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Introducing New Stock To Existing Flock - Printable Version

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Introducing New Stock To Existing Flock - Eglwyseg - 04-05-2019

Until this morning I had a flock of 7 brown hybrids who have behaved fairly well as a flock though they do have their bickering moments but usually swiftly sorted when deciding the pecking order.  They have been fantastic layers through the winter [no artificial light ever].  This morning I brought home two new members to join the existing flock and have to say I'm shocked at the behaviour of the existing 7 birds.  The new birds are again hybrids and bought them as P.O.L. but discovered one of them has layed today.

The problem has been, the reaction from the flock to the new birds.  It's like warfare in the pen with all 7 in turn picking and pecking the hell out of the newcomers but the old seven birds have also been extremely noisy.  

I sought advice when buying the new birds and was assured they will all settle down soon but at the moment I'm now not so sure.

Does anyone here know if the flock will settle or have I made a fundamental mistake in bringing in thee 2 new birds?

If the same behaviour is still here tomorrow then I'm half resigned to taking the 2 new birds back.

When I made the run and coop I planned for up to ten birds the run being a converted polytunnel 6 x 3 metres in size.  The coop is large and has 3 nest boxes to the sides.  I clean out the run and coop everyday day so hygiene is excellent and food and fresh water constantly added.  Also a small hopper of grit on hand.

Anyone help?   Will they settle?

Thanks.


RE: Introducing New Stock To Existing Flock - scotsfran - 04-05-2019

Sorry that you are having a bit of a traumatic time!! I'm no expert - but I do know it can take a while to sort out the pecking order. Is there any way that you can divide them so that they can see each other but not in contact with each other for a few days? I don't even know if that will help or just prolong the agony - someone else here might give better advice. I've always had at least three newbies when introducing them to a longer standing flock too.


RE: Introducing New Stock To Existing Flock - Eglwyseg - 05-05-2019

(04-05-2019, 09:22 PM)scotsfran Wrote: Sorry that you are having a bit of a traumatic time!! I'm no expert - but I do know it can take a while to sort out the pecking order. Is there any way that you can divide them so that they can see each other but not in contact with each other for a few days? I don't even know if that will help or just prolong the agony - someone else here might give better advice. I've always had at least three newbies when introducing them to a longer standing flock too.


Thanks for getting back.  I haven't even a roll of wire at the moment to separate them.  Got up this morning to hear the 7 oldies squawking the place down and the 2 new ones cowering on the coop roof.  There's a heck of a noise going on.  

My father always had chickens and I don't remember an event as this as he used to bring odd chickens into the flock now and then.   

My immediate neighbours have kindly said they aren't really a bother to them but as quiet people themselves I'm sure if this racket goes on it will wear them down eventually, it has me already.

If there is no letup shortly I will take them back to the place I bought them and simply ask will take them back, I won't even ask for a refund, this one I will have to put down to experience.

Phew, talk about pecking order?

Thanks again.


RE: Introducing New Stock To Existing Flock - zenith - 05-05-2019

I have always introduced new stock, separated but within view for a week or two before adding the newbies at night when they have gone to roost. You will always get a bit of bullying of the newbies before things settle down. I hope you find things settle asap and that you don't have to take the newbies back .


RE: Introducing New Stock To Existing Flock - Eglwyseg - 06-05-2019

(05-05-2019, 12:30 PM)zenith Wrote: I have always introduced new stock, separated but within view for a week or two before adding the newbies at night when they have gone to roost. You will always get a bit of bullying of the newbies before things settle down. I hope you find things settle asap and that you don't have to take the newbies back .

After some more consideration I have put the two pullets back in with the hens.  I have two water feeders so have one at each end of the pen.   Only one food feeder so have put a bucket on its side and filled that with feed.  It's interesting in that if a hen approaches a pullet, the pullet will disappear into the bucket with backside pointing out of the bucket thus thwarting a head on attack from a hen.  

When all else fails the two pullets jump up on the coop roof when for some reason the hens don't follow.   The coop is starting to look like poo lodge but I will sort that out if and when they settle.  One of the pullets has laid every day since arriving and somehow manages to sneak into the nest boxes without provocation from the hens so that is good so far.

So far the noise from the hens has slowed down so hoping they get quieter by the day.  My immediate neighbours have once again assured me they are not disturbed by their noise so far.  I think the hang-up on noise is probably more my issue.

Perhaps as you suggest keep them separated for a while could be a better way to get them integrated.  Perhaps a small run in the run with a roost might do the trick.  I'll know next time.  

Thank you.


RE: Introducing New Stock To Existing Flock - Sutty - 06-05-2019

If you've got this far and its settled a bit already, and the new birds have no injuries I'd stick with it, it'll probably take a few more days though. I have introduced 2 or three new birds to an established flock before, and they do scrap a bit for a few days - I'm lucky that they are in a bigger area so more room to get away from bullies. It helps to have several food and water points as you have already found, and possibly some extra places to hide (eg a panel leant against the fence, so that the new girls are not always in sight of the worst culprits. Interestingly I have often noticed that its the least dominant birds in an existing flock which give newcomers the most trouble!
I always add the new ones into the coop at night so they wake up together - don't know if it really helps though!


RE: Introducing New Stock To Existing Flock - Eglwyseg - 07-05-2019

I put all the birds together in the coop last night as you suggested and no squabbling. I don't usually lower the hatch but did for this night and opened up at six this morning. The two pullets wouldn't come out. Visited the pen at about half eight and though the pullets were now out they were sitting on the coop roof which indicates to me they had been chased.

Anyway, committed now so will keep at it. The main flock have gone a lot quieter but still chase the pullets.

And yes, I would confirm, it is the sub-dominant hens in the flock doing all the bulling with the pullets. Pecking order heh?

I'll let you all know if there is any serious drama in the coming day or two.

Thanks


RE: Introducing New Stock To Existing Flock - scotsfran - 07-05-2019

Sounds like things are improving - if not perfect yet. It does take time. Good luck and keep us posted!!


RE: Introducing New Stock To Existing Flock - Eglwyseg - 10-05-2019

(07-05-2019, 01:18 PM)scotsfran Wrote: Sounds like things are improving - if not perfect yet. It does take time. Good luck and keep us posted!!



Hello Fran and all the other respondents. 

I have discovered by accident the safest way to introduce pullets to existing stock is to have perches around the pen.

This was on pure gut feeling but I put up a rather low perch across one end of the run with a spare piece of 2" X 2" to discover the new pullets would escape to it when challenged by the other birds, challenged in this case meaning a downright aggressive attack on them!

The perch is a mere 20" from the ground but for some reason when the pullets perch themselves up there, the flock never follow to persecute them.

I discover, the older birds only see a challenge when incomers are at ground level.  The pullets have found safety in their perch and so far have not been followed to their 'lofty' heights.

When on the floor the pullets are still getting challenged but thankfully less than a week ago.  I don't see full integration yet but hopefully soon.  

Aren't these creatures aggressive when taken from their comfort zones?  Little buggas!


RE: Introducing New Stock To Existing Flock - april - 11-05-2019

Yes I have lots of 'perches' (trees, logs, branches etc..) in my run and anyone feeling a bit bullied just takes to somewhere higher up and calm returns to the group. If my newbies are the same size as those in existing flock, I just tend to pop them in to the house at night and this seems to work. However, if they are much smaller and younger, I have a separate house within the run and give them a couple of weeks to get used to seeing each other.


RE: Introducing New Stock To Existing Flock - Eglwyseg - 11-05-2019

Certainly keeps them all calm, the tormentors and the vanquished.

I followed that one earlier in the week, popping them all into the coop [house] at dusk and it was quite funny to listen to them all 'talking' in the dark and not tearing each other a part.

Persevere further I guess but it has been a steep learning curve for me this first week.