Introduction Issue - Severe Pecking At Newcomers

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by gfletch, Nov 8, 2011.

  1. gfletch

    gfletch In the Brooder

    Sep 2, 2011
    Long Island, NY
    Hey, all.

    I introduced two new 2-month-old Barred Rock hens to my flock of four 6-month-old Japanese Bantams. Followed the instructions and advice in other threads as closely as possible -- I let them all get acquainted by putting the new ones in their container next to the coop for the weekend, so they could see each other and get used to each other while still separate. Then, late in the day yesterday as they were all getting ready to head into the coop to roost, I put them together. There was some pecking and uproar, but nothing terribly serious. This morning, though, one of my JB hens has been brutally savage to the new ones -- ripping out feathers and chunks of skin from both of them. I know, generally, you're not supposed to intervene, and they have to work it out among themselves, but this was to the point where I had to remove them or they'd end up dead. (I also put some petroleum jelly on the wounds -- hope that was the right decision. Any other advice there?)

    I thought one of the two roosters would help keep things in line, but the hen is apparently so aggressive they did nothing. I got the JB's when they were about three months old, and I hadn't noticed this behavior in her before.

    So, now what do I do? With the amount of space and materials I have, it's just not realistic to keep two separate coops. I have to put them together. But with the two younger ones weakened and injured, I'm not sure how to proceed. Does the aggressive hen need to be separated temporarily (or removed permanently)?

    I have to get this solved and get everyone together and calm before Thanksgiving week. (I'm going away and a neighbor will be looking in on the birds, and I'm sure they don't want to be dealing with a chicken war while I'm away!)


  2. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    OK- First you are going to need to separate the newbies until they are healed. You can use a product called Blukote on the wounds to help mask them, but they will need to be either healed or the wounds will need to be disguised in order for integrations to work. Once the wounds are fixed then I would try to integrate again, but I would remove the bird that is damaging the newbies. Keep her separate until the new birds are integrated and then allow her back into the flock. She will be the new bird at that point and will be too busy defending herself to pick fights with the others.

    I am not sure how quickly this will be able to be achieved because unfortunately chickens have their own time frames. I use slow integration techniques to ensure that no one bird gets injured, so my integrations typically take a month or more. Two weeks of see and be seen without physical interaction, followed by a couple weeks of supervised free-range for all the birds but maintaining separate living quarters, and then finished with moving all the birds into the same living space. Any squabbles are usually worked out in the free range time. They can interact, but also run and hide if needed. I think you are trying to rush the process which doesn't work so well if you have strong willed birds.

    Here's a great write up on integration in case you haven't seen it:

    Sorry you are having to deal with this. Integrations can be quite challenging at the best of times, and when you are dealing with a time crunch then the pressure is much greater. I hope it is resolved soon.

    Good luck.
  3. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Free Ranging 7 Years

    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    I agree with the above, the little ones should be taken back out until healed. 8 weeks may be a little young to mix with older and larger chickens. I have a wire cage that I set up inside the coop, and keep new birds in there for 3-4 days. Then I go in after dark and put them on a perch.

    The mean hen may continue to be a problem, just like with people some are just bulllies.
  4. gfletch

    gfletch In the Brooder

    Sep 2, 2011
    Long Island, NY
    Thanks for the advice. Guess I did some things right, and some not-so-right. I'll keep the young Barred Rocks in their separate crate for another month or so, til they're fully healed and larger (though, at two months, they are not too far off the size of the full-grown Japanese Bantams). And when I do put them back in, I will separate out the super aggressive hen for a week or so, and she'll be the one who has to learn to fit in and will, hopefully, leave everyone else alone. I had no idea this whole chicken thing would be so stressful ... for them and me!

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