Written by: Ashton
Raising chickens can easily become an addictive hobby. You told yourself that you would only be getting four chickens and soon you start thinking of other breeds you would like to bring into your flock. Soon four chickens turns into a small army of feathered friends. It’s an easy hole to fall into (ask me how I know). It happens to the best of us! Unfortunately, adding new members to your flock is not always an easy task. Naturally, chickens develop a “pecking order”. This is an established order of dominance within the flock. Every hen knows her place, so when new chickens are introduced to the flock the pecking order will need to be re-established. This may cause bullying issues within your coop. Before an issue arises, here are some ways to help avoid the problems:
Quarantine New Chickens
Adult birds are more likely to carry disease or infection than chicks from a hatchery or reputable breeder. When you bring new birds home, make sure you have a separate pen or crate prepared for them that is plenty far from your main coop. From this separate pen you can observe them and determine whether they are disease free and fit enough to join the rest of the flock. Quarantine should last for a minimum of 7 days. The longer the quarantine period is, the more time you have to spot any illness.
Work in Groups
Try your best to introduce newbies to your flock in groups of two or more. Introducing a solo bird to the flock can be very stressful. Introducing multiple birds at a time helps ensure that one bird is not being isolated from the rest of the flock. If bullying occurs, one chicken will not have to take the brunt of it all.
Add New Members at Night
Adding new birds to the coop when the existing flock is roosted for the evening gives the new chickens time to get used to their new living space quietly and comfortably before the daunting new day begins.
Distraction is Key
Providing distractions like scratch grains, fresh veggies, or new coop bedding is a great way to keep everyone busy and their attention diverted from the new kid on the block.
Become Neighbors Before Coop Mates
A good way to introduce your new chickens to your existing flock is by putting the new flock in a small fenced in area near your main run. This allows everyone to become familiar with each other without having the ability to be aggressive towards one another. Try to keep these arrangements for a week or so for best results.
Introducing your newbies can be intimidating, but don’t let that stop you from expanding your flock. Eventually, peace will return to your coop and the stress will diminish. Until next time at least!