Trying to Integrate a Single Hen

PonyRaindrop

Songster
5 Years
Feb 25, 2016
50
28
111
Michigan
Hello BYC!
I have a rather bossy hen that I am trying to integrate into my flock of six (five hens, one rooster).
Prior to living with me, she was alone free ranging at a farm for quite a while. She has been through quarantine already.
I did the “see but no touch” method for a few days and she was in a chicken tractor next to the run (three inches between tractor and run) there was some pecking and puffing up but by the third day they have no interest. I let the solo hen out of the tractor to get closer and they start puffing up and fighting. So I take her away. The next two days I do the same thing, and the fighting dies down to almost nothing.
I decide to try and let her with them. I let the flock out and bring them away from the coop about 25 feet. I give them bird seed so they are happy and distracted, and then place the single hen next to them. She is happy and eating for about 15 seconds, sees the top hen in my flock, and they go at it fighting and pecking. By the time I get her she is chasing the other hen. Luckily there weren’t any injuries to worth noting, the only thing that happened was a bite to the comb and some blood.
A few days pass and I decide to try and put her in a dog crate in the run of the coop. I give them bird seed, she is puffed up and angry but none of my flock cares much, and the hen that she got into a fight with is staying as far away as she can.
About thirty minutes later and everyone is relatively fine. I let them out together using the same method I did the first time. Four of my five hens see her and run, one of them stick around for the bird seed but makes sure to stay at least two feet away from her at all times, and my rooster could care less.
So I walk back to the coop and watch them from a distance. Well they all come running towards me because i have the cup of seed in my hand. The single hen goes after two chickens, but this time they are terrified after one peck and scatter. I grab her and put her back into the tractor. The flock does back into the coop. And I am wondering what to do.
Am I making the mistake of going too fast? Or maybe should I let them rough it out? I was expecting her to be the one getting beat up, but it seems to be the other way around. I’m at a loss. Any help or tips would be appreciated. Thanks!
 

azygous

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
28,071
45,720
1,232
Colorado Rockies
You're right, it's a bit unusual the new hen is so assertive right out of the chute. It's actually a positive development. She's sure of herself and is keen on claiming a spot in the pecking order, and she may not be satisfied with an entry level position.

Challenges and some skirmishes are normal when a new chicken is introduced because it shakes up the entire pecking order. Usually, it's all resolved, with or without a minor spilling of blood, in just a few hours, usually a lot less.

You know your flock and I'm sure you have good reason to be concerned about the smaller individuals. You will need to keep an eye on them to make sure they aren't becoming victims of the more ambitious social climbers. Space is your friend. Make plenty available so the more timid ones have a way to avoid conflicts they aren't keen on taking part in.
 

PonyRaindrop

Songster
5 Years
Feb 25, 2016
50
28
111
Michigan
You're right, it's a bit unusual the new hen is so assertive right out of the chute. It's actually a positive development. She's sure of herself and is keen on claiming a spot in the pecking order, and she may not be satisfied with an entry level position.

Challenges and some skirmishes are normal when a new chicken is introduced because it shakes up the entire pecking order. Usually, it's all resolved, with or without a minor spilling of blood, in just a few hours, usually a lot less.

You know your flock and I'm sure you have good reason to be concerned about the smaller individuals. You will need to keep an eye on them to make sure they aren't becoming victims of the more ambitious social climbers. Space is your friend. Make plenty available so the more timid ones have a way to avoid conflicts they aren't keen on taking part in.
Thanks for the reply!
This makes me feel much better about her attitude towards the other hens.:)
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
10,380
16,111
726
western South Dakota
Try this, take a pretty high powered squirt gun, one that will shoot a good distance. Put them all together, and when she starts chasing one, give her a good squirt. A couple of times might just slow her down a bit. Or you could add pin-less peepers to her. That often times stops the chase point blank, and after a few weeks can easily be removed and the fracas is over.

I think she will be the top hen, I wonder how old your rooster is? It sounds as if he is rather a bit young. I am wondering if you flock is a bit young and the hen is older? Are the original birds laying? If so time will really help this.

I am a pretty big proponent to using a lot of clutter, hideouts, blind spots, and roosts in the run, and not separating the birds. Every time you separate the birds, they start over. If birds can get away from each other, out of sight of each other, a lot of aggression is reduced. Once the lower bird moves away, and gets out of sight, the fight is over.

Often what happens is that it is an open space, and there is no way to get out of sight, so the attack continues. This might be true of your free range space too.

Mrs K
 

BaaKaaawk

Coopster
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Apr 4, 2011
946
3,008
361
Lexington, KY
Try this, take a pretty high powered squirt gun, one that will shoot a good distance. Put them all together, and when she starts chasing one, give her a good squirt. A couple of times might just slow her down a bit.
Mrs K

So... can I uh... just do this for fun Mrs K?
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
10,380
16,111
726
western South Dakota
Well I am not suggesting doing it every day, it is just an easy way to break up an attack a distance away from you. And the birds are not often quite sure what happened, so they do not associate you with the breaking up. You are hoping that the aggressive bird thinks this weak bird has special powers....jk

Baakawk - you can do anything you want with YOUR birds, but I would not.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
104,081
155,871
1,867
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
I did the “see but no touch” method for a few days
Might not have been long enough.

I think she will be the top hen, I wonder how old your rooster is? It sounds as if he is rather a bit young. I am wondering if you flock is a bit young and the hen is older? Are the original birds laying?
Yes, @PonyRaindrop how old are all the birds involved?
 

PonyRaindrop

Songster
5 Years
Feb 25, 2016
50
28
111
Michigan
Try this, take a pretty high powered squirt gun, one that will shoot a good distance. Put them all together, and when she starts chasing one, give her a good squirt. A couple of times might just slow her down a bit. Or you could add pin-less peepers to her. That often times stops the chase point blank, and after a few weeks can easily be removed and the fracas is over.

I think she will be the top hen, I wonder how old your rooster is? It sounds as if he is rather a bit young. I am wondering if you flock is a bit young and the hen is older? Are the original birds laying? If so time will really help this.

I am a pretty big proponent to using a lot of clutter, hideouts, blind spots, and roosts in the run, and not separating the birds. Every time you separate the birds, they start over. If birds can get away from each other, out of sight of each other, a lot of aggression is reduced. Once the lower bird moves away, and gets out of sight, the fight is over.

Often what happens is that it is an open space, and there is no way to get out of sight, so the attack continues. This might be true of your free range space too.

Mrs K
Interestingly enough my flock are all around three years and still laying, and the new hen is only around a year. My rooster is kinda a wimp when it comes to doing his
“job” as he was always second in line (or maybe even lower than some of my hens) to the big buff orphington guy that I used to have.
You were spot on with the free range space that I have-there isn’t really any place for them to get out of the way. I will definitely keep that in mind.
Thanks for the reply!
 

PonyRaindrop

Songster
5 Years
Feb 25, 2016
50
28
111
Michigan
Might not have been long enough.


Yes, @PonyRaindrop how old are all the birds involved?
Interestingly enough my flock are all around three years and still laying, and the new hen is only around a year. My rooster is kinda a wimp when it comes to doing his
“job” as he was always second in line (or maybe even lower than some of my hens) to the big buff orphington guy that I used to have.
I will be gone over the weekend so she will have another few days to see them but not touch. Hopefully this will be much better when I get back and I can try again!
Thanks :)
 

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