Please help - flock integration woes

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by adriayna, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. adriayna

    adriayna New Egg

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    Oct 19, 2012
    I have a rooster (black copper maran) and two hens (australorp and silver laced wyondotte). A friend gave me two new peeps, both females, of this breed called "Lackenvelder". First of all, these lackenvelder hens are insane--they act more like wild turkeys or pheasants than they do actual hens. I handled them, gave them the same treatment as my other hens (who are loving, tame, and really wonderful, sweet birds), and they are still wild and run from me and freak out everytime I get close.

    Ok, so fast forward a few months. When the Lackenvelders were 14 weeks old, I tried integrating them into my existing flock. I put them in a smaller coop for a while, then let the birds interact through the fence. After a few days of this, I locked them up in the coop at night. This resulted in one of them getting horribly bloody (back of the neck pecking) in less than 2 hours. They escaped the coop (literally busted through the chicken wire) and fled in terror; I couldn't find them and so they ended up spending the night in the trees before I found them the next day.

    So I put them away from the main coop for a few more weeks till they got older. They are now close to 20 weeks old; full grown, probably ready to start laying in the next month or so. I tried, again, to integrate them into the flock yesterday with the same method as before.

    Not only are my two hens beating up on them and plucking out the feathers on the back of their neck, my ROOSTER (who is a real gentleman, the nicest rooster who is so non-aggressive) is ALSO beating up on them. I'm wondering if one is actually a roo, but they both really look like hens. After I saw this behavior this morning, I pulled out my bully hen, the australorp, and left the roo and my other hen, Lima bean, in the coop. I thought that would help them integrate better. No, it didn't matter at all--my existing flock still beat upon the new hens really badly. These Lackenvelders are almost full grown hens--why is this happening? So one is bloody again, and I again pulled them back out and now they are in my garden (which I'll never be able to catch them now, but that's a different matter entirely).

    Honestly, these chickens have been a nightmare from day 1. Impossible to handle and catch, impossible to work with, fleeing away from you. And my flock doesn't like them one bit. My friend wants to slaughter them--and I'm at my wit's end, and I might take him up on it if a solution can't be reached.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for how to create a peaceful flock? How to integrate these two birds?
     
  2. adriayna

    adriayna New Egg

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    Oct 19, 2012
    Does anyone have any ideas? bump!
     
  3. JenifferHartman

    JenifferHartman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It sounds like you have done about all you can.. if they are that much trouble, I'd rehome them or eat them
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    My only thought is how much space do you have? That could be an issue.

    But that aside, you don't even like these birds. Why bother to keep animals you don't like? I understand if someone gives you something there's an obligation there, but really, sounds like you're done. Lakenvelders aren't very big, and are fairly rare, so honestly I'd sell them before I'd butcher them. Run an ad on Craigslist and I'll bet someone will snap them up.
     
  5. adriayna

    adriayna New Egg

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    I'm hoping that if the Lackenvelders spend time with the other calm flock, it will help them become calm too....and I raised them, so I don't really want to get rid of them or eat them. I really want to integrate them into the flock. I'm wondering if there are methods that I haven't yet tried that could work....
     
  6. big worm

    big worm New Egg

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    Just give it time. They'll work things out themselves. It's hard to tame birds you didn't raise from birth. Sometimes they never come around, sometimes they do
     
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I think the OP did raise them from birth. Said it's been several months.
     
  8. GuppyTJ

    GuppyTJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    You mentioned "I put them in a smaller coop for a while, then let the birds interact through the fence. After a few days of this..." The only thing I would suggest is that you do this again but for AT LEAST a week or to be safe, for two full weeks. It seems the established flock is not accepting the 2 new pullets as part of the flock. Try giving them more time to get used to the idea that these 2 new ones are part of the flock and here to stay. This will also keep your 2 new ones safe and not as stressed from being attacked and injured. Also, do you free range or have a really big run? Make sure when you let them out, the 2 new ones have loads of space to move away from the established flock of 3. That way, the 2 can be off by themselves away from the other 3, sort of like 2 separate flocks for awhile. Finally, you probably already have this but make sure you have lots of things for the new 2 to hide behind and to fly up on top of to get away from the other 3.

    I've only done one integration myself but I took the advice of others here at BYC and had my 6 new pullets living inside a make-shift temporary fenced in area inside the main coop for a full week. My situation was a lot easier than yours because the new pullets were only 2 weeks younger than the existing flock. Even then, once I let the 6 new ones out, they ran off by themselves away from the existing flock of 10. And, my existing flock of 10 consisted of 8 cockerals (I know, bad straight run luck I had). The flock didn't truly integrate until after I'd moved the 8 cockerals to their own bachelor pad, then culled the extra cockerals and put the keeper cockeral back in with the pullets. Now, nearly 2 months have passed and they are all around 21 weeks old and they are FINALLY behaving like one big happy, integrated flock.

    It does sound like you raised the 2 pullets from young chicks. Some breeds and some individuals are just more flighty than others. Some are more gregarious. I have a few that run up to me like puppies every single time I go up to the barn. Others are very skittish and act like I'm going to step on them even though I move slowly, talk softly and try to not scare them. It does seem to matter in my flock which I raised from baby chicks and handled a lot and yet, it's also seems to be breed related. My Barred Rocks, even the ones I got already grown to 8 weeks old are just more gregarious than the other breeds. But, the point is, they're all different and individuals with different personalities and comfort levels with me.

    I hope this helps. I share my experience to let you know that it takes time. Your situation is even more challenging because your existing flock of 3 are adults and the 2 new ones are younger pullets. So try to give them even more time to be exposed to each other and make sure they have ample room to be apart as 2 flocks until they eventually (hopefully) integrate.

    Guppy
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013

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