new chickens

runningtrailsSeptember 20, 2008

We bought 12 ready-to-lay hens and one 4 mo old rooster about two months ago. They were all settled in and laying every day. Last Wed we bought 8 more ready-to-lay hens, same kind, and added them to the coop - lots of room. The old hens are chasing the new ones away from the food and treats and treating them pretty badly. They have all been out of sorts for the past few days, chasing each other around too. The rooster has been showing his authority by running at them and just standing there. They don't run away from the rooster, just crouch down.

It's heartbreaking to watch the poor new things. Will they find their place in the flock and fit in eventually, after they start laying. I know the hens that are laying are further up in the hyarchy. Some are laying small eggs.

I feel so sorry for them and a little worried that they are not getting enough to eat. I do see them sneaking from the feeder when the others are not around, but they don't get very long to do so.

Will they be ok in there? Is there anything I can do?

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You may want to try feeding the newcomers first in the morning, if you can get them sorted out...or when you feed them, spread the feed out so that the more timid ones have a place they can get fed and not get chased away by the bully birds. Eventually they should get along with the other ones..but there will always be a pecking order, unfortunately. Most of the time it's about the toughest most aggressive birds are the rulers of the roost.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 6:04PM
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hi, When ever I've add newbies to the existing group I always add at least 50% more birds. That way they don't all pick on one or two birds (which can be deadly for the newbies). Use 4 or 5 feeding/drinking stations spread them out so old group can't possible keep the newbies from it. Put a lot of things (like old chairs- pails-and the like) so there is something close to hide behind or run around. Give plenty of busy food-whole apples, squash, melons you get the ideal. This distracts the whole group. In a few days they will have adjusted and you can start taking the extra feed/water stations away-1 every 2 or 3 days. The extra hiding things also can be slowly removed. If you have fewer newbies to add, put a wire cage in the center and put the feed/water inside and out side of the cage so all have to eat within view and close to each other in a week or so leave the inner cage's door open late at night when all are roosting and in the AM they will slowly mix and mingle without too much bickering. This is just one way of doing it. Hope this helps-Keep on Chick'en.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 6:20PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

^^^^ Good advice from serama....

Yeah, the new birds are going to take a thrashing at first, best you can do is distract the existing flock and try to soothe bruised chickeny feelings. Your old flock is feeling jealous and their status is threatened by the new birds. You can help them adjust and protect the newcomers by acting the part of 'mother hen' and protecting your 'babies' (the new birds), more info here:

Chickens do have emotions, and time is what is going to fix things ultimately. The newcomers will have to learn their new place in the flock (usually at the bottom of the pecking order unless an individual goes broody, whereupon she raises her status herself via lots of butt kickin' and growling). Good luck! :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 4:18PM
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They are much better now. The newbies seem to fit right into the flock and are laying small eggs now. They only fought for a few days and have settled down, thank goodness!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 5:50AM
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Hi runningtrails,
I knew they would be all right, when i was new at this bird stuff (if i remember right i had this crazy neighbor that was building a big boat and ranting about a big flood. Funny how one remembers these long ago things and can find the keys you just lay down somewhere) i remember pulling out a few hairs now and again. Just give the village a hoot and we'll come running (in my case a hobble-arthritis). If you would like to see some of my Feathered Friends visit my website. Glad everything's well. Keep on Chick'en!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 10:49AM
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