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Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by PouleChick, Mar 18, 2018.

  1. PouleChick

    PouleChick Crowing

    Apr 6, 2016
    SW France
    Hi me again :frow(I bet you old timers just love us newbies and our billion and one questions :lol:).

    A quick background to my little new flock. I bought some small but feathered chicks at Christmas time (a sussex, a harco and a Lohmann Brown). They were in separate brooders I believe and just came home together (only 5/7 weeks) with no issues at all. I have been trying to source some Silkies since then to use as mummy hens but the weather and coop building and finding some in colours I wanted conspired against me so instead of happening a couple of months ago I only got them 2 weeks ago.

    The 2 silkies are between 1 and 2 and both laying. I have them in a separate coop and I have fenced of their own private run in the corner of the day run and the big girls are in the main bit so they can all see each other. On 2 occasions they got to each other, the first was one of the silkies (the more dominant one) got out as I was sorting a bit of fence and one of the others ran over and pecked her. I managed to get her back behind the fence quick smart. Then a few days ago the gate blew open when I was in seeing to the silkies and the big girls wandered in, I just observed and for a few minutes it all seemed well, they were just pecking the ground and being right next to each other etc. Then suddenly they started chasing Hermione (I think Clem' the Lohmann who attacked her the first day started it - she is smallest and I guess lowest on the pecking order although hard to tell as they all just get on so well) I thought I'd let them just see if they could work it out but then they had her pinned to the ground and were pecking her head and pulling her hair :hit- Mabel the Sussex who is also 2 weeks older and quite a lot bigger seemed to take over being the meanest and was the one pinning her down. At that point I ran over and shooed them off and grabbed poor Hermione (who let me hold her and give her a cuddle for the first time!). I know it was too early to try and from then on I've been very careful to fasten the gate every time evne if I'm just going in for a second. The weird thing was they seemed to just totally ignore Doris (the other silkie) one of the hens even kind of sniffed her / put her face right up (maybe trying to work out what she is - she has a total round puffball head!).

    My plan was to have an intergarted flock and I was hoping having adult silkies (they are not the bantam ones either) to the not even laying (Mabel is 19 weeks the other 2 are 17 weeks) that I may be able to do it but now I'm seriously questioning it.

    Hopefully the big girls will move into thier coop tomorrow (if we are feeling well enough - dreaded flu lurgy in our house). I just cna't imagine trying to intergrate them after what I saw but don't know if I'm being too soft and it was just normal. The small coop is OK for temporary accommodation for the silkies but wouldn't want to keep them in there permanently and would also like to have them hatch babies and not room for that with both (although I planned it as a future brooder / hospital coop). Part of the plan was that they would bring up the chicks so there wouldn't be intergration issues with new chickens but that clearly won't work if the silkies and my 3 big girls can't get on! The new main coop will hopefully be built in the autumn so I'm wondering if by then they will be used to each other and that would be a good time but if there is then chicks then it will get complicated again! I'm quite happy to run a totally seperate coop (just don't tell my hubby :hmm:lau):lau and run if I need to but see so many flocks in this area happily running all sizes of chickens together I thought it would be OK!

    • Does anyone think it is even worth trying and if so how / when I should go about it?
    • Is pinning down normal or is that proper bullying?
    • If I need to intervene (either if / when I try to integrate or if there is another jail break) what techniques should I use?
    • Also any tips on when to intervene (other than the blood thing)? I'm guessing with Silkies there has to be a lower tolerance due to the vaulted head issue?
    Thanks in advance for your thoughts and help.
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    It is normal.

    Silkies tend to be victims and get picked on by full size birds. I have never had silkies, but that is what I have heard.

    What does your run look like, how much space do you have? If it is just an empty space, it is just a 2 dimensional space, length x width, that could be part of the problem too.

    Adding roosts in the run, pallets up on block whereas birds can get under them for shade or bask on top of them for sunshine, a pallet leaned up against a fence gives a little privacy for a moment out of sight of the others. An old chair, saw horses, a ladder, all will make your run look more cluttered, but much more interesting to your birds.

    I call it curtseying to the queen. When two birds come together there are these options, one hen can move away, curtseying and saying, I agree with you, you hare higher in pecking order. It is best if this bird can move completely out of sight. What often happens, in wide open spaces, she cannot move out of sight, and the dominant bird takes this as an insult, and attacks to prove her point.

    I don't really have experience with the silkies, but integrations can be a challenge, sometimes they get over it, sometimes they don't. I won't have a bully or a victim in my flock, makes too much drama. Always solve for the peace of the flock.

    Mrs K
    ps, we love to give advice, thats why we come here!
    PouleChick likes this.
  3. PouleChick

    PouleChick Crowing

    Apr 6, 2016
    SW France
    Thanks for your reply Mrs K. That makes me feel better (I think ;))
    Hmmmm this could be part of it. They have a hazel tree (but more a bush than a tree) and actually she did run behind that when they got her. There is also a leant up pallet but I've not yet done any of the outdoor perches or anything like that i have planned yet as the weather has just been so dire! The current day run is 3/3.5 metres x about 10 metres long (so 10/12 feet x 30 feet). Again long term this will be bigger but more than enough space for them all to be happy I would have thought. Maybe I need to get onto that before I try to do any integration!
    See this is great info - it is the 'normal behavior' and social nuances that I just dont' know about yet and knowing obviously makes it easier to know what is going on and help them.
    No i don't want that either - I'm already partially planning in my head how to sort out a silkie coop as I'd rather that than unhappy chickens. The others all get on so well.
    Thank goodness for that :lol:
  4. ChickNanny13

    ChickNanny13 Crossing the Road

    Jun 23, 2013
    The Big Island/Hawaii
    You may want to research this but I've read somewhere here, Silkies (never had them) have a soft spot on the top of their heads. Careful if the LF pecks them there.
  5. PouleChick

    PouleChick Crowing

    Apr 6, 2016
    SW France
    I just wanted to update. I have pretty much left them alone to be separate with the 2 runs along side for a couple of weeks as I got so upset about Hermione being pecked the last time when I posted. The other day I let them have some time together and it was fine then a bit of pecking but then OK then I seperated them when it got a bit testy again. Yesterday I thought I'd try again with supervised mingling and again there was some aggression from bottom of the ladder chicken (Clementine) towards the silkies (well Hermione the head Silkie really) but then they seemed to get over it, Hermione learnt to go hide if need be and was really doing what i'm guessing is some subservient crouching thing (if anyone can link me to info about this crouching as my just becoming adult girls (21/19 weeks) are doing it to me too!) which seems to help - I watched carefully and there is some fairly gentle pecking now when she does that (and I've seen her do far stronger pecks to Doris her silkie mate!). So all in all I'm thrilled and they have now had the 2 runs open for 2 days so I'm goign to take up the wire in between. We are also hopefully (weather dependant again!!!!!) going to move them to the new coop tomorrow so I'm hoping I can no put all 5 of them in there happily (although Hermione seems to be rather attached to the nesting box today so we'll see!).
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    It's called 'squatting' can be either a totally submissive behavior(submitting to a dominant bird) or a sexual behavior(ready to be mated..and lay eggs). At 19 and 21 weeks could mean they are close to laying.
  7. PouleChick

    PouleChick Crowing

    Apr 6, 2016
    SW France
    Thanks @aart that makes sense - Hermione is definitely doing it as a submissive thing (which she wasn't doing when they first were attacking her). Not sure of what they are doing to be I'm guessing submissive but we have had 2 of them lay their first eggs in the last 3 days so :weeyes they are at maturity and just realised my calender wasnt' turned over so they are actually 20 and 22 weeks!
    2nd full day of being together in the run and they are all very happy I haven't seen any pecking at all today :ya:yaJust shows that patience and perseverance and lots of space can work out in the end :wee:wee

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