What to do with a mean hen during integration?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by chixcoop, Jan 17, 2016.

  1. chixcoop

    chixcoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi, I am currently trying to introduce my flock of 7 chicks, 12 weeks old to my 4 barred rock hens. 3 of the hens seem fine with the chicks, mainly because I have had the two groups separated by chicken wire for the past 2 months. Today I let the two groups out together. When I shut the Adults and children in the coop together 20 min later, one hen (mean one)was pecking and almost going after the little bantam rooster. He was squaking, and the mean hen would not stop. So I picked her up and separated her. Does anyone have any ideas of what I should do to make this hen less mean? If I wanted to knock her down a couple spots in the pecking order, could I move the mean one into the chicks area, then move the 7 chicks into the big coop to be with the 3 nice adults?

    If the mean hen is separated only by chicken wire from the rest of the flock, will she be knocked down in the pecking order?
     
  2. 10xmama

    10xmama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've had no luck merging chicks with hens until the chicks are essentially full grown and about ready to lay. 16-18 is the earliest I've had luck. Any earlier and I've had the chicks bullied relentlessly.
     
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  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Is the bully hen the top or bottom hen?
    Could be going after the cockerel just because he's a male.

    You could separate the bully hen in the chick area for a time out and just keep adding her back in to see what happens. But if there's no blood shed and no one's getting pinned down and beaten, it's best to let them work it out.
    It's natural for some pecking/chasing to happen, it's how they communicate......
    ......it looks barbaric to us, but it's normal for them.

    Integration goes best when there's plenty of space for the new birds to get away from the older ones dominating pecks.
    Places to hide 'out of line of sight' (but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from aggressors helps a lot.
    Multiple feed/water stations helps too.
     
  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Sometimes it's more a matter of temperament than pecking order rank that's behind aggression. Look at a children's playground for an example. It's "fun sport" to chase chicks and newcomers.

    As Aart pointed out, having plenty of ways to evade a bully is what's required. You aren't going to be able to change the temperament of this aggressive hen.

    I have seen that younger birds take advantage of higher perches to evade a pursuer. I have tree stumps, and old wooden chair, and even a chicken swing where the smalls can leap to safety. The aggressor almost never follows them up to these perches.

    Try not to interfere too much. It just causes stress for everyone, including you. The youngsters learn very quickly how to evade the bullies. They are usually way faster, too, so they have that going for them. [​IMG]
     
  5. chixcoop

    chixcoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think that the bully hen is the bottom, because the rest of the flock always leaves her and she is usually on her own when free ranging. Yesterday, when the bully hen was pecking the banty rooster, it was kind of a "whenever he walked near her pecking" and a little of her chasing him. It was normally her pecking his wing and neck, then he would squak like a kazoo. I think he was trapped in the adult run and didn't know how to get out, and that was the problem. The adult hen can tell he is a boy already at only 11-12 weeks old? (He is the less dominant rooster of my two bantams so he doesn't crow.)
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Bottom of the pack is often most aggressive when newbies come in, finally someone to lord it over..haha.

    They can tell....you can often tell a male by 5-6 weeks, or 3-4 months when hackle and saddle feather start showing.
    I didn't realize that they were more males in the younger group.
     

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