Introducing new hens to the flock

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by james w, Feb 17, 2008.

  1. james w

    james w In the Brooder

    Nov 6, 2007
    Lucca, Italy

    Against the explicit instructions provided in my Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, and much against my own intuition, I accepted two young hens from a friend that was no longer able to take care of them. I am now left with a single hen since the other I found dead this afternoon. A family member close-by said that she saw a group of hens and the cock attacking the hen.

    I can certainly understand that a bit of fighting goes on when introducing new hens but the death has left me feeling a little perplexed.

    In any case, is there a method for assimilating new hens into a flock, perhaps by isolating the hens with the cock for a few days or with the hens without the cock?

  2. HenHaven

    HenHaven Songster

    Mar 3, 2007
    Coarsegold, CA
    I'm sorry to hear you lost your hen. There is a whole process to introducing new chickens into a flock. You may want to do a search to read up on quarantining, which is recommended for any new stock you add in from somewhere else.

    After the quarantine period, many people introduce the new members of the flock by letting the birds see each other without being able to have physical contact. At that point, it is up to you to determine how long to continue that phase by watching their behavior, and waiting until their interactions through the barrier go from hostile to neutral. (This is usually over a period of many days--especially since your flock has shown aggression toward a newbie).

    Once you have done that, it will depend on your situation. I introduce during the daytime free ranging hours to see how things go. Others put them in at night after everyone has gone to roost. Beware the next morning will be a critical time to see how things are going--once everyone is awake.

    It has always worked out eventually, for me at least, but each time it is a little different, and I end up playing it by ear, in that last phase. I hope this helps a little~good luck. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2008
  3. JackieK318

    JackieK318 Songster

    Apr 29, 2007
    Don't let speckled hen know that the new ones weren't quarantined! Always quarantine for at least 30 days to observe. The one could have had a disease. You'd hate to risk the rest of your feathered friends. Try a dog crate in the garage and a designated fenced in run out of your other chickens' territory.

    There is no exact science to it. I have only accepted adult chickens twice from people. Once from the Humane Society, where I quarantined for 3 weeks, and another from a fellow board member.

    Always observe their feathers for lice, feet for cuts or bumps, runny poops or bloody poops (the first few may be runny from nerves or stress), skin for mites, combs and waddles for spots, eyes for cloudiness, etc. Don't just assume that the bird is healthy within a few days of observing. Coccidia can lay dormant in the bird gut for up to 6 weeks.

    I typically put my chicks in the outdoor brooder for a few weeks before putting them in with the rest of the flock. This way, everyone can check each other out and the babies get an idea of the pecking order. Black Hen is amazing though. She loves every new chicken and will fight anyone who goes against them. She must be my chicken mediator.
  4. james w

    james w In the Brooder

    Nov 6, 2007
    Lucca, Italy
    Thanks for all the great suggestions. Let's hope black #2 fairs a little better. And yes, I always make a thorough check of all my birds, even chicks that I hatched myself, before moving in new guests. I don't really have the set up for a quarantine, as my flock is free-roaming and only get closed in at night. I guess I will have to get busy and put together a fenced area so that I can quarantine.

    Thanks again for the help.
  5. SillyChick

    SillyChick Songster

    Dec 15, 2007
    Thank you for caring for the chicken! Very sorry about the other one. HenHaven and JakieK138 got the answers in good detail(Excellent! Thanks!).

    Good luck! [​IMG]

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