Introducing new hen - different breed/age?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Sarahnl, Aug 9, 2010.

  1. Sarahnl

    Sarahnl Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 23, 2010
    Hey everyone,
    I'm new on here, but I've used this wonderful forum as a go-to source for many questions in the past so hopefully someone on here can answer my question and/or put my mind at ease about the situation in my backyard right now...

    We have a small backyard flock which, until yesterday, consisted of 3 Barred Rock chicks about 7 weeks old. We'd ordered them through a source online and after we found a home for the extra chickens and had decided on our 3 "hens", one of them ended up being a rooster. Of course, just my luck. Well the farmer we'd given our extra 8 chicks to a few weeks ago (3 hens and 5 roosters...we had no idea they shipped a bunch of males for "warmth") was really nice and told us that if one of the supposed hens turned out to be a rooster he'd gladly swap us and we could have one of our original hens back. All this exchanging had been done through a friend whose family lives in this small town about 45 minutes from where I live, so I've had very minimal involvement in the actual swapping and whatnot.

    Well, yesterday was the day to send our rooster (Stevie Wonder) to the farm with the prospect of getting one of our hens back, thus completing the quaint little flock in our backyard. Well, my friend returned with the same carrier we sent her off with the rooster in and Low and Behold...an Ameraucana hen. Older than our 7 week girls. Farmer said she's not quite old enough to lay yet, but will certainly be laying before winter. If I had to guess I'd say she's probably about....a month or maybe even a month and a half older than our chicks. I'm not very familiar with the breed, as I've only ever had Barred Rock (and LOVED THEM) and one Rock Island way back when, so I'm not entirely sure about her age. I should try to get a picture on here...

    Anyways, we introduced her to the other 2 and there was much pandemonium. She was pacing and clucking all back and forth in the run. jumping around and generally not being a happy camper. Well then, one of our little girls (Lucy) started going at her and pecking at her! The smaller girl going after the big girl! I know I've read things about if there's no rooster sometimes a hen will take charge as a "dominant" one of the flock, and I'm hoping it's just a way of them creating a "pecking order" within the flock. Later that night I went out to the coop to peek in and see how everyone was getting along, the 2 Barred girls were sitting on their roost and the Ameraucana was no where to be found in the coop...she was sitting in a corner of the run.

    This morning I let out the 2 barred girls (like I always do) and decided to keep the Ameraucana in the coop/run to herself so she could have a chance to get accustomed to it without the other 2 around. And not only that, because she's bigger she could easily jump out of our yard, the other 2 are still small enough where they don't...or haven't tried hard enough yet. Well, I've been looking out in the yard every so often this morning and it seems as though the Ameraucana (Dolores, I guess I can attach a name to her since I have the other ones) is just staying in the run. As if she's scared or has been banned from the coop by the other 2 from the previous night?

    Should I just keep the newbie to herself in the coop/run area to try to make her feel comfortable? I don't want to stress her out much more than I'm sure she already is. Please, tell me they'll all get along eventually. I really wish we would've just gotten one of our previous hens of the same age and breed back!!
     
  2. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    Can you ask to swap out for one of your original pullets?
    Perhaps the farmer didn't realise that was important to you.

    If not:

    If they are not doing real trauma to each other, you can probably leave them together.
    If not separate
    You could try putting the EE on the roost with the others at night.
    Give them treats together.
    Make sure they have enough space so they can get away from each other

    Good luck

    Imp

    ETA- Welcome to BYC
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2010
  3. Morgan7782

    Morgan7782 Dense Egg Goo

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    Mar 22, 2010
    Sacramento CA
    I have a flock of 5 consisting of two 3 month olds, two 4 month olds, and one 5-6 month old. All pullets. My 4 month old Barred Rock is the absolute head hen of these girls, and she does chase my HUGE 5-6 month old Brahma. And the Brahma runs.

    4 weeks is the gap I have, and so far there has been no bloodshed. I would keep the Ameraucana in sight, hearing and smelling distance, but with the protection of some sort of fencing. Do that for about a week, and then I would put them together either free ranging or somewhere the new girl can get away if she wants to. I wish you luck! I was able to integrate chicks with a 4 week gap without any harm, so hopefully it will work out with you.

    Barred Rocks tend to be alphaish too [​IMG] my Ameraucana/Easter Egger is the lowest on the totem pole but luckily is best friends with my Barred Rock [​IMG]

    (If there is no blood or injuries, you are good. They will have to work out a pecking order and it can be loud and flappy lol)
     
  4. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Pecking order fracas is really distressing to us chicken lovin' folks.

    Pecking, feather pulling, flapping, squawking, chasing, all that is NORMAL. Some Meet & Greet separation (as described by Morgan) would have been a less stressful (on you) way to integrate a new bird into your flock.

    Unfortunately, the pecking order is a fact of nature and must be endured. If there's no blood-letting, it's going well. Honest. And it will settle down once everybody knows her own place in that pecking order.

    I was really distressed when my accidental roo started asserting himself as The Rooster, and the former flock leader - a pullet I loved and thought was just cool that she was highest in rank - had to submit to his leadership. Not necessarily to his sexual advances, just to Who's In Charge Around Here. That's the chicken way, as much as we humans may want to handle things differently.

    What's nifty is that she is now his favorite lady. He COURTS her for loving, and if she doesn't submit, he drops the subject. But he still loves her. They do such loving things like the rooster/hen kisses, napping together in the sun, strolling together side by side.

    But I digress. Unless there's injury, involving bleeding, eyes pecked out, or broken bones, pecking order establishment is ugly but necessary for flock dynamics.
     
  5. Sarahnl

    Sarahnl Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 23, 2010
    thank you for the advice/assurance. I figured it was just a matter of letting them adjust to each others presence but...egads! Can't we all just get along??? haha.

    There has been no bloodshed and it seems as though the little Barred Rock has chilled out on harassing the new hen. Though, my main concern is that it seems as though the Ameraucana just WILL NOT go inside the coop. She has been in the run since she'd been introduced. I'm fairly certain she slept out there, and I don't think she's gone in the coop at all today, even when the other hens are out scratching around the yard. The food and water are in the coop...do you think she'll just go in there when she's good and thirsty/hungry enough? Or should I attempt to go into the coop and try to coax her out of the run? The image in my head of me trying to do this is quite comical, and in reality I feel like it'd stress her out quite a bit...and make her want to go in the coop even less...if a big scary girl is in there trying to coax her in. It's hot outside today, and though there is plenty of shade in the run that doesn't solve the food/water necessity. I threw a handful of feed into the run for SOMETHING for her...but ugh.

    any ideas???
     
  6. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    Pick her up and put her in the coop in front of the food/water during the day. You could try locking her into the coop for about a week to teach her that it is her new home.
    At night you should be able to put her on the roosts at night without fuss. Then they will wake up together.

    Imp
     
  7. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Another thing I do when introducing new flock members is I PROVIDE a second feeder and waterer, so the newbies don't get blocked from eating and drinking by the established members of the flock. Also, I do the segregation/integration coop & run thing, so the newbies have their own stuff for a couple of weeks. And everybody gets to see, hear, smell and peck at through the wire fence practice. By the time I take down the temporary fence, and the new ones join the old ones, the old ones are like, "Oh, it's just YOU, not some stranger!"
     

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