Need help with my flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by momto5ladies, Aug 10, 2016.

  1. momto5ladies

    momto5ladies Just Hatched

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    The players:

    Ziggy, 21 weeks and top chicken. A wonderful bird that helped Itsy and Bitsy when they arrived much younger than she was. When they arrived Ziggy was about 11 weeks old and Its and Bits were only about 6 wks old.

    Bitsy and Itsy are now 16 weeks old.

    And then there are the babies, Thelma and Louise which are only 10 weeks old. I am so hoping that Ziggy can teach them the ropes.

    Moving forward. Last week I moved the three older girls to their new enclosure. They are now on a second story deck with a ramp they can use during the day to go downstairs. In the evening the ramp is shut off and they are 100% safe from anything! On top of that I get to enjoy them playing around as I can watch them from my Den through the sliding glass doors. They have kiddie pools with dirt and branches to fly into, its really nice.

    So yesterday I took the babies out and put a temporary fence up so that the birds can see each other but not hurt each other. Here's the problem. Bitsy who was number 3 chicken up in the old coop has now challenged Itsy and taken over as number 2 chicken. She is now being mean to the babies. I plan on keeping them separate for the week or two I read that you should do this. My thinking is should I take Bitsy out for a little attitude adjustment (rest in another coop) so the babies can maybe join the others faster? These babies so need a chicken to look up to. For those that read my other posts, they still cry like crazy every night when I put them in their hen house,

    My thinking is if I remove Bitsy for a couple of days then the babies will bond with Ziggy and Ziggy will keep them safe, right?

    I also need to know if I'm keeping the girls up too late at night. Since being in the new enclosure I have lights and spotlights out there. I just love to watch them chasing moths, but it is it good for them to be jumping up and down and flying around if they are going to lay an egg in the morning? Right now I'm keeping them up until about 11pm. Is that too late for them? Were talking about the older girls as I'm returning the babies to their coop at night.
     
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    What do you mean by "being mean"? What humans consider mean and what birds consider mean can be quite different.

    If they're separeted by a fence, she can't do anything to them, correct? I'd just continue to do that for a week or so.


    Then again, I'm a fast-track integrator. I don't do long drawn out introductions. At 16 and 10 weeks, especially if you're free ranging, I'd let everyone out together and just keep an eye on them. Anything short of pinning a little down in a corner and mercilessly pecking would be fine, and they'd be getting along in a day or so in most cases. But most folks aren't comfortable with that and prefer to take it slower.
     
  3. momto5ladies

    momto5ladies Just Hatched

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    Thank you for your reply. By being mean Bitsy is sticking her head through the temporary fence opening trying to peck at the babies. I so would love just opening up things but so fear the babies might get beat up. They look to me for leadership and I don't want to let them down. I'm new at this so if I'm screwing up please let me know.

    update- the temporary fencing has a one inch opening so the birds can stick their heads through it but not get to the other side. I have other fencing materials but this is what I chose at the time.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2016
  4. sawilliams

    sawilliams Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Don't depend on ziggy to protect the babies. I had an older pullet take in young pullets for a while too but when we added more to the flock she wanted nothing to do with the baby chicks. Just because they mother once out of companionship or stress doesn't mean they will mother every chick that comes home.

    Bitsy is being mean... she's 16 weeks and the babies are 10 weeks at this point it's not likely she's going to hurt the babies unless it's a full on assult. If the babies were younger I might worry about 1 over bossy chicken but really she's just trying to place herself so no one challenges her later. Also I have noticed at least in my flock the second in command tends to be the "enforcer" so to speak which. Might be why she seems meaner, she's not she's just trying to teach. It's sort of like telling a 1 year old child no, it hurts their pride but there's no real damage.

    Are itsy and bitsy laying yet? Flock dynamic changes each time new chickens are added, but also each time one comes into laying. With my girls it was almost like the none layers Co-existed but where not fully part of the flock yet. Example: black betty last year she was my last to lay. For months she sat towards the back of the run, was last to eat last to come out to free-range and most likely to get a pecking for stepping out of line. Then like 2 days before her first egg she was first out of the run and regularly mingling with the others. Same this year with hot sauce (kids names) though her and master sushi would hang out, hot sauce would still hang back if master sushi went to mingle.

    Now at this point with 12 chickens i couldn't tell you who is the last in the pecking order but Mildred is the top and 2 and 3 are between Marshall and Henrietta. But none of the top 3 are "mean". They are most likely to peck another to claim a spot on the rooster to have a turn dust bathing or for a space at the feeder. But that's not mean that's flock order.

    Now if she's chasing and pecking, pinning or trapping one of the littles yes that's something to worry about. But a no that's my spot, or get out of my way peck or 2 is not mean.

    Just give them time and when you do let the littles in with the bigs just make sure the littles have places to hide out of the way of the bigs. They will all learn their places and unless you truly have a "mean" chicken or your coop and run are to small for them all it will work it's self out.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2016
  5. SueT

    SueT Overrun With Chickens

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    My adult hens were horrid to the youngsters thru the fence-- which made me wait until the pullets were 12 weeks to let them together. 5 days ago. And it isn't so bad. There's chasing and feather pulling, but also ignoring. The pullets have quickly learned the rules which are --stay out of the way, move when we look at you, and don't you dare go near our roost..... and of course, like teenagers, they seem to enjoy testing the rules.
    In a forum I read that if there's no blood, let them be, and I'm following that.
     
  6. momto5ladies

    momto5ladies Just Hatched

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    Thanks, I'm loving the advice. Itsy and Bitsy aren't laying yet. Only Ziggy is laying. Which brings up another few questions.

    The older girls are on flock food, the little ones are on medicated chick feed. How long do the babies need the medicated chick feed? They also have chick grit and the older ones are on poultry grit which has larger pieces. I guess I should just have both out, but the food I really worry about. I learned about Flock food from this forum. I also have oyster shells out for Ziggy which the older girls enjoy as well.

    Also does anyone think I'm keeping the girls up to late? I put them in their house at about 11pm and wake up time is 5:30am. Of course, they rest during the day. And is it ok for Ziggy to fly around so much with an egg inside her?
     
  7. jpalmatier83

    jpalmatier83 Out Of The Brooder

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    Not trying to hijack the thread, but I have a question that may be useful here as well.

    I've seen a lot of people say "no blood, no foul". My girls don't feather pull though, they go for the comb. Is it normal to have black specks on the comb (scabs etc), or is the fact that they are going for the comb and not the feathers something to be concerned about?

    They don't seem particularly aggressive. I believe they have plenty of space. They just seem to have targeted on a more sensitive area.
     
  8. SueT

    SueT Overrun With Chickens

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    Just give them all flock food. You don't want your egg layers getting any of the medicated feed. You don't want chicks getting layer food, but all-flock is fine. And at 10 weeks old, the regular grit is probably good, but you might leave some smaller just in case.
    I don't know about staying up late. But in far northern latitudes it stays light that long and even longer in the summer, and I'm sure the chickens are happy and healthy. If Ziggy likes to fly, then I say good for her!
    And re bullying, people do say that giving a bully time out for a while may change the dynamic.
     
  9. momto5ladies

    momto5ladies Just Hatched

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    Well I'm having an especially difficult time. I've had Thelma and Louise a month now and they were just little 6 weeks old chicks when they arrived. They didn't have an older chicken to bond with so I was it. Just learning to be chickens has been hard for them and they so look to me for their safety. I remember when I got my first girls. I would check on them to say goodnight and find both Itsy and Bitsy would be laying under Ziggy as they all poked their heads out to peep good night. Even though Ziggy was young herself she really helped the younger ones. Thelma and Louise didn't have this.
     
  10. momto5ladies

    momto5ladies Just Hatched

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    No worries, were all here to learn!
     

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