Please help - terrible time introducing chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by bosmatthews, May 3, 2009.

  1. bosmatthews

    bosmatthews Hatching

    Oct 28, 2007
    I have a total of six chickens; three are 2 years old; the other three are about 10 months. They were kept separate all winter - now I want to integrate. Meanwhile, one of the three older chickens got really beat up by the other two in the winter quarters. She's had a lot of feathers pulled, she's lost weight and she's weak. So I've been having three separate chicken quarters - the one beat up one by herself. The two older ones, by themselves, and then the three younger ones by themselves. It's crazy!

    So I tried to put everyone together. I put rooster booster pick-no-more on the weak one, and then put them all together - lots of space in electric poultry netting area and coop. The two older ones have been extremely aggressive; dominating the weak one and all three younger ones for two days with lots of fighting and intimidation. Finally I couldn't stand it any more, so the two agressive ones are back in the pen in the barn, and the weak one is out with the three youngsters in the coop (with poultry netting run).

    I'm going to buy a dog crate and try to get the two agressive older ones introduced slowly by sight, but separate. I don't know what to do about the weak one. I don't want to separate her again because I'm afraid I'll never get her integrated but I'm worried how she'll do with the three youngsters. Any suggestions?

    Also, what do I do at night? I can put the two agressive ones in the dog crate but we have weasel issues here and I'm afraid to have them just in the crate at night. Can I put them to roost all together and then split them up just during the day or is that a bad idea?

    Please help! I'm exhausted and depressed about how this has gone and my husband is upset with me because of all the hassle and worry. Any suggestions would be so appreciated!

    Desperate in Vermont.

  2. EggGardener

    EggGardener In the Brooder

    Mar 8, 2009
    I have been reading about this, as I will need to integrate 3 newbies into a 5-hen flock. Two ideas sounded great to me.
    1)Add something to the coop such as colorful kids toys, a hose, a plastic snake. Redirect their attention.
    2)Add the aggressive hens into the group of passive hens one at a time. Once she's settled down, add the other one.
    Also, when my hens have to stay in all day, I've started hanging suet baskets (square wire-grid hanging basket w/a lid) in the run, and stuffing it full of lettuce or grass and leaves and roots. It gives them something to do.
    Good Luck!!
  3. farmerpete

    farmerpete In the Brooder

    May 3, 2009
    S.E Texas
    this is farmerpete. I built a 12x12 pen 8ft. tall onto my chicken coop where the older hens roost at night, and ajoining there 40x60 fenced yard. We call it our "nursery". We put our babys out in it as soon as they are old enough and the weather permits. the older chickens can be next to the babys with a fence between them , but not be able to get to them. they grow used to seeing the babys and being around them and likewise the babys get used to the bigger hens. we have had no problem with the older hens when we introduced them to the flock. Also the nursey has 8 nest boxes in it so it can also be used for moving brooding hens into that area.
    Last edited: May 4, 2009
  4. Backyard Farm

    Backyard Farm Certified Personal Chicken Attendant

    Apr 1, 2009
    Now... I didn't do this but knew someone who did.

    She was having a hard time with a very mean hen.

    She made hobbles out of duct tape for this hen. the hen could stand and walk slowly but if she tried to do much else, she would fall. After a few hours, she cut through the duct tape put the hen back in her cage with food and water for awhile.... and patched the hobbles back together.

    She did this for a few days... she had a very humble hen after that.

    ....seems severe ...but it worked for her
    Last edited: May 3, 2009

    FLOWERPOT Songster

    Mar 13, 2008
    Southern Indiana
    The best way I have found to introduce new hens is to seperate just a corner of the coop with chicken wire and keep the new ones in that caged off area, so they can see each other but cannot get to each other. after about a week in the company of each other thru the cage, they are already accustomed to the new ones being there, so there is little fighting, Just the usual pecking order type picking.
  6. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    Here is my story on my experiences putting my pullets with my hens. First I let them all out in the yard together when the pullets were about 12 weeks old and the hens were about 1 1/2 yrs old. I put lots of scratch out for them. It didn't go to well. The hens chased and picked on the pullets terrible so I separated them. They had been in different coops and adjacent runs for over a month prior to the first time I tried to put them together to range. Prior to putting the pullets in a coop, they were in a chicken tractor which was next to the hen's run and yard since they were chicks.

    Every evening for a month, I would take some scratch/seeds/grain mix and sprinkle it in the feed, and on the floor of the coop that I wanted the birds in. I was training them to go into their coops at night. The two coops with adjacent runs had access to a fenced in yard. I put a second pop door into the hen's house so when I eventually put them all together the pullets would have another door to use if needed. Also I had nest boxes in both coops. When I put them together in their yard the last time when the pullets were about 20 weeks, I had two hens that were terrible and jumping on the pullets and pulling their feathers out. I took the two most aggressive hens out and separated them from the rest. They were put into a separate pen for a week where all the rest of the chickens could walk around them see them but couldn't touch. When I did let them out, I put them all together in their yard with plenty of treats and scratch out hopefully to distract them. It worked for the most part, but for one of the hens. She was still very aggressive. When I saw her jump on one of the pullets I put her back in jail for a couple of days then let her out. She was still somewhat aggressive. When I saw her jump on a pullet, I sprayed her with water from a hose which is next to the coop which caught her by surprise. She went running into the coop and didn't come out for awhile. I have repeated the hose caper a few times. She has calmed down since then.

    Since my goal was to eventually get all of the birds to live in one coop, I decided to switch the birds around and put the pullets in the hen's house and the hens in the pullet's coop. I shut the runs off from each other and the yard so they only had access to the coops and runs I put them in. I didn't lock them in the coop. I left the pop doors open to the run for that coop. They could go at free will into their run but not the other run, other coop or their yard for a week. I continued with the treats in the coops in the evenings trying to keep the ritual of evening treats in the coop so they would go in for their treats. After the switch for a week I opened the gates to the runs and yard. I let them all range together. For the next week I let them choose which coop to roost in and most except for 3/4 birds roosted in the hen's house. After a week of free choice coops I shut the pop door on the pullets coop. Now they either had to roost in the hen’s house or in the run. They do have a ladder in their run. There was a little bickering in the beginning at roosting time but all is well now and they have worked out their pecking order. They all roost now in the hen's house. There are pictures on my BYC Page. I don't know if my story will help you in any way. I know every integration/combining of flock are all different and unique.

    Sorry this post is so lengthy.
  7. CATRAY44

    CATRAY44 Lard Cookin Chicken Woman

    I took my mean queen of the hen house, Pearl, aka "Miss Bossypants", and put her in time out for a few days... When I returned her, she was much better behaved... I also made lots of get away places for my new chicken to hide in... pallets tilled against the wall, with pavers bolstering them (no smashed birdies!) Things have gone from my new bird being plucked and terrorized (even in her own cage) to peaceful co existence.

  8. bosmatthews

    bosmatthews Hatching

    Oct 28, 2007
    Thanks to everyone for all your wonderful suggestions! It will be awhile before we can build a separate addition to our coop so I'm hoping just a temporary pen for the bossy girls to acclimate everyone before mixing will work. I'd appreciate any additional advice anyone has about whether they can still roost together at night but we separate (but visible) during the day, or if I need to keep them roosting separately as well (which means they'll be in our barn/garage at night but back in the chicken run in their separated pen (dog crate) during the day. Any thoughts?

    Thanks so much to everyone!!!

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