Reintegrating Hens to the Flock

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by NataleeKW, May 15, 2018 at 3:13 PM.

  1. NataleeKW

    NataleeKW Well-Known Member

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    Hi all! I have an issue with putting one of my hens back in the flock after a quarantine. Right now I have two hens and a roo left in my current flock. I quarantined my rocker bar hen because I thought that she was being pecked but it turned out to be a huge molt. My coop is separated by a wall into an indoor bunny hutch. So I quarantined the hen on the bunny side of the hutch for about 4 weeks to let some of her feathers grow back. All the while letting her outside in a fenced area that butts up to my chicken run so they could all socialize. About two weeks ago, I put a saddle on her and let her go back in with my Americana rooster and hen. They did fine all day with no issues but as soon as I closed them in the coop for nighttime the Americana hen repeatedly attacked my Rocked Barr hen. So, I took out the Americana and put her in chicken jail for a week, hoping that would help. Nope. Same thing happened. Fine all day and then attacked as soon as the coop door closed. So now I have the Rocked Barr hen separated again. She has a few minor peck cuts on her face but nothing major. Any ideas on what else I can do to reintegrate her?

    I also tried integrating my Rocked Barr in with my new flock of chicks that are about 6 weeks old. It didn’t go horribly and I will continue to try to get her in with them but I am not sure what else to do. My thought was that if I could get her in with the new flock that they could all be reintegrated together which might help.

    Any help would be appreciated.
     
  2. aart

    aart HOW do they DO that?

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    How big is your coop and run, in feet by feet?
    Do you free range at all?
    Small numbers in small spaces can make for a tougher integration.
    Roost time is prime for status battles, RoostTimeRumble, even with a well established flock.
    Adding more birds might help 'spread the love'...if there is plenty of space.
    Mixing and matching who is with whom in which enclosure, multiple times a day, can help shake up the territoriality aspect.

    Here's some tips that might help......chicken fights are no fun.
    Integration Basics:
    It's all about territory and resources(space/food/water).
    Existing birds will almost always attack new ones to defend their resources.
    Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best if mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

    The more space, the better.
    Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no copious blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down and beaten unmercilessly, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide 'out of line of sight'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds. Roosts, pallets or boards leaned up against walls or up on concrete blocks, old chairs tables, branches, logs, stumps out in the run can really help. Lots of diversion and places to 'hide' instead of bare wide open run.
     

  3. GTX63

    GTX63 Well-Known Member

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    Our coop opens directly into an L shaped approximately 70' x 50' pen. Unless I emptied a tractor trailer of chickens out, there is little chance of hen fighting lasting any longer than it takes for one to run away. My wife has keep small shelters, brush and "get away" nooks for birds that don't want to be bothered. When we have reintroduced chickens back into general population due to health, broodiness, etc, we have done so with no issues. Space is key to me.
     
  4. NataleeKW

    NataleeKW Well-Known Member

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    Inside of the coop is 6’x9’ but they only get closed in at night to protect them from night time predators. They used to be free range during the day but the Neighbor dog killed one of them so we fenced them in. Right now their fenced in area is about 5x5’ but is going to be expanded to allow them into the goat pasture which is probably 60x40’
     
  5. NataleeKW

    NataleeKW Well-Known Member

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    Inside the coop there are 12 in wall nesting boxes and tree limb perched all over the place.
     
  6. barnbilder

    barnbilder Well-Known Member

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    All this information is missing the one most important rule of chicken integration. If you don't do anything else, do all your integrating at night. The boss is OK with the new faces as long as they don't invade personal space. Coming too close to the boss at roost time brings down a storm of wrath. Separating out the boss, because they are "a mean bully", (if you want to anthropomorphize an animal as primal as a chicken), it does no good, as number two simply takes their place, and number two might be an even meaner bully. If they wake up together, it lessens the animosity generated by personal space invasion at roost time. But you can just let them figure out there place, they will in time. They can heal up from most anything that comes from a harmless pecking order dispute, as long as there is not too much of a size/age differential.
     
  7. Alder

    Alder Well-Known Member

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    Wait til they go in on their own (dark) to close them up. The new hen will probably wait until last when the others are on the roost and it's safe before she goes in. If she doesn't go in, PUT her in, when the rest are conked out. Then, get out there before daylight and open the door so they can get outside right away when they get off the roost. Other than that - the less interference from humans the better. A couple days and they will work it out and be fine.

    Oh, and yes, lack of space is a big part of the problem, but you know, and are going to correct that.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018 at 10:52 AM
  8. NataleeKW

    NataleeKW Well-Known Member

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    Thanks all. I made a run to the goat area so they now have access to more space once they fully venture that way. I put my barred rock in with the roo and Americana hen. So far the Americana hen is showing her dominance but no injuries yet. I will let it play it and keep an eye on her. Thanks!
     
  9. aart

    aart HOW do they DO that?

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    So the boss can't see the new faces after dark.....
    but the new faces at the morning feeder won't tick off the boss(or any other existing bird)?
     
  10. barnbilder

    barnbilder Well-Known Member

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    Nope, they won't, because they will stay on the roost and watch things play out for a while, and figure out which chicken they need to not look in the eye or approach. Unless they are just dumb. But approaching the roost sets off a different dynamic, a strange bird approaching a roost is met with aggression from the matriarch. This reaction isn't triggered by birds flying off the roost.
     
    aart likes this.
  11. muleskinner2

    muleskinner2 Well-Known Member

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    When I was a kid we always had a large flock of chickens, for the eggs and meat. The aggressive ones made real good chicken and dumplings.

    Muleskinner1