Major Newbie problems... Please Help

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by kayschicks45, Jun 11, 2016.

  1. kayschicks45

    kayschicks45 New Egg

    Jun 11, 2016
    I'll admit I rushed into this.... so please spare me the "you should have known better" I've already experienced the heartbreak.

    That said, Please help me and my flock. :(

    The set up:
    a 4x8x8 coup with 10 nesting boxes. Lots of room, with access to an outdoor 10x10x10 enclosed pen. Town ordinance says no free ranging with our current zone.

    11 red sexlinks - i was told when i bought them they were 3-4 weeks from starting to lay. that was 7 weeks ago. lots of trauma and stress so no idea if i was lied to about age or not, but alas no eggs.

    1 Brama Rooster - younger, approx 15-20 weeks old when i got him. feathers have not fully come in and still peeps.

    I started out like a fireball, i got 12 sex links, 6 RI reds (year - year and a half old), and 3 brahmas (2 roosters, 1 maybe hen maybe rooster) I was told, from an experienced chicken keeper, they'll be find just throw everyone in together at dark.

    Day 1 - sex links seemed to protect the brahmas and the reds preferred to be outside while everyone else inside.
    Day 2 - one dead brahma rooster :( no obvious wounds. ok maybe a fluke? stress? idk (I was stupid)
    Day 3 - another dead brahma - my maybe hen/maybe rooster, this is the one that killed me to loose
    Day 3 - third brahma severely wounded, trip to the vet, stitched, and put in quarantine for 2 weeks while wound healed.
    Day 4-5 - five sex links had backs of heads pecked to dangerous varying degrees of wounds. Enough is enough must be the reds (phone call ensued of dude come get your hens, they're killing everyone) Everyone was tended to and is healing nicely.

    Fast forward - rookie mistake of dog too close to pen resulted in loss of another sex link. :(

    3 weeks from original introduction - reds gone, no further injuries, everyone healing well and Rocky (as in Balboa cuz the little guy is a fighter) has stitches out and seems very content to be out of his dog kennel.

    Attempted re-introduction via crate for several days, seemed ok, let him out and he was cornered and getting his butt picked clean.... Back in the crate.

    second re-intro, put him in at dark and in morning same result as before (hubby kinda freaked and put in back in crate without consulting w/ me)

    third re-intro, again at night, morning led to me finding him bruised and bloody and a little featherless. This was this morning. currently he is in the run outside and the girls are locked in the coop.

    Not sure what I need to do from here. I've somewhat bonded with Rocky after all he's been through. And I really want a roo in the flock so we can hatch our own family.

  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs I Wanna Be A Cowboy Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    You definitely need to separate new birds with a wire fence. They should be able to see each other. I would keep your rooster penned for a while where the hens can get used to him and become familiar with him before trying to let him out, you might have to separate him and let him out over the course of a few days to weeks before he's accepted.

    Chickens are territorial and don't like strangers, so putting birds together that weren't raised together takes time.

    Your set up is pretty small for anything more than 6 adults, and that might be tight. You don't need that many nestboxes so if removing some gives you more room that is what I would do. You may have some behavior problems in the future, but hopefully your hens behave themselves. I wouldn't keep a rooster as that might stress the hens more unless he's gentle, and you might look to adding on to your run eventually as chickens get bored pretty quickly and that's when troubles happens.

    Those are my suggestions. We all start somewhere and make some mistakes, I certainly made plenty.

    There can be an initial steep learning curve with chickens, but once you understand their needs both physically and mentally it is fairly easy. Welcome to the hobby. If you have any questions there's plenty of people willing to try to help. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    What she said^^^^

    Definitely too many birds (33?)'ll either need to build another much bigger coop and run or get rid of most of your birds.
    I would suggest not having a cockbird in that small of a space.....and there's separate learning curve for keeping males.
    6 hens in that setup will be a happy egg making crew.
    I'd keep the younger birds and give the older ones back to the 'experienced chicken keeper'.

    What is your climate? Putting your location in your profile can help folks give better answers/suggestions.
    Oh... and..... Welcome to BYC!!
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2016
  4. 99Violets

    99Violets Out Of The Brooder

    May 11, 2016
    I agree with all the above.

    My solutiom to adding new birds:
    I bought a $10 rabbit cage (a medium or large dog crate can also be used) to introduce new birds to my flock. The newbies stay inside all the time with food and water. When I go into the pen, I let them out and stay close. When the chickens approach, I step in between after a peck or two and/or pick the newbie up. This is what a momma hen would do - protect them. I do this in the morning and the evening, as time permits, until everyone calms down. The newbies stay close to me when I let them out because they know I'll keep them safe.

    FYI: Newbies aren't accepted immediately. Adding them to the COOP at night only works once they are known by the flock. This is commonly misunderstood.

    I recommend keeping only 2-4 hens right now. (Find a foster instead of killing or selling.) Let them become a small, happy flock. All of your chickens are stressed and unhappy. Cutting your losses now will at least give a few of your birds a better quality of life. And then if you want a larger flock and have made more room and better sleeping arrangements, add 1 or 2 at a time slowly. This will also give you a chance to learn how to care for them.
  5. kayschicks45

    kayschicks45 New Egg

    Jun 11, 2016
    21 was my inital total. The six big birds are gone now, one bird was killed by dog and 2 of the babies dead. I'm confused. My coup is bigger than the ones most of my friends have and they have double (some triple) the amount of birds I have. So I'm not sure how the size is an issue.
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Because crowding can cause aggression, especially with birds that are new to one another when integrating more birds.
    Not sure why your friends aren't having any problems...maybe they have bigger runs.....or free range their birds?
    When you took the injured bird(s?) out of the flock then put them back in after even a few days they can become 'strangers' or new birds as far as the flock is concerned.
    Chicken society can be complicated, it's territorial and hierarchical...and chickens can be vicious, as you've witnessed.

    Maybe I added the 11 red sexlinks to the 12 sexlinks when I came up with 33......different numbers, so I figured different group of birds.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2016
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    I agree with what all of the other posters have said. In that size set up I would definitely NOT have a rooster, and would only put 6 (at the very most) hens in there. IMO, you need much more room to safely house a rooster. Are the nest boxes part of the 4 x 8 footprint, or are they outside this footprint? Generally, you need a MINIMUM of 4 s.f. in coop and 10 s.f. in run per bird. But, the smaller the flock, and the smaller the coop, the more extra room you should allow. For the simple reason that in a 4 x 8 coop, at the very most, one hen (even if there are 8 birds) can only get 8' away from a bird who is out to get her. In a flock of 30 birds, with the same s.f. ratio, that one hen can get 12' away from her aggressor. Also, feed and water will take up far less of the total foot print in the larger set up.

    As far as your friends who have double or triple the number of birds ? in the same size set up... I wonder how honest they are being? How often do they have deaths or injuries? And how much free range time do their flocks get?
  8. YIKES!
    Someone really misinformed you on Chickens.
    Take six paces back... Gather all the hens you have left and put into the coop.
    Ones only that came together....
    Collect the other group and house in something else .
    Roosters put with the hens they came with.
    Start all over....
    Chickens have a pecking order and will kill each other.
    All roosters get rid of...Your not ready for that yet.

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