Please help with merging birds

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by meowteri2, Aug 11, 2011.

  1. meowteri2

    meowteri2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 2 isa browns and one barred rock that are the originals about 17 months old. I have 2 australorps about 19 weeks old that are new. They have been in the coop with a screen divider for about 4 weeks with the other ones. I let the originals out in the run most of the day. Then let the australorps by themselves out with the others locked in the coop. They have been seeing each other in the run and the coop.
    How do I know when the fighting is to much. Is it suppose to be a constant peck fly and run or is it like every 10 minutes a fight. I have them out toghter and they get attacked
    then I put them away. I have read everything about integrating but I feel bad when I see the australorps get attacked. They are such nice calm birds.
    They walk up to each other slowly like everything is going to be ok. Then the flying up and pecking starts. Just wondering what is normal for times between squables. Is it a now and then thing during the day or is it a constant thing for a week?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Since you are free ranging them when you put them together, it should be going better than I think it is from your post.

    Since you don't have roosters, there are two kinds of aggression you need to worry about. One is integration. That is where they recognize each other as members of the same flock. If they don't consider the others part of the same flock, they will try to run them off their territory. Housing them side by side like you did should have helped with that, but maybe you have a hen that just has trouble gettting it. The are living animals and each has its own personality. Sometimes one hen will take it on herself to seek out and destroy the others. You'd think it would be a rooster, and it can be, but usually it is a hen.

    Then you have the pecking order stuff. That's where the ones higher up in the pecking order will defend their private space from those lower down. That kind of pecking is totally normal. The weaker one invades the personal space of the dominant one (or the dominant one will try to keep the other away from the food or water). The dominant one pecks the other and the one lower in the pecking order runs away. Peace is once again restored. But if one of the two does not run away, that is a challenge to the pecking order status and a fight will probably break out to determine which one really is higher. That's where the free ranging should help you. If the weaker does not have room to run away, it can get real serious.

    Some pecking and even fighting is normal when you integrate, especially if the chickens are about the same size. They are determining the pecking order. As long as they are not drawing blood or the fights go on a long time, I'd suggest you let them work it out. If they fight and one very soon runs away, that is not bad. If one pecks the other and one runs away, that is absolutely normal. But if you can identify one instigator with your older hens, the one that starts all this, try keeping her locked up for a few days and let the others roam together. See if they can get along. Then when you let Atillalita the Hunness back out, she may be knocked down enough that she will not be such a problem. And have separate feeding and watering areas,. This cuts down on potential conflict points.

    It will be normal for the two separate flocks to hang in two different flocks as long as they have room. Don't worry about that. They will probably merge into one flock and hang together eventually, but that can take a real long time. And if you can, let them sleep apart for a while. My worst part of integration is on the roosts when they are settling in for the night. I guess they are stuck close together and can't really get away from a mean hen.

    Good luck! Hope this helps.
     
  3. FeistyChikin

    FeistyChikin Out Of The Brooder

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    When I integrated my chickens I noticed an instigator and did exactly what ridgerunner mentioned and locked her up for awhile so that the new chickens could get to know the others. Then once I returned the instigator with her new attitude everything went along just fine. They always seemed to be divided when they were out. The new chickens hanging together and old chickens hanging together, but they got along without fighting. Eventually, after a few weeks everybody had it worked out and they were one flock. It is stressful in the beginning. Good luck!
     
  4. DawnCols

    DawnCols Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't think I can offer any wisdom, but I know it's stressful when the birds attack each other! Good luck.
     
  5. meowteri2

    meowteri2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I let the australorps out yesterday on the outside of the run so the others could see them thru a gate. They are ok on seeing each other things look normal for that. So then I open the gate and let one come over by them. They are a foot away from each other eating grass. Looks like every thing is ok. Then the original goes and bites a aussie in the neck. It looked like a bite to me not a peck. The aussie flaps its wing and screams but does not fight back. It jumps over but does not really run away. So I put the original
    back on the other side of the gate. That original is the lowest on the pecking order. If I have the aussies come out in the run with all 3 originals the other 2 tag team one of them. I have only had them together a few times for a few minutes. It always seems like the aussies are standing there after a attack looking like they don't understand whats happening. They are never chased. Its always like waking calmly up to each other and then it starts. I wish the aussies would run away. The original the bottom of the pecking order still gets a peck from number 2 chicken. But thats all it is a little peck. With the aussies it sounds and looks like the originals want to kill.

    One of the aussies has had its comb and wattle for a while. The other still does not have much showing but the face is getting a little redder. They both look the same feather wise and with size. The one with the comb and wattle has a couple of longer feathers at it sides of the wing. I have never heard it crow. If by chance this was a rooster would it make the originals attack it more?

    I will keep trying with this and see how it goes every day. I have 3 babies in a brooder 4 weeks old. So I need to get the aussies integrated so I can go thru the same thing with the others. One of the 3 babies started crowing the other day so I will have to give it up.
    Thanks for all the help. I am just new to seeing this and it scares me.
     
  6. juliawitt

    juliawitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You are on the right path. I always put new girls in a seperate area first, so they can see and not touch. This usually lasts several weeks. Once I start to integrate, I sit out with them. I have a 'sprayer' filled with water. Some pecking is expected, due to the formation of the flock pecking order. However, out right aggression isn't tolerated. They get a 'squirt' from the sprayer. I sit out squirting for several days. Usually 3 or 4.

    [​IMG]That's me and my squirter....LOL

    I've had really good luck! Integrated 3 times. I just got my 11 weeks old integrated a couple of weeks ago.
    [​IMG]This is a pic from integration of the 4 buff orpingtons. Notice the sprayer and how the Orps are hanging around. Sweet chickens but are still the lowest on the pecking order.

    Best of luck!
     
  7. meowteri2

    meowteri2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I let them in the run yesterday with only 2 of the 3 originals out. The 2 isa browns. I kept the barred rock locked up. The aussies are starting to learn to run. I had them out for about a half hour. But the aussies got so afraid that one jumped to the back rail of my chicken bench and the other flew to the top of the gate on the run. So I put them back in thier half of the coop. I think it might be getting a little better. Glad they realize they should run. Both isa browns took turns walking nicely up to the isa browns and then giving a good peck on the tail , back or neck.
     
  8. meowteri2

    meowteri2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Julia I see I am not the only one with a chicken bench lol.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011
  9. juliawitt

    juliawitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think my husband thought I was crazy when I asked him to put it out there. But, he is hooked also. We do our chores and sit and watch the chickens. We talk about things and just enjoy watching the birds. I remember one post where someone refered to this as chicken television. Great way to bond with each other and you birds. The birds like to sit with us also. LOL as you can see from the pic, sometimes they are a pest.
     
  10. Malita

    Malita Out Of The Brooder

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    We have moved spare patio chairs up by the coop/run to sit with the chickens. When they are free-ranging, I often see them hanging around on the chairs/table waiting for us to join them. If we get there first, they come running. Gives a whole new meaning to hanging out with my 'peeps'. [​IMG]
     

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