Introduced a new hen

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by lenn, Oct 19, 2014.

  1. lenn

    lenn In the Brooder

    Apr 24, 2014
    My 5 hens killed a new polish hen that I introduced on Friday. I feel terrible! Once this happens is it not possible to bring a 6th chicken into the coop. Only saw a few pecks while we were outside with them but last night something went terrible wrong. Really want a 6th hen but thinking this might not be possible. I never want this to happen again.
  2. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I'm sorry for you for having to go through this experience. It's tragic, and I know you're feeling all sorts of strong emotions over it. Try to understand that chickens are more complex than people give them credit for, and they have strict social rules that make them seem vicious at times. Understanding these rules will help you avoid such tragedies in the future.

    For chicken society, it's a numbers game. Think of them as units. These units are formed when baby chicks are raise together and mature into adulthood together. Each chicken in this unit derives their self confidence from this group. From experience, I've discovered that any unit consisting of less than four individuals is doomed to be inferior against other units in a flock. These small units, from one to three individuals often will be bullied and picked on. Units of four or more are far more able to stand up to older members of a flock.

    Now, when you introduced a single hen into an existing flock, she didn't stand a chance. She was outnumbered. She lacked other members of a unit to give her self confidence in dealing with the other chickens. She was probably resigned to be brutalized and didn't even put up a fight due to being solitary and having zero self confidence.

    To add to your flock, it's necessary to do it in numbers. You will almost always fail when adding just one at a time. If it's a nice round number you desire, try adding five more to make ten, and they will have the strength and self confidence of being a unit of five to hold their own against your existing five hens.

    If you wish to add adult hens, just make certain they were raised together from babies and know and trust each other. Or else you'll be importing a circus of conflict.

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