pecking order

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by janemurphy, Jul 9, 2010.

  1. janemurphy

    janemurphy New Egg

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    I got an older bird (about a year) to round out my roost of three 9 week old RI Reds. I mostly have them separated, but I'd like to get the older girl into the coop (especially at night, and because she's laying all over the place). She does peck at the younger girls, however, who seem terrified of her. I've tried a couple of times, but after about 5 minutes or so, I take them apart again. Are the younger ones just going to have to endure some pecking, or is there a more "tried and true" method to get them to coexist? The pecking isn't terrible, but some feathers have been flying. It's been about 5 days.

    Thanks for the help!
     
  2. Barred Babies

    Barred Babies Red Roof Farms

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    The rule of thumb is usually to wait till your little ones are almost the same size as the hens. That was they have a better chance of defending themselves!! But they will have to endure some pecking until they get it all worked out!!

    Missi
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2010
  3. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    They really should be closer to each others' sizes before you put them together. I use "grow out" or "meet & greet" housing for such situations, with temporary fencing between the groups. They get to see, hear, and fluff up their feathers with some mild pecking through the fence, that way. I keep 'em separated for about 2 - 3 weeks before I take the temporary fencing down. It does involve having a separate coop or other place to sleep at night, though.

    However, with that said, pecking order flurries are far more uncomfortable for US than it is for the chickens. The more you separate 'em after putting them together "for a bit," the longer it takes to establish the chickens' rank within the pecking order. Each time they 'come back' it starts over again.

    Feathers flying without blood loss is just part of it. I know. But it's got to happen on their terms, not ours. Just keep an eye out for actual injury.
     
  4. janemurphy

    janemurphy New Egg

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    Jul 1, 2010
    Oh, sorry, I forgot to mention that the Reds aren't really chicks anymore - they're almost the same size as the golden buff. The "runty" one is smaller, but I think that might always be the case. The largest of the reds is almost full grown (I think!).

    During the day the three "chicks" are in an open fence covered run, while the 1 year old is right outside of it in a larger enclosure. When they're apart, they mostly ignore each other - no pecking through the fence.
     
  5. Barred Babies

    Barred Babies Red Roof Farms

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    If there only 9 weeks old then they should only be about half the size of the hen unless she's on the small size or a banty. My RIR are now about 16-17 weeks old and their almost as big as my full grown BR's.

    Missi
     

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