New Bird Not Fitting In

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by uncredibless33, Aug 1, 2016.

  1. uncredibless33

    uncredibless33 Just Hatched

    May 19, 2016
    We purchased two hens at auction yesterday, both from the same auction group. One of our hens, a Barnevelder, is doing fine. But the other, a dark Brahma, isn't. She came out of her shipping box, pecked me, then ran off to go eat. Immediately, she started picking fights with the other birds and in turn they defended themselves. The Brahma quickly went into a cage and was kept separate over night from the rest of our flock, in our coop. We decided that we'd butcher her; we weren't keeping a mean bird.

    Today, I was trying to get her out of the cage to check her out and see if, besides having plucked feathers, she was healthy. She quickly escaped and ran out to get some water and food (she'd knocked over her water and ate all of the food we'd given her), then calmly walked off on her own. We decided to just watch her and see if she'd fight with the other birds, and she really didn't. If anything, the other birds decided to pick on her. We've come to the conclusion that she was probably picked on so badly by the other birds that she was submissive to our layer girls and even stayed away from our silkies. The aggression seemed to stem from the stress of being kept in a cage with the other birds that were picking on her and the stress of the auction and shipping process.

    Later tonight, we had friends over and they decided to check out our chickens, as we're babysitting some of their hens. Their son went into the coop and claimed that the Dark Brahma was picking on the Light Brahma (probably just normal pecking order stuff). I scooped her up just in case, and just held her for a little while as my mom set up her cage for the night. She actually let me hold her, laid on my lap, and I just sat, petting her. I didn't even have to hold her. She turned and stuck her head under my arm and fell asleep. Like, we thought this bird was going to be mean and aggressive not only our birds, but us as well. But in fact she quietly let me handle her and she didn't display any aggressive behavior at all.

    Like I said, she'd obviously been picked on by other birds and my girls just don't seem to like her and even were even attacking her without warning. She's been sweet to us and just doing normal, pecking-order type behavior while she was with our girls today, but the other birds are not taking to her well and have been absolutely awful. Our Cuckoo Maran pullet, as the Dark Brahma was laying down for the night, jumped on the poor bird's back and just started attacking her, scratching and pulling at her feathers and such.

    We really want to keep this bird, but we don't know how to deal with our flock's aggressiveness towards her. Any advice or ideas on how to integrate this pretty lady are greatly appreciated; we'd love for her to have a good life like our other free-range girls, not living in a cage.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2016
  2. Pyxis

    Pyxis Hatchi Wan Kenobi Premium Member

    Mar 27, 2012
    My Coop
    The best thing to do would have been to start with a quarantine period for both new birds so that you could have gotten her back up to health and made sure that she didn't have anything nasty to pass on to your birds, such as lice, mites, worms, and some really nasty respiratory diseases that you can never get rid of once you have but since they've now been together it's too late for that, so you'll have to have a different plan.

    The "see but don't touch" method is what is most preferred for introducing new birds to a flock. You put them in a large dog crate or section off some of the coop for them such that they and the other birds can see each other but not actually get to each other to fight. They will get used to each other and settle a lot of their pecking order differences (which, by the way, is what the hen was trying to do when you first released her - she was trying to establish her rank in the pecking order, not being "mean". Now with new birds you've completely disrupted the pecking order and it needs to be resettled and fighting is a part of that) through posturing instead of out and out fighting. After a week or two or three you let her loose with the general population. There still may be some squabbling but it shouldn't be as bad.
    1 person likes this.
  3. uncredibless33

    uncredibless33 Just Hatched

    May 19, 2016
    What I meant by "mean" was that we weren't going to keep a bird that was pecking/hurting us, the humans, as well as being agressive with the current hens. Whenever we've introduced other birds we've had nothing go wrong with pecking orders and deciding who goes where in them. The Barnevelder quickly ate then introduced herself to the others, sized up a few/posturing, but nothing unexpected and she's acting like she's just one of the girls now. This dark Brahma, however, wasn't doing the usual posturing that the other birds have done when introduced or even the light squabbles that I've seen happen. She, at one point, pinned one of our smaller birds and started pecking/yanking on feathers for like a minute or two. Heck, I've only ever seen roosters fight like the dark Brahma and our Russian Orloff fought at one point. We decided to give the bird a chance instead of culling her the first night just in case it was a pecking order behavior.

    We knew we made a mistake in not quarantining after doing some more reading last night about what to do when you bring auction birds home. Needless to say that's not going to be happening again: we don't want the risk of introducing something that could hurt our current birds!

    We'll try out that method you've suggested! I had a feeling that's what we should do, but I wanted to see if anyone else had dealt with something similar before confining her for that long.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2016
  4. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Flock Master

    Jan 18, 2008
    Is there room in the coop or run (of you have a run?) To section off an area? If it was me I would do that rather than a cage or crate for that long so she'd get at least a little more space :)

    I agree though, sounds like normal pecking order or maybe she was a bit scared last night. And like you said, maybe was picked on so was overcompensating in an attempt to prevent it

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