When will they assimilate?

NewYorkMama

Chirping
Apr 17, 2017
54
48
81
Hi,
We recently added to our tiny flock of 3 with 2 rescues (see my previous post for details).

I have a few questions:

1) how long does it typically take new members to actually assimilate with old members? Right now, the group of 3 stays together, and the group of 2 stays together. They DO sleep together (yay!), but they don't eat together -- and I'm a little concerned about this because it seems one of the newbies is quite bossy. I will bring them treats in two bowls, and no matter how far apart the bowls are from each other, the "boss" will sidle over to my girls treats and then all my girls move away. She doesn't actually peck at them or eat their food, it's like she's just keeping them from their food - even though she has her own!! What's even more frustrating, is this bossy one frequently won't even eat EITHER treat bowl; it's like she's just trying to keep everyone away then she leaves, but my girls are afraid, so then they stay away too. :(

2) should I stay with the older girls while they eat, as a deterrent for this behavior, or let them just work it out? I think my girls are super wimps though, and I'm afraid they'll just forego eating in order to avoid conflict which concerns me.

3) we are going to be away for a few days a week from now -- I will have someone checking on the girls. Is there anything I can do to ensure that my girls get enough food & water while we're gone? Or should I expect they'll assimilate by that time?
 

andreanar

Crowing
5 Years
May 16, 2014
2,832
4,887
437
Finger Lakes, NY
Well, there are a few things you can try. One is setting out more feed and water stations, like 4 or 5, the boss cant patrol them all! Give plenty of places to hide, like bales of hay, tree branches, any other barrier type stuff that some can go behind and be out of view of the others. Sometimes, you get a flock within a flock. With one set of birds sticking together and another set sticking together. That's ok, as long as there is no fighting that draws blood. They are sleeping together, and that is a good sign.
 

IamRainey

Crowing
Aug 22, 2017
2,849
11,738
486
Los Angeles (Woodland Hills); gardening zone 9B
I've got the same situation. ...and I've already ordered more chicks for the Spring so I'll soon have 3 flocks in the same space.

When I take out supplements like shredded cabbage or BOSS, I lay it out in a line from one end of the run to the other. It may be sparse in spots but I still cover as much geography as I can. That way it's harder for my Chief Mean Girl to run the others off a dish or a specific location. They've gotten better at tolerating one another but she can still send the new girls running with an evil eye when she wants to!

And I agree with andreanar that multiple feeding and water stations is a very good idea no matter how many chickens or how many distinct flocks. I have 3 feeders and 4 watering stations for my 7 chickens.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
Jul 3, 2016
15,808
30,315
1,052
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
If it's just a bit of food guarding that's normal and I wouldn't worry about it as long as the other birds get to eat at some point.

What helps (in addition to even more feed stations) is having barriers in between the feed stations to make it harder for the bully bird to guard them. I have one hen that likes to dominate the fermented feed in the morning but she has to walk past a mesh wall and a wood brooder to get from one dish to the next, which helps to slow her down since if she's at one station, she can't see the other one easily.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 12, 2009
8,951
11,342
636
western South Dakota
What you need is little mini walls, where a bird eating at one station cannot see a bird eating at another station. If you are sitting on the floor of your run, could you see every bird in the run? If so, you do not have enough clutter to break up the line of sight. Little hide outs, a straw bale, a pallet leaned up, a piece of plywood will all really help, and be good while you are gone.
 

llombardo

Crowing
Mar 11, 2018
3,015
4,803
346
Illinois
It took 5 months for us to get to this point...there are still small arguments amongst the girls. The boy is not the problem and never was

image.jpg
 

chickengeorgeto

Crowing
7 Years
Dec 25, 2012
8,047
4,200
431
Big Bend of the Tennessee River's Right Bank.
Separate food bowls may actually prolong the period of adjustment. Try only one food bowl and keep your eye on the ladies and take appropriate action, Like removing the old timer hens for a few days. I am seriously questing your portrayal of theses new comer hens as rescue chickens because they seem quite healthy and at home in their new flock. Cut out all the treats because these goodies tend to make hens jealous of one another.
 

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