My First Chicken Gets Her First Friend! How do I ensure it goes smoothly?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by GottaHatchAPlan, May 4, 2018.

  1. GottaHatchAPlan

    GottaHatchAPlan Chirping

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    It's finally happening.
    Our Peggy is finally well enough to get another hen to keep her company.
    We first bought our little 7-month old Australorp a little over a month ago. As it turns out, she was in pretty bad shape; she was stressed, lice-ridden and suffering coryza*, and that was just the start. We decided to wait until she was better before adding any more chickens.
    Now Peggy's healthy enough for company. Mum's found a trustworthy breeder willing to give us a hen; we're thinking an Orpington girl of about the same age.

    What should we do to ensure things go smoothly? Is there anything we can do to ensure they bond quickly?

    *There's a good chance Peggy will be spreading coryza to the new girl. Coryza, while maintainable (with fairly mild symptoms), is chronic and can't be cured. As such, we've decided to keep our flock small and closed, using them solely for the eggs and no trading/shows/etc. We've already prepared the medicine for the new chicken and are prepared to nurse her back to health as she gets over the worst of it.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2018

  2. SueT

    SueT Crowing

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    Make a temporary see-no-touch setup so they can get acquainted thru a divider, and monitor reactions....
    Good luck!
     
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  3. GottaHatchAPlan

    GottaHatchAPlan Chirping

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    Thank you, that seems like a good idea! We can stick one in the run and let the other free-range the yard...
    How do you think free-ranging them both in the backyard would go? Would they seek each other out and fight or would they let each other be?
     
  4. SueT

    SueT Crowing

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    I don't know. Give them some time separated and monitor reactions.... but I feel good about this working out.
     
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  5. GottaHatchAPlan

    GottaHatchAPlan Chirping

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    Will do. Thanks for the advice!
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member 5 Years

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    Tho integrating single to single is has some different aspects,
    these basics may still help.....

    Integration Basics:
    It's all about territory and resources(space/food/water).
    Existing birds will almost always attack new ones to defend their resources.
    Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best if mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

    The more space, the better.
    Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no copious blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down and beaten unmercilessly, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide 'out of line of sight'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds. Roosts, pallets or boards leaned up against walls or up on concrete blocks, old chairs tables, branches, logs, stumps out in the run can really help. Lots of diversion and places to 'hide' instead of bare wide open run.
     
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  7. Trish1974

    Trish1974 Crowing

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    Be prepared for fights even with the proper integration methods. Its just the nature of the beast. Hens are like mean teenage girls.
     
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  8. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging 7 Years

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    :goodpost:
    Just to add to what others have offered, a single chicken will usually be very happy to have a friend. As flock animals, they don't fare well alone.
    It is usually different when dealing with single birds as opposed to an established flock.
    I've even had a 3 month old cockerel adopt about 10 chicks. After he got over the shock of no longer being alone he watched over them like mother hen.
     
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  9. GottaHatchAPlan

    GottaHatchAPlan Chirping

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    Definitely taking notes, thank you so much for all the advice! :hugs
    I was especially concerned about where to draw the line with fighting/battle wounds, but I'll try to stay out it unless things get as dire as you said.
     

  10. GottaHatchAPlan

    GottaHatchAPlan Chirping

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    Will do, thanks!
    'Hens are like mean teenage girls' - lol, I just got Mean Girls flashbacks. "Get in, loser! We're going foraging!"
     
    Trish1974 likes this.

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