new chicken integration not going well

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by zoelovesmom, Sep 18, 2011.

  1. zoelovesmom

    zoelovesmom Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 22, 2011
    Highlands Ranch, CO
    About a week and a half ago, I lost one of my four chickens, Emily, to a Doberman who jumped my fence. Emily was the top of the pecking order and trying to defend her flock. Since then, the dog has come back twice to try to get more chickens. My neighbor saw him trying to jump over, but he had on one of those cone collars and couldn't mange the fence with it. Then I saw it trying to come toward us, and I chased it away. I have found out who the owner is and he's working on it (installed an electric fence this weekend), but basically the minute this dog gets out again, it WILL head straight for my yard. UGH.

    A few days after I lost the chicken, I got a new one. She was 28 weeks - about 2 months older than the others. I wanted to integrate the new one before the new pecking order was too firmly established. I did the recommended integration things - kept them seperate but in sight/smell for three days. Moved things around in the coop. Even switched containers so that the new chicken was in one area, then my older ones were in there the next time, etc., so they could both smell each other's smell. At the end of the third day, after everyone was asleep, I put the new chicken on the roost with the chickens.

    Well. The three chickens are not accepting the new one. They peck at her every time she tries to approach them. They run around together and exclude her. I feel so bad for her; she's very sweet and social with me.

    Part of the problem is that in the middle of all this, we're having work done on our yard. So between fear of the dog and having workers out there, I've had to lock the chickens in their coop a lot over the last week. They haven't been able to work it out with lots of elbow room.

    Notably, no one is picking on each other so much that they are drawing blood. Even in the coop, they go to their separate corners and have managed not to trash the place for a few days, though a few days ago, there was evidence of a knock-down-drag-out fight (ramp and food knocked over).

    Honestly, the whole situation with the dog, construction, and new chicken is s-t-r-e-s-s-i-n-g me out, big time. Is there anything I can do to make them get along better? How long will it take for the three meanies to accept the fourth into their fold?

    Thanks in advance for any tips. I love my chickens, and I just want them to get along!
     
  2. chi-rn

    chi-rn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 11, 2011
    I took a look at your BYC page & the run under your coop is awfully small. You must have since added a run or you must allow your girls to free-range a fenced yard as you mention the dog jumping over. Free-ranging dogs are indeed a huge problem where chickens are concerned--- I'm a firm believer in electric fence (not the buried kind) when they're around!
    1st things 1st.... 3 days is way too short to keep a new hen separated from an existing flock... 2 weeks or more is more like it just for biosecurity reasons alone. Adding just one lone hen to an existing flock is almost always difficult; generally, it's recommended to add multiples so one hen doesn't take the brunt of the "initiation". Also, the newbies need time to be located close to the existing flock without actually mingling, & that's AFTER the biosecurity separation time. Do you have a large dog crate to keep newbies in so other hens can come up to meet & greet without actually making contact?
    Chickens must establish a pecking order &, as hard as it is for us softies, they're simply not going to just get along like we want them to. But your hens are being too rushed in the integration process & your new one I'm afraid, is going to end up being hurt....
    You might want to review this link from the BYC Learning Center: https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=2593-adding-to-your-flock.
    I
    hope things go well for you...
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2011
  3. zoelovesmom

    zoelovesmom Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 22, 2011
    Highlands Ranch, CO
    I can only add one hen because my HOA only allows a max of 4 chickens.

    I have been allowing them to free range all summer, until the dog jumped my fence. I thought about an electric fence, but worried that one that was strong enough to deter that giant dog might kill my chickens?? I also have an enclosed, portable run for the yard, but was unable to use it this week due to the construction. I was using a large dog crate to keep the newbie in for the three days. I was not worried about diseases because I saw the place where the new bird came from, and she was very well cared for. One of the chickens in that small flock was a prize-winning 4H raised hen.
     

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