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Will they ever get along?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by BeccaSmith, Nov 19, 2011.

  1. BeccaSmith

    BeccaSmith Songster

    Apr 9, 2011
    Meridian, ID
    So hubby and I picked up two new chickens last week that were listed on CraigsList as free to a good home....we wanted to add a couple more to our flock so figured what the heck. We probably won't be doing that again since we had second thoughts after doing such as what diseases and bugs we may be introducing to our current hens as we have no way of seperating the two new ones before allowing them to live together. We will have to figure out something down the road for being able to quarantine chickens..but now that we know we should have done that we don't have the heart to get rid of them if you know what I mean. We thought our sweet friendly girls would accept the two new ones as the run with the neighbors chickens and they come into our coop and there have been no behavior problems. But our girls are down right rude to the two chickens, we thought were both hens but I think one is a young rooster going into molt....and I only think it is a rooster because it is doing the side step thing. Anyways....our girls only sat on one out of two of the roosting perches we made for them....they wouldn't touch the second one that was on the other side of the coop, but now all of a sudden our existing hens have decided they are going to use both of them and won't let the two new ones sit on them and they were chasing them around trying to peck on them but I think the pecking has stopped for now. I know it has only been a week, but is there something that can be done to try and stop this behavior is will it just go away after time, and will it ever stop? I'm concerned about raising baby chicks and to add to the flock in the future years after seeing this behavior.... Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

  2. bloom chicks

    bloom chicks Songster

    Jun 6, 2011
    I am new to the whole chicken thing myself. I'm sure someone can help. [​IMG]
  3. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Definitely learn from your mistakes. It's sounds like you're aware of the risks you've put your birds in by just sticking new, unknown birds into your flock.
    But also for integration issues, most separate (by wire) newbies for a few weeks so the birds can get used to one another without attacking. Folks who free range have better luck because there's so much space for old birds/new birds to avoid one another.
    It will most likely take MANY weeks for your old birds to accept the two newbies...for some it takes a few months.
    Make sure there is more than one feeder/waterer available so that the newbies have a place to eat without being chased away. Stick another roost out there for them. Also things like tree stumps or other barriers help.
    Things you can do until then: Sit out there with a spray bottle and zap birds who are being overly aggressive. Almost all birds will peck/chase away from food sources. But some birds will go out of their way to bully others. Also, a peck is one thing. Aggressively attacking/yanking out feathers is another...or cornering a bird and not letting up. So be sure you're monitoring that no blood is drawn.
    When/if you get chicks down the road, they'll need to be at least close in size to your existing flock before you can safely integrate them...unless you have a huge run or free range quite a bit. So plan accordingly.
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

  5. BeccaSmith

    BeccaSmith Songster

    Apr 9, 2011
    Meridian, ID
    Thank you for the replies. I should have mentioned that our girls do free range during the day, the only time they are in the coop are from dusk till dawn.
  6. Jeffross1968

    Jeffross1968 Songster

    May 14, 2011
    Smoky Mountains
    Yeah, integration, quickly, will be rough as a rule, with few exceptions. I've done it a few times now. What I've learned, is that the longer you can prolong their exposure without contact, the better it will go...but even then, they will still need to work out the pecking order once full introductions are made. We're lucky. We have an older, smaller coop that was nearly destroyed back in June from a tornado knocking down a tree on top of it (there are pictures somewhere on these boards). It gave us an opportunity to build a new, bigger coop and run. We were going to tear down the little one, but decided to keep it in case we wanted to hatch out chicks in the future (which we have numerous times now, LOL).

    Whether speaking of new purchased birds, or young hatchlings we brooded inside, the plan is always the same. The first week, they are kept in the small coop, without a break, while the existing flock is outside every day to free range. This allows 8ish hours per day of face time. The existing flock spends a lot of time sniffing them out, pecking a little through the wire if the young ones dare to stick their beak out or get to close. After a week, we let them out to free range with the rest. There is TONS of chasing and pecking, especially if we throw out some scratch or treats. But with a whole yard and half a mountain to run from the big ones, no real damage is done. We let this partial integration continue for as long as possible, but the young ones tend to, after a couple weeks, start investigating the big coop and run. Again, there will initially be some chasing, because the existing flock gets a little territorial. But eventually, it slows down. At that point, I wait until I can catch them in the big run close to dark, when all the others have retreated into the coop, and lock em in there.

    I've had no instances of blood being drawn, even if the pecking order stuff can seem a little brutal.

    Anyway, the only thing I can suggest, is to make sure they are allowed out of the coop as early as possible, when they wake up, so they aren't...well..."cooped up" together with no where to run. If they free range, make sure you maximize their time out doing that every day...giving the new ones lots of room to get away. Keep an eye on them, but let them work it out. If blood is drawn, then you have a problem. Everything short of that is likely normal and temporary.

    EDIT: You posted about free ranging while I was writing my post. I think you'll be fine.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2011

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