Pecking order and adding new chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by OffBeatBetty, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. OffBeatBetty

    OffBeatBetty Out Of The Brooder

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    So, I had a flock of 4 (1 orpington and 3 silkies). I then acquired 3 younger chickens (2 faverolles and 1 polish) and kept the quarantined from the older chickens until I knew they were disease-free and fully feathered. Then all 3 silkies from the older group ended up being roosters [​IMG].
    I kept one roo and found a home for the other 2. So, I'm down to 2 older chickens who are 4 months old. The younger 3 are now 10 weeks old, and I started to integrate them to the older 2 a couple of weeks ago using the "playpen method." They all seemed to get along fine through the fence, so I began to let them free-range together.
    My silkie roo is doing great with the 3 new "littles" and being a sweet boy, but the older orpington pullet is being a royal b*tch to them. And she is a BIG lady. She chases and pecks (which is to be expected) but she just won't stop. The other 3 are breeds that are never going to be as big as her and I'm wondering what I can do to make her stop being such a bossy lady. I have tried holding her down to show dominance whenever she attacks them... separating her from everyone else... carrying her around with me for awhile. It's only been a few days of actually free-ranging them together.... is this normal? I am worried about the extreme size difference and her really hurting them, and I can't be there to mediate 24/7. Wait and try again in a couple of weeks? Stick it out?
     
  2. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The young ones do have some growing to do yet. If they orpington actively goes after them you have a couple of options, wait till they are older and more willing and able to defend themselves, limit the time they are together and have distractions and more hiding places and things that break up the lines of sight. Or just tough it out and let it go if there is no injuries, the young ones will soon learn not to be targets. If it continues for more then a couple of days you could pull her and separate her for a week out of sight and let the silkie bond with the young ones.
     
  3. OffBeatBetty

    OffBeatBetty Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for your insight! When I tried to separate "Gretta," the orpington, for more than an hour she began to panic and throw herself against the side of the pen I have in the garage. She was also making this terrible squealing noise and panting and looked so incredibly stressed so I took her out and just carried her around with me for awhile. I'm not sure if this is normal, and if so how to separate her for a week in fear she would harm herself trying to escape. She's really a sweet girl to me, but kind of has a "Miss Piggy" type personality: large and in charge. The fact that our rooster is a silkie and kind of the size of Danny DeVito in comparison doesn't really help [​IMG]

    So far there hasn't been any blood-shed and the "littles" seem to stay out of her way... except she did try to corner them next a bush in the yard earlier and I had to use the broom aka "the chicken wrangler" on her. Right now I have the "littles" in the enclosed run with the rooster and they are all doing fine. Gretta is free-ranging and does not have access to the run/coop but can see everyone. She's mad, but at least she seems calmer than when she was alone in the garage. Hopefully the rooster will bond with the "littles" some more so Gretta will just have to deal. He already came to their rescue once today (such a good guy!). Who knew chickens were like watching a soap-opera??
     
  4. ChickensXOXO

    ChickensXOXO Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Normally, I just wait and let them establish their pecking order, and it always works out without any injuries.
    Letting them see each other through a fence was a good way to start introducing them.
    I have read to separate the bully for an extended amount of time, like you did but probably for longer.
    So when you reintroduce her, she will be the newbie.
    However, with the age and size difference, she's probably going to stay high on the pecking order.
    Just give it time and keep trying. As long as the smaller ones can get out of her way, they should be fine.
     
  5. OffBeatBetty

    OffBeatBetty Out Of The Brooder

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    Well, I successfully separated Gretta from everyone yesterday evening/ night/ and most of today. I left the rooster in with the "littles" and he ended up roosting and cuddling with them last night (he's such a good roo!). I let them free-range together for most of the day and he stayed with them and seemed to be giving them a tour.
    When I added Gretta this afternoon, she immediately did some more dominance pecking and chasing, but not nearly to the extent that she had been. I kept an eye on them all for awhile, went inside to have lunch, and when I came back they were all inside the run resting next to each other on the ground... even Gretta! I have two water buckets and two feed troughs in the run on different sides, and so far it looks like everyone is getting enough to eat/drink. It's been several hours and I haven't seen any more bullying going on. It seems the roo has bonded to the little ones and he stands in front of them when Gretta gets too close and she seems to have given up. [​IMG]
     
  6. SpazzyChick

    SpazzyChick New Egg

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    Hi, I am having a similar problem. I recently lost my rhode island red, Dutchess to a feral cat (I believe) which left my Polish hen, Moppy, all alone.

    <Moppy was also a introduced adult bird with Dutchess (had lost two other birds to cancer which left Dutch alone.)>

    Now, for a few days after, she remained in shock and stuck to the shadows of our yard when free ranging. For a multitude of reasons, it was decided that she needed a friend, so my friend gave me a sweet little mix breed, Pea (another adult). Now, Moppy was the submissive hen in my flock of 2 when Dutchess was in charge, and Dutch only shoved her weight around for the first week when I was given Moppy (which is typical when introducing new chickens).

    Now, Moppy is acting like a dominant hen, going after Pea when ever they are going to bed. I made a cereal box divider for their perch in coop, and Moppy pecked the divider for the first few nights trying to get at Pea. I understand that the longer you get in their way, the longer this little war goes on, but Moppy has recently started pecking her rather hard behind her head. Plus, Pea can't seem to relax or be in the same area as Moppy (if Moppy comes near her, Pea will make a five foot detor around her and keep her distance.)

    Will they ever be friendly, or is Pea going to live in fear of my normally submissive bird Moppy, who now is acting like a mob boss with a split personality?

    As I said, it is mostly when they go to bed where I have the most problems. Second question is if there is a way to keep the peace without a cardboard divider between them on perch? Or is that the correct thing to do, then take it down again and see how that goes? (I tried taking it down last night, but Moppy then cornered Pea on the pole between her and the wall and went after her head. Let that go for a second to see if that would be the end of it, but she did not relent, so I seperated them again. Pea has been with Moppy for almost a week now.)

    Thank you for any help that can be provided (I don't normally go on forums, so sorry if this is a bit scattered and lengthy.)
     
  7. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome to BYC.
    I'm afraid it is going to take a while longer. If they are generally avoiding each other during the day it will just take more time. Keep the divider for a couple of weeks or until you see them acting like a flock during the day. Still, Moppy may never accept Pea next to her on the perch.
     
  8. califarmgirl

    califarmgirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My question is what is "normal" pecking behavior. I've had 3 silkies in a pen inside my run for a month. They're now 11 weeks old. Every time they venture out into the run, my 5 month old EE, black stars and silkies chase them and pull beakfulls of feathers from their heads and tails. I immediately step in and place the babies back in their pen afraid real damage will be done. At this point I'm thinking about giving the babies away. I don't want them killed by the big girls. Is feather pulling a sign my other birds are too aggressive for the new chickens?
     
  9. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    An occasional feather pulled can happen. Beak full after beak full falls into the more aggressive range. Since you have silkies in the older group It isn't so much that they have different feathers. My guess is that there are one or two ring leaders. Watch them to identify them so you can try separating them and then let the others integrate. The feather pullers may not be the top of the order just ones who don't want the newbies over them.
     
  10. califarmgirl

    califarmgirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks. I'll separate the leader (EE) and the two black stars. They're the most aggressive feather pullers. I appreciate the help!
     

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