Rooster dying - should I combine flocks now?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Snegurochka, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. Snegurochka

    Snegurochka In the Brooder

    Apr 7, 2011
    Southern Indiana
    Wanted to get everybody's opinion on this. My 6-yr-old EE roo (Muad'dib) has been acting ill for a few weeks, and tonight he is sleeping in the nest box. If he lasts the night, I have a feeling he will probably die sometime tomorrow or soon after. (Pretty sure it's natural--both his wives died this past year. He's been acting like he's too tired to stand up, and has just been lounging in the coop for the last week.)

    I knew he was getting old so this spring I bought 5 straight-run Welsummers, 3 of which turned out to be roos; I also have three other pullets. All eight live together in a separate chicken hutch, with their own run. My plan has always been to move the pullets to the coop when they were big enough (which they are--20 weeks old now), and leave the 3 cockerels in the hutch until Muad'dib dies.

    However, I also hatched two chicks in June from Muad'dib, one of which is looking to be a boy, so the pair of them will never be able to be put with the other chickens (it would be too cruel to separate them). I only have two chicken pens. The best solution I can see is for everyone to end up in the coop except for the two 8-wk-olds, who will have the hutch to themselves. That will make 3 cockerels in the coop, and 11 hens (I did plan to get rid of at least one of the cockerels, but until I see signs of over-mating I'm not going to fret over it; the two junior cockerels are so timid that it may not be an issue).

    My question is: If Muad'dib dies tomorrow, should I take advantage of the confusion and move all eight 20-wk-olds into the coop? Or should I give my older girls (6 of them, ages 2-4) time to get over the shock? After all, he's taken care of them for their entire lives, and it seems mean to throw three strange cockerels at them so soon. (Although, only Ajax, the senior one, seems to be sexually mature so the hens probably wouldn't be overpowered.)

    Second question: Ajax got loose two weeks ago and ran up to the other run. My Sussex went nuts; the two of them were trying to kill each other through the fence. It's not him, it's her; she freaked out when the two babies were visiting too. She sticks out her neck feathers like a betta fish and growls and jumps at the fence. I'm afraid that when the flocks are combined, she's going to peck somebody's eyes out (or just as likely, Ajax will seriously injure her). When the integration eventually happens, should I lock her up in the broody cage until everyone else settles in? She's the youngest of my adult hens, so I've never had to introduce her to someone new before. Does anyone have tips for dealing with an extremely aggressive hen?

  2. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    Let them all see one another through a fence for a few days or a week first. As for the aggressive hen, she may act different once she's been exposed to the others through wire for a while. I had two hens I introduced this way and one did just what you say your Sussex does at first. But after a couple days of seeing the others through wire she settled down.
  3. Snegurochka

    Snegurochka In the Brooder

    Apr 7, 2011
    Southern Indiana
    Thanks for the reply. Muad'dib went out to the run today but he is still just lying around so I guess he's finally feeling his age. The poor hens are just hanging out next to him, keeping him company. I'm sort of shocked at how nice and respectful they're being.

    The pullets/cockerels were originally in the coop in a little integration pen, but my dad moved them to the new hutch while I was out of town. The issue is that now they're full-grown, and I don't think they can fit back in it. The coop itself is just 7X8-ish so there's not room to build a bigger integration system. I might end up taking the run from my retirement coop (which I am planning to dismantle due to raccoon problems) and lean it up against the current chicken run, and carry them all over to it one day to let them reacquaint themselves. It's about to collapse but I might not have a choice at this rate.

    So nobody thinks it's a good idea to take advantage of the pecking-order confusion once he goes? I've never done it that way, personally, that's why I was curious.
  4. boxermom&nowchicks

    boxermom&nowchicks In the Brooder

    May 31, 2011
    Cold Spring, KY
    Hey, I'm sorry to hear about Muad'dib.I hope he goes easy -I always wish that for my animals.Since I am new at keeping chickens, I am interested in what you do to integrate your flocks, so could you please keep updating?


    By the way I love the name; I once had a Persian cat named Chani.

  5. BooBear

    BooBear Chicken Cuddler

    Oct 7, 2010
    Conroe, Texas
    Quote:I think you have a good idea to use the old retire coop for an integration pen. Even though the pecking order may go through some changes upon his death, it would still be best to slowly introduce the new group through an integration pen.
    The aggressive hen is protecting her territory from strangers. This is how your older flock sees the new group right now. The integration pen will change that by bringing the 2 groups together in a way that they cannot hurt each other.

    Hope all goes well.
  6. foxypoproxy

    foxypoproxy Songster

    Aug 2, 2011
    Madison, CT
    when a chicken in my flock dies i always let my other chickens see the body they go up to it and then they understand what happened to it.
    I find they think its easier to accept when they have clarification that it died instead of me taking it away and them never seeing it again.

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