Need advice, mean hens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cra-zchicknlady, Apr 30, 2017.

  1. cra-zchicknlady

    cra-zchicknlady Out Of The Brooder

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    My grown flock numbers five, one australorp, one idaknow, and three ISA browns. I added thirteen chicks about a week ago, they're fully feathered and nearly grown. All went normally (some status play, minor pecking) until about three days in. The three ISA's isolated one of the new roo's, pinned him against the fence and pecked holes in him. We noticed in time to save him. He's isolated with a couple of the new hens. The three ISA's are in solitary confinement. The other two hens had nothing to do with the attack, and are doing fine with the chicks left with them. When should I reintroduce the injured roo and his attendants? His scabs are starting to fall off, but his new feathers are still quilly. Is there anything more I should do with the three bullies? I've read some articles on cannibalism as a learned behavior, should I just send them to freezer camp?
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2017
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Integrating new chicks depends mostly on age of birds and how much space is available. People often think they have plenty of room to add more because they read about the minimum square footage required by chickens, than they follow those suggestions which often causes problems.

    As far as your situation I know nothing of your set up or room so I can only generally suggest some things. I always set up a separate area for my chicks within my shed. My chicks go in there for a week. I integrate when my chicks are 6-10 weeks. After a week a I begin supervised outings where I round my chicks up when I'm done. Usually within a week chicks learn to stay away from older hens, where they can run to do so, and the older birds get used to the chicks running about.

    I than will let my chicks out during the day and put them away at night for another month or so before they are old enough to handle themselves. I have lots of room, not one is confined, and the chicks have plenty of places to duck under and smaller opening to squeeze through if necessary.

    Some hens are more aggressive to chicks, but most don't chase them down to peck them as much as yours did. I would assume the young one had no where to escape to, and your hens don't have enough range to keep them busy. Whether to butcher them or not is your decision.

    All separated birds should always be where everyone can see them to make it easy to return them to the flock. I use bluekote to disguise wounds. Putting birds down when it is still wet will leave any curious peckers with a mouth full of yuk.

    If you share information about your set up, it will help folks to suggest appropriate remedies for your individual situation.
     
  3. cra-zchicknlady

    cra-zchicknlady Out Of The Brooder

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    The coop is 9' by 5', the run is enclosed, 9' by 20'. The coop is raised off the ground about a foot, so they have that shaded area in addition to the run. The chicks were 12 weeks old when they were introduced, and kept in a pen set side by side for a few days before they were added to the coop at night. They had pinned him in the corner so he couldn't get away. My plan is to let his scabs fall all the way off before reintroducing him, the ISA's after that. Would it help if I introduced the three meanies one by one? I really don't want to butcher them, they're exceptionally good layers.
     
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    That might help. Sometimes breaking up a group works well, save the most aggressive for last. She will be more concerned about her status in the flock when returned.

    I would add things for you chicks to hide behind or under. Things like pallets leaned against the wall, or one set on blocks so they can get under, though you said they could go under the coop. It might just have been a fluke. From my experiences sex links seem a bit more pushy than other breeds, so maybe they will calm down after a bit.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    9' x 5' coop is tight space for 18 birds that get along........very tight for integration.
    You said "one of the new roos"....maybe get rid of the males now(how many?) to reduce the population?
    A "few days" of side by side is not really enough time.
    Do you free range at all?


    aarts integration blurb
    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.
     
  6. cra-zchicknlady

    cra-zchicknlady Out Of The Brooder

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    I would love to free range, but can't, I live inside town limits. The town council is barely tolerant of backyard chickens as it is. They get fresh cut grass and herbs daily. 18 isn't a permanent number. We got a mixed batch of chicks from the feed store. In a few weeks, we'll select about half to raise for meat and separate them. I said one of the roos because there's two currently that I'm 100% positive are male. A few others that could go either way.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I'd separate the 'meat' birds pronto, that will provide immediate relief for the remaining flock.
    I usually slaughter cockerels at 13-16 weeks, right before(or immediately after) they start causing trouble and still tender enough for the grill.
     

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