Problems integrating a new hen

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by bpeikes, Dec 1, 2009.

  1. bpeikes

    bpeikes New Egg

    Sep 9, 2007
    I originally had two hens, a Turken and a Polish. I received two more from a friend, another Turken and an Ameraucana. I decided that I would introduce them one at a time at night, just to see how it would go. The first night I snuck the new Turken in. The next day, everything seemed fine, a little picking on from the Polish, but nothing bad. By the end of that day everything seemed in order.

    The next evening I snuck in the Ameraucana. The next morning was not pretty. I came down and found her with her head hidden in a corner, with two of the other chickens unmercilously pecking at her. I pulled her out of the run. She seemed more or less fine. Just shaken up. For the next couple of days, when possible, I'd let the four roam in the backyard outside the run and coop. With more space to run, the Ameraucana (named her Cindy after Cinderella), could get away when anyone charged her. The other three retrurned to the coop at night, and I let Cindy sleep outside in a tree that she hopped up into.

    I've tried this for a couple of days, and it seemed like over time the flock warmed up to her, so I put her in the run. The next morning I found the same thing happening. Head down in the corner, and getting pecked, mostly by the Polish. I immediately pulled her out. She had a small abrasion on her head, but otherwise seemed fine. So I went back to allowing some free range action. I also added a roosting stick across the middle of the run. I figured that I should give her a place that she could jump up to if they were pestering her.

    A couple more days of freeranging and I put her back in. Everything seems fine, i.e. they all go back into the coop at night to sleep, but during the day, if I don't let them free range, Cindy spends the entire day sitting up on the outdoor roost. It now seems that for the most part, that there is only the Polish chicken which picks on her.

    I'd hate to have Cindy spend her life living on a roost outside. Any ideas on how to integrate? I've tried playing the Big Hen. Going in the run, and waiting for the Polish to run at Cindy. Then I "swoop" in and give her a peck with a finger. It seems to put her off for a couple of minutes.

    I also tried taking the Polish out for a couple of days and keeping her caged. Although Cindy seems to be fine in the coop/run with the other two, as soon as I add the Polish back in, it starts all over again.
  2. jerseygirl1

    jerseygirl1 Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 20, 2009
    Orange County, NY
    This is what I've done twice, and it works
    I got a large metal dog crate and put the new chicks inside, with food, water, etc.
    The dog crate stays in the coop with the other chickens..............for 30 days
    Little by little, when my older ones go out to free range, I let the new ones out for exercise
    I did this off and on for two weeks
    So far, it has worked
    There is always going to be some pecking going on, but no bloodshed.
    They can all see each other and get used to each other
  3. bpeikes

    bpeikes New Egg

    Sep 9, 2007
    I tried something similar with a cage, but they pecked at her through th bars and she had nowhere to run. I was thinking about just sitting outside with a stick so I could "peck" at the aggressor when she jumped her.
  4. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    Do they have plenty of room in the coop and run? Not enough, and introductions can be difficult. I would continue to free-range them together, it is great that you can do that. If you can, section off part of the run for her, with her own little house, or put her in a cage in the coop at night. I have had the best luck with this "see but don't touch" method if I can do this for 3 weeks, then put them together. Watch carefully when they are together at first so no blood is drawn, and make sure all have access to food and water (may need an extra feeder for a while).
  5. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    I would introduce more than one at a time... and at night.
  6. cicene mete

    cicene mete Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 19, 2008
    Quote:I covered my cage with deer netting. That way, the beaks were unable to get through (not for lack of trying, though [​IMG] )

    It also sounds like the Polish might need to be in "chicken jail" for more than two days. If she is the primary culprit, you might need to integrate the others while she sits in jail for four or five days. By then, the pecking order should have been really shaken up.
  7. cobrien

    cobrien Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 16, 2009
    Oakland, CA
    I second the idea of chicken jail for the Polish bully since it sounds like you are down to one bully.

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