Introducing new hens to a flock with one bird being aggressive

TayRae

In the Brooder
May 25, 2018
14
6
16
Hello all,

I am newish to the chicken community and I have a really small flock and I'm having some trouble with introductions and I would like some advice.

A year-and-a-half ago I endedI ended up gettinggetting a rescue chicken... Long story but I ended up having to get her two companions. When I introduced those hands to my rescue chicken there was really no trouble there was a little scrubbing the first day I I introduced them but I put them together in the evening within a day they're all good friends. No blood was ever drawn no one was super aggressive I was surprised at how easy it was, to be honest.

My small flock got even smaller when my oldest rescue passed this spring. To abide by bylaws of my city I need a minimum of three chickens so I went out and bought two new young hens because I know you can't introduce one chicken to a flock. I got two chicks quite young at about 3 to 6 weeks of age. One of my pullets is about 6 weeks now and the other about 12 weeks. I've had all of them separated by a wire mesh fence for a few weeks now so they could see each other but not interact. Nobody seemed to be aggressive in the fence so I decided to start introductions. I'm having one hen, my dominant lady, being super aggressive to the two new hens and she keeps drawing blood. When blood is drawn I separate the two youngsters and start the process over again when the wounds are closed.

They are different breeds. The dominant hen is a light Sussex. Her companion is a Rhode Island red, who she is showing no aggression whatsoever to the two newcomers. The youngest is a golden salmon Maran and she is about 8 weeks and she hasnt gotten hurt because she's able to dodge the Sussex a little bit better because she's a bit smaller. The 12-week old is a bielefelder and she's getting the worst of it. Today I was able to have them together for about an hour and a bit but then the Sussex just got crazy and tore a big hole in the comb that poor little hen.

I know distractions are key so I've changed up there run put in lots of treats have a hanging cauliflower put in new stumps and things for them to jump on but nothing seems to work.

I have the youngsters separated again but now my Sussex is just acting quite aggressive around the entire coop and run. She's running around trying to chase the pullets even though they're seperate.

I would love to have them free range but I can't because it's a violation of my cities by law. My light Sussex seems to be getting more aggressive with introductions instead of less aggressive. I'm not sure how to fix this problem and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

My run is a 12 by 8 space well my coop is about 4 by 4.5 space. I haven't combined them in the coop because it's way too small of a space and someone would get really hurt.

Thank you for taking the time to read this long post and I look forward to all of your advice!
 

tanyabee

Songster
Jul 7, 2018
111
176
106
Northern Wisconsin
Well we have a super similar situation. We are allowed 4 hens in an urban coop. Here is how we deal with our bully hen, which I know others will possibly frown upon, but it totally has worked. This hen was a bully day after day to a certain other hen, and one day my 8 year old son was walking by with his squirt gun. My husband asked him for it and sat there, and gave the bully hen a shot each time she pecked the other hen. The hen stopped and ran away, thinking the other hen did it. She still chases once in awhile but holy moly has it helped! We keep the squirt gun over by the run and if we catch the bullying, we give her a shot.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
Nov 12, 2009
8,496
9,903
616
western South Dakota
Sometimes pulling out the mean hen will help the others bond a bit, then several days to weeks later add the bully back in, she will be the stranger, and may take some thumps. Sometimes it works.

You said you have stuff in the run, but do you have hide outs? Places where birds can not be seen by another bird. When you have two birds meet, one is on top and one is below. The submissive bird is suppose to give way to higher bird. I have seen birds give way, run and hide, and a few moments later be standing right beside the queen. I call it curtseying to the queen.

In some runs, especially smaller runs, even when the lower bird moves away, she is still in sight, and some aggressive birds take offense to that. This bird is NOT leaving. And they become more and more aggressive to prove their point. They do not recognize that there is no where to get out of sight. They take it as the bird is challenging them.

When you make hideouts, it is good to make sure that there are two exits. So as not to create a trap. Getting up on top of something, or down underneath something. Little mini walls, were a feed dish can be set, out of sight of others eating somewhere else will help.

Mrs K
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
88,065
106,840
1,737
SW Michigan
My Coop
Sometimes pulling out the mean hen will help the others bond a bit, then several days to weeks later add the bully back in, she will be the stranger, and may take some thumps. Sometimes it works.
I would try this first.
Then maybe mix and match who is in main run and who is in the adjacent run.
I thin you have an adjacent space, where the chicks spent a few weeks?
Pics would of your setup might help us help you.

....here's some of my run set up for integrating chicks, more pics in album if you click on pic and use the arrows.
 

TayRae

In the Brooder
May 25, 2018
14
6
16
Sometimes pulling out the mean hen will help the others bond a bit, then several days to weeks later add the bully back in, she will be the stranger, and may take some thumps. Sometimes it works.

You said you have stuff in the run, but do you have hide outs? Places where birds can not be seen by another bird. When you have two birds meet, one is on top and one is below. The submissive bird is suppose to give way to higher bird. I have seen birds give way, run and hide, and a few moments later be standing right beside the queen. I call it curtseying to the queen.

In some runs, especially smaller runs, even when the lower bird moves away, she is still in sight, and some aggressive birds take offense to that. This bird is NOT leaving. And they become more and more aggressive to prove their point. They do not recognize that there is no where to get out of sight. They take it as the bird is challenging them.

When you make hideouts, it is good to make sure that there are two exits. So as not to create a trap. Getting up on top of something, or down underneath something. Little mini walls, were a feed dish can be set, out of sight of others eating somewhere else will help.

Mrs K
Hello I have plenty of hideouts... I put a closed dog crate inside the Run so this creates a barrier. I also have stumps and milk crates. The only space where they're modeling closed is in the coop which I have opened the whole side so so there are two entrances and exits. The only dangerous spot I would say is underneath the coop because of how the coupe's legs are they can go underneath the coop in the Run however they only have a 4-foot space to pass each other. That is where there dust bath is. I did separate the bully however she started to panic and run into things trying to get back to the one chicken that was a part of her flock. I willI will try adding in additional nooks and crannies. Thank you for the advice I will take it all into account and post updates.
 

TayRae

In the Brooder
May 25, 2018
14
6
16
Hello all,

I am newish to the chicken community and I have a really small flock and I'm having some trouble with introductions and I would like some advice.

A year-and-a-half ago I endedI ended up gettinggetting a rescue chicken... Long story but I ended up having to get her two companions. When I introduced those hands to my rescue chicken there was really no trouble there was a little scrubbing the first day I I introduced them but I put them together in the evening within a day they're all good friends. No blood was ever drawn no one was super aggressive I was surprised at how easy it was, to be honest.

My small flock got even smaller when my oldest rescue passed this spring. To abide by bylaws of my city I need a minimum of three chickens so I went out and bought two new young hens because I know you can't introduce one chicken to a flock. I got two chicks quite young at about 3 to 6 weeks of age. One of my pullets is about 6 weeks now and the other about 12 weeks. I've had all of them separated by a wire mesh fence for a few weeks now so they could see each other but not interact. Nobody seemed to be aggressive in the fence so I decided to start introductions. I'm having one hen, my dominant lady, being super aggressive to the two new hens and she keeps drawing blood. When blood is drawn I separate the two youngsters and start the process over again when the wounds are closed.

They are different breeds. The dominant hen is a light Sussex. Her companion is a Rhode Island red, who she is showing no aggression whatsoever to the two newcomers. The youngest is a golden salmon Maran and she is about 8 weeks and she hasnt gotten hurt because she's able to dodge the Sussex a little bit better because she's a bit smaller. The 12-week old is a bielefelder and she's getting the worst of it. Today I was able to have them together for about an hour and a bit but then the Sussex just got crazy and tore a big hole in the comb that poor little hen.

I know distractions are key so I've changed up there run put in lots of treats have a hanging cauliflower put in new stumps and things for them to jump on but nothing seems to work.

I have the youngsters separated again but now my Sussex is just acting quite aggressive around the entire coop and run. She's running around trying to chase the pullets even though they're seperate.

I would love to have them free range but I can't because it's a violation of my cities by law. My light Sussex seems to be getting more aggressive with introductions instead of less aggressive. I'm not sure how to fix this problem and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

My run is a 12 by 8 space well my coop is about 4 by 4.5 space. I haven't combined them in the coop because it's way too small of a space and someone would get really hurt.

Thank you for taking the time to read this long post and I look forward to all of your advice!
Here are some pics. Can't see my adjacent run in these pictures.
 

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