Nature on our Doorstep - New, The Down the Lane Wildlife Diary
Introducing new chickens to the flock
Methods used to reduce bullying in the Chicken Coop
I think that over the past 7 years or so I've introduced chickens to others on about two dozen occasions. Thus far I haven't experienced any real major problems other than the 'pecking order' ritual and fairly noisy punch ups.
Firstly I would say to introduce when you've a couple of days (or six weeks !!) off and can keep an eye on things.
Nine times out of ten, I've simply put them in to the Chicken House (not in the open) and waited for them to find their own way out.
When you do this, there may be some squabbling at dusk when all and sundry are returning to their home and on a few occasions I've had to catch the new ones and physically put them into the house.
Each of the hens will have their own particular spot and will get obviously irritated if a newcomer steals it.
By far the best method I have used is to wait til dark and put them into the house then. That way, they are not stealing anyone's favourite spot. You simply have a torch, go in, find an empty place and for want of better words, plonk them there.
The last time I did it this way, I went up the garden quite early in the morning to see if all was well and all the chickens old and new were walking around the Pen as if they'd known each other for years.
I didn't have one problem atall with them.
The Pecking Order problem
On the odd occasion though their may be a real problem, especially when introducing just one on it's own. Two will partner off together and during the daytime keep out of the others way and go about their business.
When you feed them, just sprinkle the food all over the place, not allowing for a mad rush to one particular spot.
Chickens will always chase the last handful going in. They seem to think that the last is the best for some unknown reason. But it would appear this is just greediness.
If it appears the old chickens are injuring the new one's the best idea is to separate them, but let them see each other and be close.
But, if doing this, I would still move them into the Hen House at dusk - it is extremely rare for them to fight during the dark.
Introducing ex-Battery Hens can be a problem sometimes. For one year they've been cooped up with nothing else to do than eat and peck each other.
Saying that, they can certainly look after themselves and won't stand much nonsense from others.
But be warned, chickens are very magnetised to blood. If you go into a Pen wearing shorts and you have the smallest of gashs on your shin, they'll find it.
During this time, the new and the old may go a bit off-lay.
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