Introducing a new chicken to the flock?

sullicorbitt(z5 MA)August 17, 2005

I am seriously considering adopting a Sliver Laced Wyandotte to my existing flock of 16 pullets. I saw her at the MSPCA shelter and am going there today to take another look. and also to see if I can get more information on her back ground.

My concern is how risky it is bringing in an adult bird to my existing flock healthwise that is. I've raised my birds from 2 day old chicks and they are really thriving, very healthy etc. I've heard horror stories of people introducing outside birds to their flocks and having disastrous results, and also heard of many people having now problems whatsoever. How risky is it? All the birds at the shelter are checked for avian flu and I think Pullorum before admitted.

I REALLY want more chickens, especially SLW's! they are so pretty.


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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

If you click on my 'My Page' link I have tons of chicken info there that may help, including the method I use to integrate new flock members....I call them 'Meet & Greets'. :) How old are your existing birds and what breed(s) are they?

I've had two SLW hens, although one at a time. They are beautiful birds! I've heard that in numbers they can be aggressive, but I have not found them so on their own, for what it's worth.

Good luck! :)


    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 4:38PM
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sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

Hi Velvet, well I did adopt her and I wish I had handled the meet and greet differently (I didn't read your post in time). It didn't go well and the poor thing had a really stressful day. The existing birds didn't like her and on top of that one of my kids accidentally let the dogs out and she got chased and couldn't take cover with the rest of the flock, it was horrible. And all my fault!

Tonight I have her separated in our old brooder box inside the coop with the other chickens and will put her out in the chicken tractor during the day tomorrow (a few yards away from the other birds).

My pullets are about 3.5 months old and our new SLW is about 4.5 months old but is smaller than my birds. We have 4 each of Barred Rocks, Americanas, Buff Orpingtons and Rhode Island Reds. I am thoroughly disgusted with the way my birds reacted to her. The only breed that didn't peck at her were my Buff Orp's. I did do the head hen thing and tried to swat at the aggressors but didn't feel I was being too affective but maybe I'm asking for too much too soon.

Tomorrow is a new day! Hope it goes better for me and Dorothy!

I may try putting a buff in with Dorothy tomorrow in the tractor to see if they would get along, my heart goes out to this little girl she is a real sweet heart.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 9:03PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Try, try again! :) Your new girl will most likely end up at the bottom of the pecking order, but that is what usually happens with new birds. Take heart, SLW are a fairly dominant breed and she should be fine in the end.

I'd rate your breeds as follows, most aggressive first: Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks, Americaunas and Buff Orps. Rhodies especially, in groups, can turn into a gang of bullies, so keep an eye on them.

If I were you I'd hesitate to put a hen in with Dorothy in the tractor....she needs to be able to get away and cannot in a tractor, even if the other hen is not aggressive it can be stressful to Dorothy if she feels trapped--after all, she doesn't know this other bird and has no idea if she about to get a beating or not. Better to do the Meet & Greets in the open and supervise, and allow all of them to get used to each other.

If you take a look at this page, it really helps:

It has great insight on chicken psychology, explains the pecking order and shows how to help introduce new birds to an existing flock as well. This technique works, I've used it!

Good luck, Dorothy will be fine. Congrats on the new addition! :)


    Bookmark   August 18, 2005 at 11:54PM
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I have a question about introducing birds, and have found that Velvet Sparrow's site has been a great help. But, my issue is about introducing two Aracana hens who are leaders. I have had four hens for awhile, and one - Mootsie - is the leader. She is very dominant, and controls the other three. Last week I adopted two Aracana hens who were abandoned. I am keeping them in a seperate run, but like to allow them to roam freely during the day. One of the adoptees is also a leader, she has the same temperment as Mootsie, and fights immediatly break out when I do meet and greet. Any ideas on how to get two dominant hens to live in peace?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 1:03AM
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sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

Thanks for the link Velvet! yesterday went MUCH better. I think keeping Dorothy separated in the brooder at night while still with the other hens helped get the others used to her, I did keep her in the tractor during the day. I only briefly put my buff in the tractor maybe a half hour with scratch down they hardly noticed each other.

At around supper time I often let the girls out to free range and did so letting Dorothy as well. This seemed the best environment for her to be with the others because she had plenty of places to run away from the aggressors while also keeping everyone busy foraging. I kept a close eye on them all and was happy to see she followed them into the coop after dark and got up to roost with the others. I did put her back in the brooder though, I know she'll have to eventually stand on her own but I feel more comfortable doing this slowly. In any case I feel much better and hopeful that with a little time things will work out.

Velvet, your assesment of the breeds is spot on, I never would have thought the Barred Rocks would be aggresive at all since they are so friendly to me and the kids but in the chicken world they are not. My reds for sure are the bullies of the bunch however I did see a tattered little red at the shelter that just wanted to sit on my lap! she was so sweet, I wanted her too!......self control!


Jimdaz, wish I could help, maybe reading my experience might help a little? (keeping them in seperate pen/cages but still together and supervised free ranging?) I think they have to work it out themselves but now I KNOW this is much easier said then done.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 8:08AM
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