecting anyone. Maybe the mothering thing got stronger through the day.
 

MANNA-PRO

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