Introducing New Hens to Established Flock ?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Whispering_Raven, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. Whispering_Raven

    Whispering_Raven Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 9, 2011
    Ashland City, TN
    I wish there were a sticky on this subject, because I think a lot of newcomers to the world of chickens ask this very question.

    I've posted this question in a couple of older forum threads in an attempt to resurrect it, but no dice. So, here goes....Posting new thread!

    I recently brought home two Black Ameraucanas. They are a couple of months younger than the small flock I have now, which consists of 4 RIRs, One is VERY BROODY but does not seem to mind the newbies. 3 Barred Rocks, 1 Hen and 2 Roos. They were straight run. WON'T do THAT again! [​IMG]

    Anyway, I've read in some of the older posts there seems to be a greater success rate of night time introductions. I have a farm, so my chickens are free range during the day on several acres and then cooped up at night in an electrified area.

    What I've been doing this past week is taking the Ameracaunas out to the coop area while the others are out foraging. The other day, the flock came home "early" and of course when I went to open the door to go in and get the other birds, the flock door dashed. Squealed and Squawked and growled and the the chase was on. On of my roosters caught one on the back of the neck, but not like a mating grab. She got away quickly and I was able to get them out fairly quick after that.

    I've been keeping them in a cozy box lined with grass clippings next to me at night because I wanted them to get used to their names and the sound of my voice so they will come to me when I call them.

    My questions is this....Can I still set them on the roost at night with the other guys and gals since they've all actually seen each other? Or will that create a war in the morning before I let them out? I usually lock them up right at dark and let them out around 6:45am - 7:00am.

    Any thoughts and guidance would be GREATLY appreciated! Thanks in advance!

    Tracy
     
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I've never tried the night-time routine, but some say it works.
    I free range too (field fence around our few acres), and I've always kept newbies nearby in a fenced in area (even if it's just a circle of chicken wire) with their own shelter for several weeks, just so everyone got use to seeing one another. Once the newbies know where "home" is (even if it's just temporary shelter like a doghouse w/a door), I let everyone out to free range together - newbies tend to stick close to home for the first several days. But eventually they will freerange somewhat together (usually in two bands - originals and newbies). I don't integrate into the same coop until/unless I can be there EARLY to supervise things... Good luck with whatever you try! It's always stressful...lol.
     
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

  4. Whispering_Raven

    Whispering_Raven Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 9, 2011
    Ashland City, TN
    Ok....The strangest thing happened shortly after I posted this...

    I put Brannagh and Willow in the coop in the morning, and this time I left the door open. I took Brannagh first since she is the more dominant of the two. I put her outside the coop, and she seems quite comfortable. She was walking around, cautiously, but walking around. I went inside to get Willow and brought her out and set her outside. Within moments they both ran into the coop.

    Later, I went outside to get the new hens to bring them back in the house, as it was about storm, and I knew the others would be back soon because of the inclement weather coming. To my surprise, when I went to the coop, EVERYONE was there together. Everyone was eating together, no fighting...a few growls and squawks but nothing more. I decided to take a chance and left them in the coop all night. Lo and Behold, this morning all is well! [​IMG]

    Now, Brannagh and Willow didn't come out of the coop to roam with the others, but I am THRILLED that everyone "seems" to be getting along. [​IMG]

    Blessings to all!

    Tracy
     
  5. Annie's Backyard Flock

    Annie's Backyard Flock Out Of The Brooder

    Tracy,
    I am so glad things worked out. I am in the process of doing the same thing. I have 6 - 6month old hens of various breeds. I adopted 2 Turkens that are 4 months old. I quarantined them; then let them free range together. I introduced them at night, as many have done. However, I have one hen, Spice, a red star, that just won't let up chasing them. I usually keep the girls in the 300 sq.ft. run until noon to make sure that they don't lay eggs in places other than the nesting boxes. So right now, the 2 Turkens are over in the corner just because of one hen. The actual dominant hen is fine with the others, it's the 2nd in charge that is not. I'm hoping that mine turn around as fast as yours. Keep your fingers crossed.

    Anne
     
  6. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Having a facility, a second cage or a something in the garage, for times such as this, is important. Pull the offending Red out for a week. When she gets re-introduced, she'll have much less sense of authority.
     
  7. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Anne - it's my second in command that's the bully too. Maybe many lead hens feel confident and therefore don't assume any newbies are a threat, but the 2nd in commands worry about being overthrown??? lol I agree with Fred'sHens - isolate your bully for about 2 days and then put her back in to see if that makes a difference.

    OP - Yayyyy! Glad to hear your integration is going so well [​IMG]
     
  8. terryg

    terryg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 5, 2007
    New England
    It's great that everything sorted out nicely with your girls!
    I've done the nighttime put everyone together and it's worked. And I've done it and it hasn't. It tends to work when you have a small flock of mellow, older hens and you're introducing a full-grown hen to the flock. I wouldn't try it with Polish (those top-knots are like red capes to a bull) or immature birds or adding bantams to a standard flock. I have a FAQ about introducing new hens here:
    http://www.hencam.com/henblog/introducing-new-hens/
    and a post with photos here:
    http://www.hencam.com/henblog/2011/03/combining-two-mature-flocks/

    BTW, I've also had success isolating a bully for a few days and returning her.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2011
  9. Annie's Backyard Flock

    Annie's Backyard Flock Out Of The Brooder

    Well, here's an update on the chicken husbandry saga: The Turkens were put in the hen house on Wednesday night around midnight. I disconnected the light that goes on at around 5am. I went out at the crack of dawn and opened the pop door. The original flock went out into the large yard. I found the Turkens huddled together in a nesting box. I then opened the other door and the Turkens were "encouraged" to go into the run. After a few hours, I let everyone mingle again in the Big Yard.

    Dusk fell and I went to make sure everyone was settled. I found one Turken roosting on the window sill and the other in the nesting box. I took both of them and put them back on the roosting poles. I plugged the light back in and secured all doors. I went to bed.

    This morning, I went out to collect eggs. I noticed that one box was on the coop floor. I had 2 girls in the other boxes, so I closed the hatch and went around to the main door to pick up the box. The Turkens were on the roost. I gave the girls their privacy and came back to the coop in about 20 minutes. This time I opened the box door and what I saw took my breath away. The inside of the box area looked like someone was masacred. There was blood on the walls, door, ceiling. I scooped up both Turkens and brought them inside. To my horror, one had a huge chunk out of her neck, the other had peck marks and missing feathers. I washed and sanitized the wounds. Took the Turkens to a safe part of the yard and let them free range.

    I'm now left with a dilemma. I was going to separate out the RSL as stated above, but the Turkens have open sores on them I don't want to encourage the others to peck. So now, do I separate the Turkens until they heal then take the RSL out for 2 days? or do I just take the RSL out and see if she was the only one causing trouble? I have 2 RSL, 2 Cuckoo Marans, and 2 Barred Rocks. The one Cuckoo is the leader and she seems ok with them. The others have shown NO interest in the Turkens.

    Any thoughts?

    P.S. I have a cage and area to put either hens in. Separating them is not an issue.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2011
  10. Elbowmarie

    Elbowmarie Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 21, 2011
    The 'burg
    I'm picking up my second hen today- all of this has been helpful... and now terrifying!
     

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