New Hens Forming Their Own Flock ????

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by KerryP, Nov 30, 2015.

  1. KerryP

    KerryP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2015
    Hi everyone,
    I am sorry if a similar question has been posted elsewhere, but I couldn't find my answer so I'm posting here. I have a backyard flock of 4 hens who have all just come into lay. I raised them from chickens, they free range during the day, and they're all pretty happy. I just bought two new pullets (Marans) who are full grown but not quite laying yet. My hens are allowing them to sleep in the coop at night which is good, but the two hens won't roost... they just snuggle up on the floor underneath the other four hens. Question #1: Why won't they roost? Second issue... the two new hens just hang out alone all day... they won't go join the other flock of 4 hens. Question #2: Why won't they just go range with the others? Today is the 4th day I've had the two new hens. 2 of my existing flock will run after or peck them (to be expected). Will they stay on their own forever, or eventually join the existing flock? Help, and thank you!
  2. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master Premium Member Project Manager

    Jan 10, 2013
    Bet the newbies distance from the established flock to prevent being picked on. If you witness up close at roost time ( a hencam or close proximity viewing), I will bet you the others are keeping them off those roosts.

    IMO, give it time & eventually they will find their place on the roost.

    It took me 2 months to get a flock to accept back an established member of the flock. And even now, we see shifts in roost positions and small squabbles at roost time.

    And [​IMG] So glad you have joined us.
    Consider starting an intro thread under the new members forum to get a proper welcoming
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2015
  3. 19marvinn

    19marvinn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2015
    I had a similar problem. When my chickens were 4 weeks old, I added 2 cream legbars to my existing flock of 6. Immediately these chickens distances themselves and never mingled with the others. They stay in the coop all day while the others go in the run. They only come out when I throw food in the run. When they join the others they get pecked a run back into the coop. They are now 20 weeks old and nothing has changed. They seem to be pretty content with themselves though. My hypothesis is if you have tight knit group of chickens and add more along the way they will always be the outcast.

    As for the roosting issue, I would manually place mine on the roost each nigh until they did it on their own. Only took about a week.

    Best of Luck,
  4. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2013
    It might take awhile but eventually they will assimilate on their own timeline. I add to the flock periodically after placing the new ones in adjacent runs. Sometimes the assimilation goes quicker than others. I've already opened the door between the runs and that was it, they were in each others runs.
    Recently I added some May chicks (some purchased as day olds and some I hatched.) just before they started to lay. While there was no problems, the younger ones kept to themselves and we had to put them into the larger coop.
    Many of my established flock are in a molt
    [​IMG] while the younger ones have now started to lay. That quickly the rooster started paying more attention to them (I can just about tell who is laying by whom he is breeding.). Suddenly they are in the middle of the flock and go right into the coop, no problem.
    I also have a small flock of bantams who lost their rooster. They had always free ranged together as their own group but now the bantam hens have assimilated into the large fowl flock.
    Meanwhile I have some younger bantams not quite four months old and they have their own coop. Although they free range together with no problem, they are still their own group and put themselves into their own coop in the evening although they visit the other coops during the day. And the others visit their coop. At least they all get along.
  5. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    You can call them sub-flocks or social units, but there really is no such thing as one big happy flock that new-comers will eventually be assimilated into.

    The first social unit a chicken experiences is the one with other chicks in the brooder or under a broody hen. This is also the most enduring, lasting the life of the chicken. This is the social unit that gives a chicken their self confidence. Generally, the more chicks in this original unit, the more self confidence a chicken will have. Chicks raised alone or with only one or two other chicks don't have nearly the self confidence that chicks having the benefit of greater numbers. This carries over to how they deal with all future pecking orders. These are the chickens that will have an easier time assimilating into a new flock because they will be much less intimidated by the home chickens.

    There are best friend relationships that chickens can form aside from the sub-flocks and regular pecking order, but these usually take years to come about. A lot of times, BFFs are from the brood they were raised with, but not always. I have one original chicken from the very first group of chicks I raised and she's going on eight years. She has formed several BFF relationships over the years, and she's easily the most senior in the pecking order.

    This year I introduced two new groups of baby chicks into the flock, and they each adhere to their own sub-flock. Prior to this, the youngest group was three years of age, ranging up to five, six and seven years for the others. I was surprised to see that both groups of chicks were accepted into the flock with almost no bullying by the elders. The only bullying was experienced by the three youngest chicks, who were only four months younger than the first group. This is pretty typical. Also what probably contributed to it was the comparative numbers in each group, five in the first and three in the second, which conferred more self confidence on the first group than the second. Chicks with less self confidence tend to get bullied more.

    When you bring home one or two new chickens and introduce them into the flock, it's a double edged sword. What we want is for everyone to get along, but the flock will see them as outsiders and not to be trusted. Also, depending on how much self confidence the newbies have, they will keep their distance from the flock until they feel they've found their place in the pecking order and the home chickens regard them less like intruders. This isn't something that happens quickly.

    Chicken World is a complex thing. If we can try to understand it as such, we'll be patient and let the chickens work out their relationships with minimum interference from us. If you can resist micromanaging your flock, you'll find that they will work things out much better than if we try to "help", and in much less time.
  6. ArcticMermaid

    ArcticMermaid Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 7, 2015
    North Carolina
    I have 10 hens and 2 roosters of varying breeds that I bought and raised as chicks. Then I bought a pure Ameraucana rooster and after letting him share a fence with the original flock for 2 weeks I waited until the others was roosting at night and put him in the coop. There has been no problems and really no squabbles. Recently I was given 6 white hens. I did the same thing with them. There have been a few minor scuffles as the pecking order was shifting within the hens but nothing major. The first 3 days the white hens stayed to themselves. For the last 2 weeks however they are all in one large group wing to wing and only fuss over treats that I throw in.

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