Questions about integrating an 11 week old pullet

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by CarolynF, Jul 18, 2011.

  1. CarolynF

    CarolynF Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm integrating an 11 week old pullet into my tiny flock within a run. No free range until fall. I have 2 birds and I'm adding this one. Right now there's a temporary fence separating the old from the new. Today I opened the fence to allow them to mingle a little bit. My #1 hen sort of ignored the newbie teenager, since she's top dog I expected more pecking. My #2 pullet really surprised me and seemingly "went for the jugular". There wasn't any blood, but she really grabbed hold of the youngster's neck!! I intervened and smacked #2 upside the head 3 or 4 times while the newbie ran back to safety. She's always been such a total sweetheart, I was really shocked! It worries me that she's so violent toward this youngster especially when it's just the opposite of her usual behavior.

    What do you think??? Any suggestions on how to proceed?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    If the other two are full sized I would wait til the new one is about the same size.
     
  3. SarahBeth9394

    SarahBeth9394 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 23, 2008
    Prop a peice of wood up against the run fence that only the new girl can fit under so she can hide there when needed. Put a little hay on the other side of the coop than the big girls are with something that will block their view of her. It's so hot here that I don't shut the coop door so when I added my youngins it was a few days till they ventured in.
     
  4. CarolynF

    CarolynF Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Oh... I like that. I don't have a bale of hay but I can figure out something else I think.

    Funny thing happened last night. I went out very late to check on the girls and the youngster was missing. The wire holding the temp. fence shut was unfastened (thought DH had done it but I was wrong) and the fence was separated just a little. I looked inside the coop and guess who'd found her way up the ladder and into the big girls nest box! I would have just left her there because she was obviously happy, but I didn't want to get up at 4:30 to oversee them when they woke up in the morning. So with the help of hubby we got her out and into her temporary home and make-shift nest. What a clever little girl! But not very smart. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2011
  5. CarolynF

    CarolynF Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just thought I'd update what's happening in case anyone else could benefit after me.

    I put a blue recycle box in the pen, tipped on it's end, and located in a corner in such a way as to make a small entryway. She wouldn't go in until I put sand inside, she didn't like walking on plastic I think. If the EE (a petite layer) wants to get in she can, but always stops at the entrance. But the baby will occassionaly dart inside when she's tired of being bullied.

    Yesterday afternoon we made a temporary playpen from extra wire we had on hand. About an 8' circle I'd say. We put all 3 birds inside and used a spray bottle to control any overly aggressive behavior. It worked really well! Sometimes just a few drops sprayed in front of a bird was enough to stop them. Since then we've used the same technique in the run when we have time to stand watch. I've also put the temp. fence back in place to give the youngster a break for at least part of the day. Eventually she gets anxious, paces back and forth at that part of the fence. Apparently she wants the company of the other 2 even if they are sometimes bullies.

    Last night she escaped again and made her way into the coop and nest box one more time. I found her when I did a late night bed check. This time I put her up onto the perch as far away from the others as possible. I watched for a while. The "wicked #2" girl slid over very close, apparently defending the home territory making sure the youngster wouldn't cross the invisible line. [​IMG] Eventually I decided things looked calm enough and went to bed myself. Everyone was in one piece this morning with no war wounds, so I guess if she wants to spend the night in the coop she's earned the right.
     
  6. CarolynF

    CarolynF Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi again,
    Just in case anyone ever reads this I'm posting more on how it's gone. It's been a full week now and the girls are getting along pretty well. The older ones still let the youngster know where her place is in the pecking order. They provide some pretty hefty pecks from time to time but it's never done any physical damage. The recycle bin is still in place but rarely if ever gets used. We named the young one Ruby but a couple days later it changed to Houdini because she's turned into such a great escape artist [​IMG] First it was the escapes at night to get into the coop, then it was her lightning fast escapes when I open the pen door. (luckily she goes only a couple of feet and returns easily when offered a treat). Then when I put her into the "playpen" on the grass she somehow escaped and came scurrying back to the pen where I was cleaning! Go figure!

    At first she was reluctant to jump up to the perch and chose to sleep in the nest box instead. I didn't want that to become a habit, so I put in a piece of 4x4 wood. That worked, and I hope she will soon move up to the perch with the others.

    She's learned to give the big girls a wide berth when they're eating, but other than that they play together fairly well. Not too bad for just a week.
     
  7. simpsoncj

    simpsoncj Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm glad you didn't give up and that it's working out for you new chick! Integrating usually just takes patience and a keen eye at first. I just wanted to say that the #2 hen was taking advantage of the opportunity to be above someone. Perfectly normal.
    CJ
     
  8. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

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    You really can't smack them to have them get along. They have to sort it out like chickens. In the meantime, put alot of obstacles in there so the little one can run for cover.

    I don't know if it works all the time, but I've put the new one in their yard for a few days and the others in another place. Then let them back to their old place in a few days. It worked on my silkies, I don't know if it works for everyone.
     
  9. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    I make a safe place the younger birds can escape to. I fixed up a cage with some wire where my younger birds could escape from my older ones. They figured it out pretty quick that they could go into the cage and the older birds couldn't. The younger ones would come out but when the older birds went after them they escaped into their cage. I did put food and water in the cage. Slowly the younger birds came out more and the older birds didn't chase and pick on them as much. Now they are all living in harmony.
     
  10. CarolynF

    CarolynF Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:That didn't sound good, did it. In hind sight it was more like me playing the part of "boss hen". [​IMG]
    Pecking order is definitely defined & maintained with a hefty peck on the head, neck, or body. Not being able to peck, I used a "smack". Later I got out a spray bottle and when the pecking got out of hand they got a quick squirt. It doesn't stop the process, but it gives the younger one a chance to scurry to safety. They actually began to recognize the spray bottle and when one of us picked it up they would turn and walk the other direction! [​IMG] While we were near the run, holding the bottle, things were pretty quiet, giving the young one a short respite from the constant darting and running. When I could I removed the big girls to a "play pen" I constructed on the lawn. They enjoyed the change and the little one got to eat and water in peace for a longer stretch of time.
     

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