Keeping new hens safe - need advice from experts!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sjmjrgkmg, Jul 11, 2011.

  1. sjmjrgkmg

    sjmjrgkmg Out Of The Brooder

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    May 10, 2009
    Hi all,
    We introduced two new 1 y.o. hens to our mini-flock and, naturally, much pecking has ensued. I made a temporary run for them which they stayed in during the day for about 3 weeks and put them in a dog crate in the shed at night. For the past week they have free-ranged together and while our two sedate White Rocks will peck them if they go too near, our Golden Comet (who was herself the picked-on newbie to the flock last year) actually chases them and tries to pull feathers out of their wings. I'd be happy to continue the watchful waiting, only we're leaving tomorrow for a 4 day family camping trip. So for the past couple of days I have put them into the coop. It hasn't gone very well - the new ones huddle inside while the older ones are in the run. I provided a "shield" of leafy branches for them to hide in but the Comet just ran right in to pursue. We have a young neighbor who chicken-sits for us. I don't want her to have to figure out what to do if the pecking gets more severe, if blood is drawn or if the new hens just can't leave the coop for four days.
    My options are:
    1. Keep the new hens in with the old ones and hope for the best.
    2. Move them back into the temporary run with some kind of rough shelter in case of rain (like a little platform) and have the chicken-sitter just keep them in there at night, as she can't pick them up and put them in the dog crate as I did. I am a little concerned about how predator proof the run is as we had two young pullets eaten by a raccoon not long ago. The raccoon is likely dead, but others could come.
    I have 24 hours to figure out a solution. Any ideas from the group would be gratefully received!
    Sue
     
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Well if your run is not predator proof - sturdy wire all around, including the roof/ceiling, I would not attempt leaving them outside at night w/the temp. shelter.

    Depending on how hot it gets inside your coop, you might consider a large dog pen or wiring off a section inside (and wire on top so she can't fly out) for the bully hen. She wouldn't be happy, but as long as she had ample food/water, she would be okay. Or if it gets really hot inside the coop, put her in a bathroom in the house for a few days (w/food/water of course). Yeah, it'd be some cleanup on your part when you get home, but you'd know everyone was safe, and maybe she'd have a better attitude when reintroduced when you get back. It also might give the less aggressive birds a chance to adapt to the newbies.
    Do make sure that there are more than one feeder/waterer available anytime you introduce new birds, so that they have a good chance of eating/drinking without being terrorized. Good luck!
     
  3. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    I think you've just really gotta let them sort out that pecking order, so my vote would be to just put them in together. I know it can seem rough, but they will be OK. They just need time to be together full time, to get things sorted out.

    I've added new members to my flock many times, and it's always a bit violent, but it all works out in the end. I have just one rule, and that is, they have to be almost the same size to integrate, so no babies with adults.

    Take care, and good luck,
    Sharon
     

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