Yet another introducing new birds question...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by feltman, Dec 14, 2010.

  1. feltman

    feltman New Egg

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    Apr 30, 2010
    The details:
    -I have 3 Red-Star hens, about 1 year old.
    -I am introducing 2 Araucana and 1 Silkie pullets, about 4 months old.

    -The coop is 4 x 6, plenty of roosting area, 5 nesting boxes--2 of which I have partially blocked to allow the new gals a place to hide out.
    -The run is decent sized, a place for them to hide.
    -There is food and water in both the run and in the coop.\\

    -We are in New York

    The History:
    Initially, at the recommendation of the breeder, I put them in the coop at night and monitored carefully the next morning. CARNAGE. The older birds went after the new gals pretty quickly and viciously. I let it go on for the day, but they just wouldn't let up and my kids were hysterical.

    After reading every single post on this forum regarding the subject, I separated your birds into another smaller coop alongside the main for a week or so, so that they could all see and get used to each other.

    Reintroducing them again last night the older gals have them penned into a corner this morning and still periodically attack. No bloodshed so far but the harassment is pretty constant.

    It's really, really cold here. The secondary coop is quite lightweight, drafty, and pretty small. It's also a pain managing two separate coops. I'm also getting the feeling that if I keep going back and forth I'm just going to make things worse.

    I'm inclined to just let them sort it out and hope for the best.

    Any suggestions?
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    FWIW, and I don't know if this is an option for you but....I live in a suburban area that allows small flocks of hens only. I have an A-Frame coop but no run. In the morning I open the coop and they have the run of the backyard for the day, put themselves to bed at night and when they're settled in, I go out and close the coop door.

    Each Spring I get a new batch of chicks, so I do introductions on a regular basis. I have 2YO's, 1YO's and add to them a new batch of 3-4 chicks. So there is always an established flock of adults and into that I am adding chicks that are just barely out of the brooder - 4-6 weeks old. I have NEVER had any issues with the little girls being picked on. Over time, and reading posts where other people have not had the same experience, I have come to believe that space is the issue. When you are trying to integrate two flocks in a confined space such as a coop/run, the original girls guard their space fiercely against the newcomers. However given enough space they don't feel threatened and it becomes a non-issue. Because my backyard consists of one side the house, the back and the other side of the house, there are multiple places each flock (old girls and new chicks) can spend time without bothering the other. In the beginning, they will be two distinct flocks - usually quite far apart from one another. By the end of summer they have integrated into a single flock. Interestingly, I've noticed that when two or three wander away from the rest, it is almost always two or three who were started together, so they seem to have some kind of memory or bond that remains even when they are fully integrated.
     
  3. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    Apr 15, 2009
    There is going to always be a certain amount of grief given to newly introduced birds. That's just the way the flock reacts to/adjusts to its new dynamic. They will work it out for themselves, and the more you stay uninvolved the quicker that will happen. Keep an eye on things to make sure nobody is getting beaten to the point of bleeding, but otherwise try to stay out of it. The old birds should be used to the new birds at this point, so it's time to integrate and be done with it. It's tough to watch the pecking order in action, so be prepared for a certain amount of squabbling.

    My only recommendation is that if things continue to go very poorly with the new birds being beaten to a pulp, I would separate out the worst bully of the old flock and remove her from the coop for a couple days to let the newbies adjust to the rest of the girls. Sometimes by removing the biggest bully you can give the new girls a break from the harassment long enough to allow them to integrate. When the bully is returned to the coop she will be so busy trying to watch her own back that she will hopefully not bother the new girls as much. She will also be down a peg or two on the pecking order, as a result of being removed from the flock.

    I hope this helps and they will form one big, happy flock soon. Integrations can be easy as pie, or next to impossible. I've dealt with both scenarios in the past, so I feel your pain. Good luck.
     

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