Friday, December 2, 2011

Introducing New Chickens to Your Flock

Thank you to my reader that asked me a question about this tonight, you are the inspiration behind this post! :)

There comes a time when almost EVERY chicken owner will add a couple new birds to their flock, this can be a trying time for both you and your birds so be prepared!!!

~ KEEP OUT!!!

When you get new birds keep them AWAY from your current hens for 30 days.. this gives them time to adjust to there surroundings, and you can watch them to make sure they are free of sickness, even the most healthy looking bird could come to your flock, get sick from a germ they weren't immune to, develop it, and spread it to your whole flock.. bad news!!

After the initial 30 day quarantine.. its time to introduce your new birds.. Let me first say this is not a joyous time.. your flock has already established a pecking order and now you are messing it up so be ready..

~ Let me explain pecking order..

At about 6 weeks of age your chickens will start deciding who is boss, and on down the line.. they do this by.. yes PECKING each other, also throwing some chicken punches, kicks, chest bumps, smack talk, cursing, and otherwise very impolite mannerisms .. normally the head cock is at the lead followed by other males then hens, pullets, etc.. I have only hens so they dueled it out and every once in a while I see them enforcing this not so nice chicken rule..
They block food and water, peck, squawk, chase around, flap their wings at and otherwise torment the other bird until it backs down back into it "place"..

But once established, a pecking order actually reduces conflict within a flock. Since everyone knows exactly where they belong disputes are settled more quickly by the lesser yielding to the higher ups!

Note:
When adding new chickens watch closely keep a eye out for wounds or other signs that this hazing ceremony has gone wrong..

~ Now to add the new birds..

Bring in the new birds and give them the tour while in your arms, call your current flock over (maybe with a treat) and hold the new bird(s) firmly in your arms, you are the leader so dont act crazy just be calm and on alert, then show your new bird where the water/ food is, nest box, etc, then put her down and pull up a chair, DO NOT interfere no matter how much you want to unless open bleeding wounds appear (yes this is chicken war).. but then again DO NOT let it go on for more then 5 minutes if it does step in break it up and return to your seat.. you may have to do this multiple times

If you notice a single bird being super aggressive and not letting up it may be necessary for you to remove him/her and keep him/her away for a couple days that way when he/she is re introduced he/she gets knocked off his/her high horse a little bit and is usually a little nicer..

You should only have to be out there for around a half hour to a hour, then go inside but keep a watchful eye out the window and a ear out for fighting, and step outside every half hour or so to monitor the situation..

Congrats you have introduced a new bird to your flock!!!

Notes:
~ I have readers swear by adding new birds at night while the others are roosting that way they all wake up together.. they are more confused then angry.. like who are these folks, when did they get here, why dont I know them and etc

~ Also others say that placing a large metal cage (think doggy cage) in the corner of the chicken area with the new hens in there for a couple weeks, while letting the others get used to them without having access to peck, etc

Please just remember every flock is different every chicken is different and for some it might be easy while others it takes much longer, I have heard of some chickens not accepting others until a year later!
Lets hope you have better luck :)


Hope I helped!!!

3 comments:

  1. I am one of those who puts them in at night. I also make sure there is place in the pen that they can hide to get rests. It also helps if you put more than one new bird in.

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  2. How does the night thing go? Do they seem less bothered?

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  3. When I brought in new hens one of the old girls was a terrible bully. I took her out for a week and when she was reintroduced now she was the new girl and lowest on the pecking order subservient even to the new girls.

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