When will my flock 'become one?'

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by krista74, Nov 18, 2014.

  1. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi all,

    My original flock consisted of 5 hens (3 RIR and 2 BO) and one roo (BO).

    Eight days ago I brought in 3 new RIR hens which we brought from an egg farm/hatchery. We put them onto the roost at night beside the existing flock and hoped for the best. There were a few squabbles over the coming days as you would expect, but no blood was drawn and they all settled down surprisingly quickly, so we were happy.

    I have noticed some initial teething problems though:-

    1. The old flock all roost on the highest roost bar, and new girls roost below them.
    2. The rooster makes sure all of his old girls go into the coop at night, but the new girls must get themselves to bed
    3. The rooster, after showing some initial interest, does not mate the new girls (yet, lol!)
    4. Whilst pecking and squabbles are minimal now, the old flock and the new flock do not socialise much, and we often find them at opposite ends of the run.
    5. One of the old girls has started hanging out with the new girls and will now divide her time between the two flocks
    6. The old girls were blocking access to the main feeder and waterer, so the new girls had to have separate ones installed at 'their end' of the run!
    7. The old girls get all the treats and always eat first
    8. The new girls do not yet come when called, whereas the old girls do.
    9. Only one of the three new girls is laying so far
    10. The new girls do not show any inclination to want to go out free ranging with the old girls, and seem happy when I relock the run door behind the old girls. At that point they explore ALL OVER the run!

    I am after some insight as to wether this is normal behaviour and what I can expect as far as further integration goes. Are they ever likely to merge into one large flock or are they destined to be forever separated?

    They are all the same age (1 year old) except for one new girl who is 2 years old. She is lowest on the pecking order and seems very subdued in comparison to the others. Is this an 'age' thing? She doesn't ever seem to be in a hurry, lol, and just quietly meanders about rather than running around as the others sometimes do. She is my favourite!

    - Krista
     
  2. LanceTN

    LanceTN Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Flocks dividing into sub flocks is completely normal, it can even happen with birds all raised together.

    Everything else you mention seems pretty normal.

    As long as violence and bullying isn't excessive I wouldn't worry
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Perfectly normal....sounds like it was a pretty easy integration, you can count your lucky stars!
    The multiple feed/water stations is good.

    8 days is nothing and they may never co-mingle. Sub-flocks, pecking orders, roosting places, best buddies can be ever changing.....I find it fascinating to observe.
     
  4. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Victoria, Australia.
    It IS interesting, isn't it.

    I had heard so many horror stories about integrating new birds, but things being as they are out here (on a dairy farm) I didn't have the time to run them in 2 separate pens, especially since I already have two other pens full of chicks and a Momma Hen. Obviously, if I had bought them from anyone else (aka: Not a hatchery where I consider the stock to be 'clean') I would have had no choice but to integrate in stages.

    Things went surprisingly well for us - we were lucky. They did have a few squabbles, don't get me wrong. But for the most part it was a quick chase followed by a sharp peck, and then they separated themselves again. This happened several times over the first couple of days, but even on the second night they all went to bed in the coop fine.

    I wonder if it helped that the 3 new girls were the same breed as most of the original flock? They are also the same size, and before I put them in he coop I put identical saddles on them too so that they would all look alike! (This was partly a strategic move, and partly to give them some much needed protection from the other girl's pecking and the rooster's amorous advances!)

    Speaking of the rooster....is he likely to start mating them eventually?

    And is it normal that two of the new girls are not laying yet?

    Thanks everyone for your comments so far.

    - Krista
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Yes, normal not to be laying yet, lots of stress for those new girls, give them time....and the rooster too.
     
  6. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Victoria, Australia.
    Thanks, aart.

    I am pleased to hear my roo will come around in due course. Actually, he is the reason I got the 3 new girls to start with. My other girls ALL have bald backs and wings from being mounted too often. Well, not that he does it too often, but there were not enough girls for him to spread his affections around, lol. Now that he has 8 to choose from I'm hoping it lessens the burden on his favourite girl.

    I wonder how long it will take the other 2 to start laying? Funnily enough, when we first got them I said to hubby that they didn't look like they were laying - their combs are nowhere near as red as my old girls. But one has laid an egg every day since we got her, so what do I know, lol.

    - Krista
     
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I find really cold weather, makes for a tighter flock. Hens are not near so picky who is sitting next to them, if they add a little warmth!

    However, some have friends, and friends hang together. They are fun to watch, such a great hobby!
     
  8. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They sure are! I have 2 pens of chicks at the moment (some 8 weeks old, and some 3 weeks old who are still with their Momma.) Quite often I go into the coop to check on everyone, sit on the bottom roost bar and watch their antics. Sometimes an hour can pass by, and I have to pull myself up and say "I think I have spent enough time watching you for today!" They really are fascinating. I must say, the sight of a Momma Hen, clucking quietly and using her beak to point her chicks underneath her for warmth is a beautiful thing.

    Of the other girls, the great divide between old and new is still strong. They don't peck at each other much though. I have 2 BO hens (one of whom is the Momma so is not currently out with the main flock) and the other BO is always by George's side (George being the rooster) - she never strays. Interestingly she is one of the least mated girls, but she sleeps next to him every night on the roost, and he becomes distraught if he wanders off and she doesn't follow.

    It's hot here right now so everyone wants their space. Last night, in fact, I went out to lock everyone into the coop, and for the first time ever they had inches of space in between each bird! During Winter they all huddled up close but now everyone seems to want their own spot.

    - Krista
     

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