introducing a new hen


In the Brooder
9 Years
May 6, 2010
I found myself taking in a new EE pullet from my neighbor who was moving and couldn't find a home for this one. I only have 3 in my flock a BR, RIR, and a dark brahma. (listed in pecking order.) They are all 6 months old and the new EE is about 6 weeks younger. I kept the new hen in separate for 5 weeks and appeared perfectly healthy. I made a temporary pen in the yard for her to let them see each other for a few days before i let her loose in the yard and put her on the roost after the other chickens had gone to bed. When I did let her out in the yard she got picked on a little but nothing too bad. Now, after 2 weeks she is tolerated but not really accepted. She can be about 5 feet from the other birds before she gets chased away, she doesn't let anybody get close enough to get a peck in. She has kinda made friends with the dark brahma who now also is chased off the roost by the BR. My problem is its getting cold here in Idaho and the girls are gonna be spending a lot more time in their run. I only made my coop and run with having 3 "free range" chickens so my run is only 4ft x 9ft. I wrapped the run in clear plastic for the winter and covered the ground in hay for them to have a place out of the wind and snow. We don't have snow on the ground all winter here so most days they will still be allowed out in the yard but when I do have them locked up I don't want my new EE to get hurt or killed....Any ideas? Should I just lock em up and see what happens? Any ideas why my dark brahma is not allowed on the roost anymore? Is it completely hopeless? Is the age difference too much?
Sounds pretty normal. I like to put a second feed/water station out when I add new birds and it can also help to add another roosting area if you have the space. Since they haven't been hard core about picking on her it should get better with time. You can put treats like a hanging cabbage (can take awhile for them to decide it won't eat them) out or a flock block to help keep them distracted and out of trouble when the weather gets bad and they are spending more time cooped up.
Chicken integration is just like high school. The girls will argue, be mean to newcomers, have cliques, and prance and posture. You have a small flock so integrating has been easy. It sounds like it is actually going really well. There are going to be minor scuffles, but that's to be expected. With a little more time you will hopefully see some relaxation in the boundaries of the previous flock. Kittymomma was right on about the toys to keep them busy in the run. They'll get up to less mischief if they have something food-related to concentrate on. The age difference is not at issue. I have 6 month olds in with 3 year olds and they are getting better and better about being together. It just takes time. Chickens hate change and hate new things. New coopmates are like both those things rolled into one package, so chickens can be miserable to new birds. Yours don't sound like they are being terrible. They are just being chickens.

Good luck with them. I hope things continue to move forward in a positive manner.

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