Trouble introducing new hens to a flock

greggooo

Happy Chickens!
Aug 29, 2017
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Woodstock, NY
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Has anyone had trouble introducing new hens to their flock? We have our original flock of 6 chickens and decided to add three more hens. We rescued 3 adult hens instead of buying chicks or pullets.

We quarantined them for 30 days, took one to the vet for tests, and then started letting them see each other through a fenced off area in the yard to get used to each other. After almost two weeks, we removed the fence. Not a huge amount of fighting, but the groups are completely isolated. Our original hens and even our rooster won't go near the new ones. They just seem stressed out. One of the new hens will clearly be the top hen, she approaches any other hen near her, and all but the rooster will run from her.

So what do I do? I built a brand new coop, so they all had a new place to live. How do I stick them all in together? The new hens are still sleeping in my dining room!! Is it always this stressful, or is it because I treat the original flock like pets and just feel bad?
 

rosemarysugar

Songster
Mar 1, 2018
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Meeker, Colorado
Has anyone had trouble introducing new hens to their flock? We have our original flock of 6 chickens and decided to add three more hens. We rescued 3 adult hens instead of buying chicks or pullets.

We quarantined them for 30 days, took one to the vet for tests, and then started letting them see each other through a fenced off area in the yard to get used to each other. After almost two weeks, we removed the fence. Not a huge amount of fighting, but the groups are completely isolated. Our original hens and even our rooster won't go near the new ones. They just seem stressed out. One of the new hens will clearly be the top hen, she approaches any other hen near her, and all but the rooster will run from her.

So what do I do? I built a brand new coop, so they all had a new place to live. How do I stick them all in together? The new hens are still sleeping in my dining room!! Is it always this stressful, or is it because I treat the original flock like pets and just feel bad?


First of all, don't worry everything will be ok. We have been through the same thing and what it takes is time. You're right, they are all very stressed out. They will stick together with their buddies until they become more comfortable. They WILL eventually intermingle. I would put them together, keep an eye throughout the day to make sure all are safe, and maybe separate at night so they don't argue when they are locked up and you can't see. Gradually introduce them at night. They will scuffle a bit but that is how they settle the pecking order. It's been about a year for us and they are all settled in and then new girls are at the bottom of the pecking order and the older ones remind them occasionally but there is no serious fighting. It's more like "I want the food bowl right now, buzz off" and they go back in a few minutes. So be patient and keep an eye on them. Even though things seem like a mess right now and you are probably wondering if this was a good idea, all will be fine.
 

rosemarysugar

Songster
Mar 1, 2018
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Meeker, Colorado
Also, can you put a divider up in the coop so the new girls are outside but safe at night? That's what we did until we felt confident that there wouldn't be a war in there all night.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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Nov 27, 2012
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we removed the fence. Not a huge amount of fighting, but the groups are completely isolated.
How long has it been since the fence has been down?

What does your coop look like?
Size (in feet by feet) and pics (inside and out) might help here.
The link for your 'My Coop' you have going to pinterest is no help ;)

Do you have a run or all free range?
 

greggooo

Happy Chickens!
Aug 29, 2017
199
221
141
Woodstock, NY
My Coop
My Coop
How long has it been since the fence has been down?

What does your coop look like?
Size (in feet by feet) and pics (inside and out) might help here.
The link for your 'My Coop' you have going to pinterest is no help ;)

Do you have a run or all free range?

The new coop is 9.5 x 6, so 57sf and 6 to 7 feet tall. The run is 10x14 and they have a large section of the yard outside, fenced in covered with an aviary net.

The temporary fence has been down a week, they were in it seeing each other for a week and a half.

As of now, I let all of them in the entire area all day, but I have been putting the new 3 in the dining room at night still. There aren't as many scuffles as there were initially, but my original birds are still freaked out by the new ones.

Is the next step just putting the new birds in at night when it's dark and then getting up early to make sure theres no bloodshed?
IMG_5419.HEIC.jpeg
IMG_5927.JPG
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
94,902
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SW Michigan
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Is the next step just putting the new birds in at night when it's dark and then getting up early to make sure theres no bloodshed?
You could try that..can be catastrophic tho.
Is the old coop still accessible?
Interesting that the birds are afraid of the new birds,
your existing birds are adults too, right?
Have the new bird been in the coop at all?
 

greggooo

Happy Chickens!
Aug 29, 2017
199
221
141
Woodstock, NY
My Coop
My Coop
You could try that..can be catastrophic tho.
Is the old coop still accessible?
Interesting that the birds are afraid of the new birds,
your existing birds are adults too, right?
Have the new bird been in the coop at all?

The old birds are a year and a half old, supposedly older than the new ones. I'm going on what the man who sold them to me said. Half of my birds really panic around the new ones.

And yes, the new ones have wondered in and out of all of the spaces, and actually try and roost at night before the original birds go to bed. The old coop is still accessible, but it's not open at the moment. It will be "the beach", their permanent dust bath for the winter. But it is still there and has roosts.
 

MANNA-PRO

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