Introduced 2 new hens and it's not going well....need advice please

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cherylcohen, Oct 10, 2009.

  1. cherylcohen

    cherylcohen The Omelet Ranch

    Sep 18, 2009
    SF East Bay CA
    Long story short..We started our flock with 4 hens - now 4 months, We loved them so much we felt we needed more so we went to a fabulous local breeder and were supposed to get 2 more and ended up getting 4!!! So here we are now with a total of 8!
    we lost our orpigton to mareks - it was horrible. So in my mourning I went to our local breeder and picked up another orpington, well that was a disaster and she got so bullied she died of...I'm not quite sure but maybe not eating or drinking (we let it go on for 2 days and should have isolated her)
    So now we have 7...I really wanted an orpington so we decided to go back to the breeder and get 2 so we could isolate them and they would bond. Total 9

    Here is my problem. The orpington and Cuckoo maran (a bit of a scaredy cat because she was pecked at the breeder) that we just got have been in a large isolated area within the pen, we've been letting them socialize with the others at night when we bring down some treats of veggies etc. We sit and watch them and the 2 new ones are just so terrified they huddle in a corner.

    We did a little experiment last night and put the two new ones in the hen house. I'm going to go open the pen and run for them now and will still isolate the 2 new ones.

    I don't really know what to do....will they ever like each other? Am i doing the right thing? How long do we need to keep this up?

    signed... Worried chicken mom
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2009
  2. paddock36

    paddock36 Crowing

    Dec 24, 2008
    Ocala, Florida
    I had similar problems trying to introduce my EE to my five others. I put her in a pen inside the run and fed the others next to her pen so they had to be around one another. Then after about a week I put her in the coup at night with the others . There was still some picking but not as much as before. I have a barred rock that when I introduced her she kicked butt of two other hens and then no problem at all. I think it somewhat has to do with the personality of the bird.
  3. zowieyellowflame

    zowieyellowflame Songster

    Jun 11, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    I had 2 groups of birds..... 3 month old girls and boys and then the big coop..... adult hens, 1 adult roo and their offspring, a mix of boys and girls that were 4 months old. I had to get the 4 month old roos out and the 3 month old girls in, AND combine the 3 month and 4 month old roos together in the "finishing" coop. The coops have no windows so I control the light with flurescents on a timer.
    Early in the am, after the lights came on, I snuck out and turned out the lights. (a touch of light came in at the door so I could see their silhouettes but they basically froze exactly where they were)
    I put all of the 3 month old girls and boys on the floor of the big coop, they huddled together. Then I took out the 4 month old roos and I put them in the little coop and let them get used to the space with the light on. Then I removed the 3 month old roos I had just put into the big coop. I put them back in their old little coop where there were now the 4 month old roos. The roos all kind of avoided each other for a couple days, now they cuddle.
    The girls avoided the big hens (and still do) but it worked out, things are ok.
    So, my point is, in the dark, go in, put your 2 new ones in the big part, maybe take out the 2 most aggressive and put them in the little part, or just get them out of there for an hour. Pick up a few of the others, freak them out a bit, they will think they are being killed. Put them back down, and turn on the lights. I think they will be too overwhelmed with what just happened to pick on the new ones.
  4. cherylcohen

    cherylcohen The Omelet Ranch

    Sep 18, 2009
    SF East Bay CA
    Just came back from letting everyone out. The new orpington was on a roost next to the others but the scared little cuckoo maran was huddled in the laying box. I let them all out and it was fine for a bit but then the queens of the pen started laying into them. So I've put them in their little pen within the pen.

    I'm so worried the scared one is just not going to get with it, let alone the sweet orpington.

    These are the other 7 birds I have
    rhode island red
    wheaton ameraucana
    columbian wyandotte
    gold laced wyandotte
    speckled sussex
    another ameraucana - she's crazy and runs like a road runner - she's small I think because they all pick on her.
    Blue Wyandotte
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2009
  5. crazyhen

    crazyhen Crowing

    Aug 26, 2008
    mtns of ,NC.
    Tke the aggressive queens out for three or four days until the others get straightened out. The queens will be so busy getting back into the pecking order they will not bother the others. If the queens continue to be mean they may become stew or you may have to decide between them. Also during this time the queens should be in a seperate area that they can still see the others but not interact with them.
    I have a section of pen that has wire between it and the main coop. They can see each other but not peck each other. I leave the the new chickens there for many weeks before joining my new ones to older established flock. I hope this helps Gloria Jean
  6. blaines.insane

    blaines.insane In the Brooder

    Dec 26, 2008
    SW Utah
    I'm facing a similar dilemma, as are some of my friends. I have an old ameraucana hen that is mean as can be. She scalped a poor little 4 month old RIR that accidentally made his way into her territory. For a while, she had the coop to herself, after having been the sole survivor of a dog attack. Then I threw in 8 adolescent welsummer cockerels. She went about putting them all in their place. I thought I would see them all dead the next morning, but they all survived -- and within a few days, they were all beat into submission. Then what started to happen is one of the roos began to establish dominance over the rest of the roos. It was completely non-violent... he just bullied them, ate the most food, and got bigger. It's just him and "ugly betty" in the coop right now.

    I have another flock of 4 welsummers -- 3 hens and a nasty roo. They were being kept in a chicken tractor some 15 feet away. about 3 weeks ago, I let them out so they could begin to mingle through the fence with ugly betty and her man. At first, they fought tooth and nail through the fence. That when on for at least a week, maybe two. This past week, there have been no altercations through the fence.

    I have tried in the past introducing chickens in the dark. I don't know if it helped or not.

    I think if I were to introduce my younger welsummers into ugly betty's coop, all hell would break loose -- because it's her territory, and they would be no match for her. I think, however, if I were to introduce ugly betty into their territory, they might be more willing to defend their domain. That could be a bad thing, too.

    But my plan is to let them socialize through the fence for at least a few more weeks. I will then open up the back door on the chicken coop which will allow both flocks to mingle in the pasture on their own terms.

    Before I do that, however, I am going to pull the nasty roo that's currently with the wellie girls. I don't think putting two rival males together would turn out pretty.

    Eventually, I need to block access to one of the coops, because I have a full batch of eggs ready to hatch in about a week, and they will be going into the coop when they are old enough to withstand the cold.

    I don't know how that will go, either, having the girls blocked off from their favorite nests.

    Chicken social orders are still a bit of a mystery to me. Has anyone written a book on the subject?
  7. cherylcohen

    cherylcohen The Omelet Ranch

    Sep 18, 2009
    SF East Bay CA
    The dynamics are truly fascinating. My RIR seems to be queen #1, Wheaton Ameraucana #2, Gold laced wyandotte #3 (these are all the elders by a few weeks!) and then the newest queen #4 is the Columbian Wyandotte...but then just when I think I've got it figured out the blue wyandotte pecks the heck out of the speckled sussex.

    I'm still not sure what to do with my new scared ones. They are from the same "batch" as the others so they are all about 4 - 4/12 months old
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2009
  8. chookchick

    chookchick Songster

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    Here's some info on introducing chickens:

    The important thing to remember is that chickens see any new ones as "threats" and "usurpers of space and food" rather than new chicken buddies. It takes a while for them to see them as "flockmates". That is why I use the "see but don't touch" method for 3 weeks before introduction. It is also important to have plenty of room and 2 feeders for everyone, preferably one that is out of sight line of most of the flock. It may take up to a month after introduction before things really settle down also. Please be aware that introductions are very risky and stressful for the birds--you might want to take a break after this one. You are lucky to have no problems with disease outbreaks yet. ETA--oh I see you had Mareks!
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2009
  9. cherylcohen

    cherylcohen The Omelet Ranch

    Sep 18, 2009
    SF East Bay CA
    thanks for the great read! We're trying a combo of a few things, right new the queen chickens are away from the others, but they can still see them and be seen. The others now all seem to be playing fairly nicely together :0)
  10. NellaBean

    NellaBean Graceland Farms

    Mar 4, 2009
    Broodyland, TN
    My Coop
    I didn't read the whole thread but wanted to hop on here and say that I had to introduce a single hen to a group of 9 and it took months to make it work. It did eventually work just fine and she is one of the group now...actually one of the Rooster's favorites. But I had to keep her separate for a long time. Here is the thread on it.

    I did have much more success trying to integrate larger groups. Last time I had to put 7 and 9 together. No major problems at all. They had seen each other as neighbors for weeks and were staying in the same coop at night but there were enough to spread out the picking.

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