When to allow new hens to free-range

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by diana_of_the_dunes, Jan 4, 2011.

  1. diana_of_the_dunes

    diana_of_the_dunes In the Brooder

    Feb 22, 2009
    St. Joseph County, IN
    I just incorporated 2 new EE hens with my little flock of 3 hens. They're all about the same age, from what I can tell. The 3 "original" chickens have been free-ranging since they were maybe 3 months old. I've never had a problem with them coming back to the coop. I was thinking to shut them all in together for 2 or 3 days before letting them out, but I'm nervous about my new EEs not coming home. They did go into the coop from the run when the other hens did, so is it just a monkey-see monkey-do kind of thing, and if the others come home the newbies will follow?

    Also, about how long does it take to establish a pecking order? One of the EEs is extremely submissive and hasn't had any problems. When one of the The other got in a bit of a scuffle with my Australorp and then the Wyandotte. The Wyandotte definitely came out on top, and now they're both sleeping on the same roost. Will they be okay now, or is roosting behavior not an indication of how well hens get along?
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I think your plan will work fine. It really did not sound like a terrible struggle, and once they get it sorted, it is pretty stable. I would leave them the 3 days, and then they will probably follow the other's lead. Chickens get in a habit pretty quickly.

    But you might just let them out the 1st couple of times a bit before sundown. What I would NOT do is let only the original hens out, either let the whole flock or none of the flock out.


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