Tolerance versus acceptance :)

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by alicek4, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. alicek4

    alicek4 In the Brooder

    Jul 13, 2012
    I have a small flock of 6 I bought last year (2 sex links, 3 RIR hens, and one accidental (woops!) RIR rooster. They free range on 100 acres and only use their coop to sleep at night and lay(we close it after they roost at night, open it early each morning). I bought 2 Easter Egger hens in early August. I purposely bought 2 because I wanted them to have a buddy in this new setting. I did all of the things I have read here to introduce them -- kept them in their own area inside the pen so they were near but could not be bothered for a while (2 weeks), then let them out to explore their new environment alone (several days for several hours)and then let the original flock out with them. They had plenty of places to hide, and it went well -- no one has gotten bullied. The new chicks either stay with them at a distance (this is less of the time) or somewhere else altogether (most of the time). The only problem is that the original hens have still not 'accepted' them as part of the flock. They have to roost elsewhere in the coop (currently they are on top of the nesting boxes at night) and they do not really want to go in there, sometimes they have to be chased in. I witnessed one of them try to go into the roost with the others once and it was chased out. They chase them away from any treats I toss to them. So my questions are: Is this unusual? Did I do something wrong? Would forcing them together make them more friendly (seems like a bad idea)? Is it possible that when they get a bit more mature (and sexy, don't ya know), the rooster will then become interested? Would this make the other hens start to include them? Or shall I prepare to always manage 2 flocks? We are going to build a new coop and intended to make 2 sections, divided by wire so they could all use it but be separated, so the new chicks will not have to roost on the nesting boxes. Another thing - I intend to buy 2 more hens next year and would rather they all roost together, not just because of the social aspects but for warmth. Any tips in helping them all just get along?
    TIA :)
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013
  2. write2caroline

    write2caroline Songster

    Jun 21, 2009
    They may never run together as one flock. Chicks raised together flock together. I am sure there are circumstances where some have blended but my experience was not that way. I initially had two hens and ordered 5 more but they never blended, I got another batch of chicks and they stayed together in a third flock. We had a few losses and I ordered more pullets and they started to blend with the single hen from the first batch but she was low on the pecking order.
    It is just the way it is.

  3. To start in the middle and work outward, you did nothing wrong, however you are trying to impose human values onto hens, a difficult if not impossible task.. If we'll just think about it for a few seconds there is a good reason that we call older women who are petulant, crabby, self centered or selfish, old biddies or old hens because this is exactly how old hens act.

    Your hens are "bullying" the new girls because they can, and it is acceptable or expected chicken behavior and it has been expected and acceptable chicken behavior for millenniums, acceptable behavior for a chickens that is.

    I suspect that if one of the new pullets becomes a sexual favorite of your rooster that he may step in and do her heavy fighting if she is attacked but he will be unwilling to reason with the rest of your flock. Your original 6 hens have still not nor will they ever accepted each other in the sense of being equals in the chicken society of "perfect" sisterhood. There is still an alpha, beta, epsilon, and so forth hen in your original 6. If you want to keep tabs on your alpha hen find her and note the spot that she roosts in each day. If her roosting spot changes her health (and thus her place in the pecking order) has taken a nose dive and the best roosting spot will be filled by a formerly lower ranking hen.

    Forcing them to all bunk or live together may be the quickest way to integrate your hens into one flock but there are dangers to your new as well at to your old hens. It also will be hard for the squeamish to watch. The simple fact is that the two new pullets ranged and tried to bunk in separate quarters is proof that your original flock is bulling the new arrivals. All 8 of your hens are chickens and they don't need to do a single thing to bully a younger member of the flock, it just comes with the territory or from the simple fact that they are chickens. This is why I do not recommend a mixed breed flock. Chickens are all bullies already and we only create more so called bullying" by
    maintaining a mixed flock of big hens and a subgroup of smaller or younger chickens that can only be call "targets."

    In your mind you may have bought 2 new hens but your words say that you purchased two young pullets, the perfect target for your older hens to bully.

    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I wouldn't separate them or manage them as two flocks, just manage them as one. It's pretty common for a flock to have cliques, and there's really nothing you can do about it. Time may help some, or some birds just may never really spend time together. It's nothing to worry about, I can guarantee the hens aren't getting all angsty "why don't the other birds like me?", they're just living their chicken lives.
  5. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Songster

    Sep 4, 2013
    Lower Alabama
    What chickengeorge said.
    Every time I mix chickens it takes a month or so before the old grumpy hens start to tolerate the new pullets and they won't actually accept until they are full grown grumpy old hens just like themselves. Even then they don't do the big happy family thing; they still seperate into their own social groups when they hit the field and the roosts.
    The only time I intervene is when there's a severe roost bully that kicks the new birds off the roost.
    When I catch a roost bully in the act I look at her right leg; if she has a white zip tie wrapped twice around her leg that means she's been previously tagged as a roost bully so throw her in a different pen for a week until the new birds adjust. If she has no white zip tie I simply pick her up and set her on the other side of the rooster.
  6. sepaditty1

    sepaditty1 Songster

    Mar 29, 2008
    South Carolina
    We had 11 chickens that we got in 2 batches. The batches came only a few weeks apart, so none of them were full grown. But, it's true. The ones that brood together, flock together. Never fighting, just mostly ignoring.

    One group had 4 hens and 1 rooster. The other had 4 hens and 2 roosters. What has been really interesting is to see how the pecking order has changed. One hen from flock 1 didn't make it. Our main rooster from flock 1 had to be culled. His 4 girls still stayed by themselves. The little bantam rooster from group 2 sacrificed himself for the girls. That left us with 7 hens and only our meek, subordinate (but huge!) roo.

    On day #2 of his alpha-ness he crowed for the first time. A day or 2 later he started "spending some time with the girls." Now, all 7 hens flock together with this one rooster.

    Amazing how they just have a hierarchy and work it all out.

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