Newly Integrating Hens Just Hide!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Mrs Ugh, Aug 21, 2018.

  1. Mrs Ugh

    Mrs Ugh Chirping

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    Long story, but the short version is that I have 3 new hens (about 16wo) that I am trying to integrate into my flock of 9 1yo hens that were all raised together. They aren't killing "the newbies", but they chase them so much they all just hide all day. One is brave enough to come out a bit, but they usually stay in the coop. Sometimes I (or the bossiest hen) will kick them out, then they hide in the dog kennel I put in the run for them. I am afraid they won't be able to get enough to eat /drink this way. This has been going on for 4 days now. Is this okay? Will they eventually work out out? The "rest of the story" is below !

    I had a happy flock of 9 hens, but picked up a new one at a swap. As recommended, I waited until everyone was roosting peacefully and tucked her in for the night. I went out early in the morning to see how things would go. She just stayed inside the coop! I think my perches were maybe a bit high for her, so I put her on the floor of the coop and let her come out on her own. Everything seemed good at first. A few pecks here and there as I expected - then all 9 hens piled on her. I shooed them away, but they wouldn't stop. (She is now living in a smaller coop I have with the three 1 month old pullets I also picked up.) I did the same with another and she is the braver newbie. I then got 2 more 16 wo pullets and tucked them in at night (one one day and one the next). I don't think they have ever left the coop voluntarily. I don't have food or water inside, but I added more sources outside - which are very attractive to the existing flock. The newbies go from roosting to hiding inside or under the coop, to being chased around the run. This can't be good! Please help!
     
  2. BYCforlife

    BYCforlife Free Ranging

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    The same thing happened to me. My best method is to temporarily move the 9 hens to a different enclosure, in view of the regular coop. Then, put the new chickens in the old coop, and make sure they go outside and see that it is safe. Then, one by one put the older hens back in.

    Other than that, all I can recommend is putting an extra feeder and waterer in the kennel so the young ones don't starve.
     
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  3. True Patriot

    True Patriot Sanity is subjective

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    Is there a way you can split the run with a temporary fence, this would be the time chicken wire is good. New members on one side and old on opposite. Since they can poke heads through throw scratch or feed along fence and let them get used to each other. The barrier allows retreat when necessary but let's them learn to mingle.
     
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  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    Another trick, is to pull your other hens out of the set up. Either have them out in the yard or put them where you had the new ones. This will allow the new birds to explore the area without being chased for their lives. They can figure things out. And the old birds see them in there and the sky does not fall.

    Just before dark, let the old ones in. The urge to fight will compete with the urge to roost, do a couple of days of this, and it should be better.

    Mrs K
     
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  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Yeah, that technique often doesn't go well.
    .....and 4 days isn't long.

    How big is your coop and run, in feet by feet?
    Dimensions, and some pics, would really help here.

    Meanwhile, here's some tips on.....
    Integration Basics:
    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. Mrs Ugh

    Mrs Ugh Chirping

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    I set up some non - dead - end hiding spots and let the flock free range in the afternoons (as they have in the past). The newbies got a nice afternoon wandering around the run and eating and drinking their fill. As the afternoon went on, we would add one or two of the nicer hens in the run, then everyone at sundown. This morning I came out to all of the newbies eating and drinking peacefully with the other hens! What a relief. A few more days and they may be one flock! Thanks for the tips!
     
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  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Great job at Chicken Juggling!

    They wont really be one flock until the youngers start laying and working their way into the adults pecking order, so don't be surprised if the 2 age groups stay fairly separated most of the time.
     
  8. jolly wattles

    jolly wattles Songster

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    One thing you can try is have them in the same area with only a fence between them. Then throw some treats along the fence on both sides. This gives them the sense of free ranging together without being able to touch.
     

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