Tips on introducing two youngsters to one mature hen?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Expat Hen, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. Expat Hen

    Expat Hen Hatching

    Sep 9, 2013
    Hi all,

    I'm looking for some advice on introducing some new hens.

    Due to the recent death of her sister I have been left with one lonely-looking (yes, I know I'm projecting...) chicken. She's getting on a bit and has pretty much stopped laying but I don't have the heart to cull her. And part of the appeal for me was to have hens clucking around as much as for the eggs.

    Anyway. I'd like to get her a couple of companions. My contact has some 12-week-olds available. I don't have the set-up to keep them separate. I have a house where they retire at night which will be big enough for three, and then they free range in our secure compound during the day. The house isn't lockable, they let themselves in and out. I'm not too concerned about the fighting during the day as there is plenty of room for them to avoid each other if they wish.

    My first question is: Is that a good age to introduce them, or should I wait until they are older to take collection?

    Second question: Will they be okay in the house together at night or should I make any amends to this arrangement when introduction new hens?

    Any finally, any other hints or tips are welcome!

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    They are living animals. There is no way to know for sure what will happen. Chickens are social animals. They do like being part of a flock. That older hen will outrank the younger ones in the pecking order. There is no way to know beforehand if she will make their life miserable at night or leave them alone. In your set-up, the only real risky time is when they are settling down to sleep. Once it gets dark they should be fine. And since you don’t lock them up at night, they can leave in the morning if she starts bullying them.

    Chickens can be perverse creatures. That hen could easily want their company and constantly strive to be near the two new ones yet peck them when they are close. Or she may not bother them at all, just want to be close. But you are right. During the day they should be able to work that out.

    It all depends on the personality of that older hen. I’ve had three different broodies raise chicks with my flock this year. Those chicks could pretty much leave Mama’s immediate protection and wander among the other adult chickens with very few problems. I have had some flocks where the chicks would be attacked if they tried that.

    I don’t know what I’d do in your situation. The ideal solution would be to get pullets that have started laying. They can usually make their way in the pecking order by then.

    I think I’d try it and expect one of two results. Everything may go fine, though there could be some pecking and such involved. There is a rule of thumb on here that as long as not blood is drawn they will work it out. The other result could easily be that the pullets decide to not sleep on the roost with that older hen but find a safer place to sleep, inside or outside that coop. At 12 weeks they might not even be roosting yet. With them being living animals they may come up with their own third option.
  3. Expat Hen

    Expat Hen Hatching

    Sep 9, 2013
    Thanks for the tips, and the reassurance, Ridgerunner, much appreciated. With regards the pullets choosing somewhere else to roost at night, that seems like it would be fine. And I guess once things settle down I could try and encourage them back in the house anyway.

    The older hen was the dominant of the original two, but I never saw any pecking as that must have already been established.

    I'm trying to find out whether I can get any slightly older ones but if not I think I'll just go for it. Whilst looking out for blood and keeping my fingers crossed of course!

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