When do I need to intervene when adding new chickens to my flock??

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by kensor601, Sep 22, 2014.

  1. kensor601

    kensor601 In the Brooder

    May 12, 2014
    So I've added new chickens to my flock twice before; however, this is the first time that the newbies are outnumbered. First time I added a chicken, it was one on one. Second time, it was two on two. Now I have four and am adding two. My existing flock has an EE hen as old as 9 months and some pullets that are 5 months. The new pullets (about 4 months old) I'm adding have been in their own little "coop"/doghouse with attached run for the past month. For the past couple of weeks I have let the little ones out to range with the bigger ones. The bigger ones mostly leave them alone, except for the occasional chasing. But the little ones have enough room to get away unscathed. As of last night, I put the new ones on the roost with the other chickens and they went in well with just minor grumblings from the peanut gallery. Today they have spent most their day hiding in the nesting boxes. The couple of times they go out into the run they end up getting chased, and pecked. There's not been any blood, but I have seen some feathers get pulled out.

    So my thing is, I hate watching these feathers getting pulled and the babies hollering. Sometimes my head hen will chase one and peck several times, usually getting contact with some (occasional) feathers. At one point I felt like she wasn't letting off enough, especially with the other 3 chasing so I took her out and separated her for now. Should I have just left her in and plucking feathers is okay (for the time being)? How do I tell when the pecking and chasing is excessive? Only when there's blood? And was I too rash and protective of the little ones for taking out the head hen? I'm still learning so I would appreciate any and all input!! It's so hard to sit by and watch it sometimes!
  2. LRH97

    LRH97 Songster

    Jul 29, 2013
    Southern Illinois
    It sounds like pretty typical behavior for the old meeting the new. My rule of thumb is, when there's blood, it's too much. Things should settle down with time. I'd say you can probably add your head hen back in too. I know it's hard to watch them get bullied, but it's only temporary. It's also a good thing that most of your birds have been through new introductions before, so you kind of have an idea how aggressive they are, and how well they do with newbies. If you didn't have any problems then, you probably won't have many/any now with them. The newest birds (the ones you introduced before the ones you are now) are the ones you'll want to keep a little more of a closer eye on. Best of luck to you!
  3. kensor601

    kensor601 In the Brooder

    May 12, 2014
    Thank you so much! I'll go ahead and add her back in.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    It's hard to watch,those [email protected] birds can seem mean!!!

    Just a few tips that might help:

    The more space, the better. Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places to hide out of line of sight and/or up and away from bully birds.

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