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Introducing new chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by chickenthyme, Jul 18, 2019.

  1. chickenthyme

    chickenthyme Chirping

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    I just keep coming up with new questions it seems. A neighbor of my daughter's was able to take the rooster I was not wanting to keep and he has raised chickens most of his life, has shown them at fairs and buys and sells them. When we were talking I said I had really wanted to get some blue egg layers and before he left, he said he could probably get me a few hens for my rooster. He got these hens almost the day after he took the rooster. We were gone for almost 5 days but before we got home, he added the two new girls right into my flock before we got home!
    Of course, my girls aren't overly happy about this and the two new ones which seem a bit younger (mine are about 17 weeks) are basically afraid of the older girls. I have automatic coop door opening in morning and closing at night. The two new ones didn't make an effort to go into the coop tonight and are roosting in the run.
    Any suggestions or pointers you can make with the situation? Everything I had read until now made it sound like you didn't introduce them to the older flock this way but this guy says they'll work it out. Not liking them roosting in run even though I think it's fairly secure but any advice you can offer will be much appreciated!!
     
  2. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Free Ranging

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    Well he already threw them in there, so no point in reintroducing them or separating them as long as they're not causing damage to each other. Adding an extra feeder will help a lot, if you only have one, as well some obstacles, so the new birds can hide from the others if they feel they're being harassed too much.
     
    Sheeba likes this.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    OhBoy.

    Skip the separation parts.
    Integration Basics:
    It's all about territory and resources(space/food/water).
    Existing birds will almost always attack new ones to defend their resources.
    Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best if mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

    The more space, the better.
    Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no copious blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down and beaten unmercilessly, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide 'out of line of sight'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds. Roosts, pallets or boards leaned up against walls or up on concrete blocks, old chairs tables, branches, logs, stumps out in the run can really help. Lots of diversion and places to 'hide' instead of bare wide open run.
     
  4. chickenthyme

    chickenthyme Chirping

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    Well day 2 and I didn't notice any bad behavior but the little girls pretty much stay on the roost while the big girls are out. I knew the littles were probably not going to go into the coop tonight (and they didn't) and there are risks of thunderstorms tonight and tomorrow and I don't feel being in the run adequately protects them so I've moved them into the puppy playpen I had for the other girls. Still a little unsure of how to integrate them but for the moment I feel like it's a better option. Boy......who would have thought there could be so many issues raising chickens! ;)
     
    Maugwa, Sheeba and so lucky like this.
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    Do not separate them unless there is blood. Don't put them in the playpen, put them in the coop. If you need to, separate the roost into two parts by taping a piece of cardboard in the middle, and put the new ones on one side.

    Do take a look at your run, add some pallets, lean them against the wall, put them up on cement blocks, add small pieces of plywood, and stick a feed station behind it, so that while eating in one feed station, you can't see a bird at another.

    It will be a bit cranky, but I assume they are not bloody, let them work it out. The more you separate them, the longer and the worst it will be. More than likely the worst was while you were gone, don't go back to that by separating them, they already got through it.

    And at 17 weeks, they will be laying soon, and then will become part of the flock.

    Mrs K
     
    Maugwa likes this.
  6. Orit

    Orit Songster

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    This thread has been super helpful!!! I am in a similar situation, but still experiencing problems. See process below (sorry for the length!)

    I have 6 hens in my existing flock (they are 2-years old).
    I got 3 baby chicks in the Spring (they are now 13 weeks old).

    I have a large pet cage with a ramp to an upper level - perfect for the babies at 6-7 weeks.
    1. I put the cage in the yard and put the babies in there with food and water for a few hours each day within view while the big girls were free ranging.
    2. When the babies transitioned to living outside full time, I put the cage INSIDE the chicken coop/run. The babies lived there happily with their own food and water and within sight of the others for several weeks. I free ranged them separately for about a week and a half.
    3. Then I transitioned to free-ranging them together but still using the cage for the babies when in the run. Mega bully emerged from my existing flock (she also happens to be at the bottom of the pecking order in the existing flock)and chased the little girls all around the yard and attacked with a vengeance, pulling out feathers. The little girls are TERRIFIED and go running at the sight of her. Currently the big girls free range comfortably, and the little girls stick together, apart from the big girls, but avoid the bully.
    4. I opened the door to the cage so the little girls now can enter and exit when they like. However, the bully can reach them now with the cage door open so they fly to the top of the cage to get away from the bully and pretty much spend most of their time up there when hens are in the run. This went on for a little over a week.
    5. Then I put the little girls on the roost at night with the big girls. Only 1 of them stayed the whole night (the other 2 found their way out of the coop and slept in the run). Later when everyone was awake, they were hiding behind the drinker and feeder (clearly bully was terrorizing). The following nights they became used to this arrangement and have since stayed the night on the roost (it's been 3 days)
    6. I decided to lock the bully in the cage at night while the little girls were transitioning to the roost with the others. I let the bully out when I let everyone out to free range. Bully gets locked in the cage every time girls get locked in the coop/run.

    SO... am I doing the right thing with the bully (who I happen to love, but can't stand this new side I'm seeing)? If so, how long should I do this for? I will add more "obstacles" to the run (great idea!) although it is a small run. Finally, will the little girls definitely be at the bottom of the pecking order?

    THANK YOU!
     
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    Get pin-less peepers for the bully. You are through the worst of it, really. Once they start to lay, they will become one flock. Until them, try either confining the bully even during the day, or pin-less peepers on her.

    You might take a good look at your run, do you have a small piece of plywood, can put a feed bowl behind that, pallets, up on cement blocks, leaned against a wall, while making the place look cluttered, much better for chickens. Stick a broken handle kitty corner to make another roost.

    Mrs K
     
  8. Orit

    Orit Songster

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  9. Orit

    Orit Songster

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    Thanks so much, Mrs. K! I feel reassured and will look into pin-less peepers. I'm thinking now that I will take the animal cage out of the coop and create a safe corner for the newbies instead. However, they rely heavily on the cage for safety at the moment (they fly to the top), and now the bully lives in the cage whenever the flock is closed in, so I am hesitating a bit to get rid of the cage. It's been 3 days now of locking the bully up in the cage whenever the chickens are in the run. The bully is not happy! Will locking her up for a few days and nights tame her a bit? I do let her out to free range so she is not totally being sequestered.
     
  10. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    Totallying sequestering her would be best. Even pulling her away from the flock so they forget her for several days. This would put her lower in the pecking order, it has worked for some people, but often times an aggressive hen, has no problem working her way back up.

    A lot of people can't do that, so the pin-less peepers really help. She will look funny with them on, she will be able to eat, but it stops her forward vision, and she cannot chase.

    In a small set up, they can really help.

    Mrs K
     
    Maugwa and so lucky like this.

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