Introducing New Peeps, Please Help Me With This!!!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by LeghornLisa, Jul 29, 2010.

  1. LeghornLisa

    LeghornLisa Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 9, 2009
    I started out last May with 6 baby chicks for the purpose of getting some fresh eggs. 2 of them were roos and went to a new home. The remaining 4 were living in harmony in a coop my husband built, all was well but they seem to always be broody and we were not getting the eggs we hoped for. I ordered 4 more peeps to arrive in March and my husband decides to build a larger coop to accomodate everyone in a different part of the yard and use the old coop as a garden shed. The plan was to have this done by the time the new girls were out of the brooder. Well, that didn't happen and I kept them in a huge dog crate until the coop was finished. Of course one of them turned out to be a roo, very friendly but still a roo, so we make him a separate area and run within the new coop. This past Saturday was the big move-in day for everyone. I began by putting the huge dog crate with my 3 little girls in first then I moved over the big girls one by one. Next I put Mr. Bubbles in his new Hugh Hefner pad, he can see the girls but he is on the otherside of the chicken wire. Everyone was fine but my white Cochin "Sugarsnap"...she attacked Mr. Bubbles through the wire and tore his comb. He is fine but afraid to go back out in his run where this all went down. Now she just paces around the dog crate and bites whatever she can get from my 3 little girls. Yesterday I held Sugarsnap and opened the crate to let the little girls out, one of them stepped out for a minute then ran back in after one of the big girls pecked her. I know they have to establish their pecking order but I am fearful of what Sugarsnap will do to them. They are only 21 weeks old and so much smaller than her. Mr. Bubbles is her equal in size and she made him bleed! Is this normal behavior? I am new at this and just want to know the best way to deal with this. Should I keep them in the crate until they are the same size as the big girls? One of the little girls layed her first egg yesterday in the crate! Should I take them out and put Sugarsnap in the crate for a bit?
     
  2. midget_farms

    midget_farms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2008
    Dunlap Illinois
    As you are learning an existing flock of chickens will kill intruders.

    There are 2 techniques you can use to introduce new birds to a flock. Your birds are of the right age - if they are too young they are more vulnerable.

    In either technique there will be some fighting - & lots of pecking - but the new birds quickly learn to run when the bigger girls give them the evil eye. This keeps them mostly safe & they don't get hurt.

    Technique 1 - Build a second run side by side with the existing one & have the birds live next to each other for several weeks - but not have access - except through the fence. That will be close enough for them to establish a pecking order, but not close enough for someone to get severely hurt. Personally I don't have the space or equipment to use this technique. I use technique 2.

    Technique 2 - Chickens can't count. If they wake up in the morning & there are more chickens than when they went to bed - they assume the other birds have always been there & accept them into the flock. Sneak out after dark - say 10 pm when everyone is asleep on the perch & quietly add the new hens. That's it. Nothing else to do. ** They will establish a new pecking order & that includes some tough hits every now & then. But they shouldn't kill each other. In fact they shouldn't even bloody each other. Just a good peck on the head every now & then.

    I've used #2 several times with only 1 failure - I have some white crested polish hens. The feathers on their heads prevent them from seeing. The poor birds couldn't see the older hens coming until it was too late & they took quite a beating. The other hens would run & rarely if ever get pecked. I eventually moved the polish to their own coop & run in another part of the property. This was a rare exception because of the type of bird I tried to introduce. Normal hens will not have this issue.

    Good Luck - Just remember to let them work it out - as soon as they establish the pecking order everything is calm & all will be well.
     
  3. Mrs. Feathers

    Mrs. Feathers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 2, 2010
    If Sugarsnap is your Head Hen she is probably knowing that Mr. Bubbles is a threat to her power and control. Is there a reason you are keeping him apart from the gals? I agree with midgetfarms that once they settle in together life will settle. It might settle things further to have Mr. Bubbles with the ladies so he can take on his roo role, especially if he is a nice roo.
    I don`t like the whole pecking order process....my last hatch just went through it within themselves and I know we`ll have it again when they are introduced to the flock in a few weeks.
     
  4. LeghornLisa

    LeghornLisa Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 9, 2009
    Thank you, I really have no idea what I am doing. The reason Mr. Bubbles is separated from the girls is because I though it was the best solution for everyone. I am not even supposed to have a rooster, didn't want a rooster, didn't order one but apparently the sexer at McMurray Hatchery was asleep at the wheel and I get very attached to my peeps so re-homing is not something I want to entertain, only as a last resort. Anyway, the last rooster I had did a number on my girls, I was always putting liquid band aid on one of them. He also became very protective of the hens and would attack my daughters if they went in the coop. I don't free range so they can only go so far to get away from each other.

    I have had the little girls in the crate, in the coop with the big girls since Saturday...5 days. Would this be the same as making a separate area for them? They see each other and have been waking up to each other....should I take the crate out when it is dark and try to sit them on the roost with the big girls? They still play pig pile on each other at night to sleep...
     
  5. Mrs. Feathers

    Mrs. Feathers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 2, 2010
    I go along with the rooster thing here because my hubby likes to do the meat birds so I get you on that. Our brooder pen is in the coop but it is elevated so they can hear each other but not see each other (except for the little BA roo who sits on top of thier feeder checking out the big guys). The way you have done it sounds like a good way to hear, see and smell each other.
    I think introducing them at night sounds like the best plan. I am going to try that this time, we tend to have bigger turnovers (10-15 birds usually) so I have always done the "getting to know one another through the fence" thing. Hopefully my birds have really bad counting skills (kind of like my chicken math) or won`t recognize that the ones on the freezer camp bus have been replaced.
    I would like to hear how it works for you. I have about 4 weeks before it is time for turnover here.
     
  6. midget_farms

    midget_farms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2008
    Dunlap Illinois
    Lisa - Its up to you on the rooster. There are ways to calm him down though to make sure he knows who to be nice to.

    You have done the right thing in having them close. You are ready to sneak them in at night now. Being young they may not roost for another couple of months but this is OK. Let them pile in the corner at night & they will grow into it.

    Now - as for that rooster. They are pretty cocky you know - so it is best that he knows right now that you are the boss. The only sure fire way to do this is to make him submit to you & your children regularly. By that I mean - you need to catch him & hold him upside down by his feet until he is calm. might take a bit the first couple of times. But in no time at all he will know when he sees you or your family not to mess around.

    Good luck.
     

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