So you’ve had your chickens a while now, and fancy adding even more chickens to the flock. Integrating chicken into a flock can be very difficult and is usually stressful for both you and your hens. It isn’t impossible but when chickens have an established pecking order and you introduce new chickens this upsets the hierarchy. Unfortunately this causes a lot of nasty behaviour. Your little darlings will turn into terrors. This is inevitable but don't worry it is only temporary.
Helen Goodson's hens being introduced to their new Orpington hen friends
Here are 5 steps to help you through the process of introducing new chickens to your flock.
- Allow Your Flock To See Your New Chickens - If it is feasible the best way to introduce new chickens is to put them in a separate house and run but where your flock can see them. You should leave them like this for a week so the old chickens get used to the presence of the new chickens. After a week you can then introduce them into the flock. If you don’t have the ability to do this skip this step and start at step 2.
- Introduce Your New Chickens To The Flock - The best way to do this is at night when your chickens have gone in to roost. Simply place the new chickens in the house with them at night. In the morning let your hens out and keep an eye on them. There will be some pecking and scraps while your chickens establish the pecking order but they should settle after roughly a week.
- Provide Distractions And Space - You can make the whole process a little less stressful by letting your chickens free range so any newbies can escape attacks. It is also a good idea to provide plenty of distractions for your chickens. This can be anything from hanging greens to spreading kitchen scraps around the run. These distractions should hopefully distract your chickens from pecking and bullying the new chickens.
- Provide Extra Food And Water - You will want to provide another source of feed and water to avoid your chickens preventing the newbies from eating.
- Intervene When Necessary - You may find that the attacks on the new hens will be very viscous. If you think a chicken is being bullied to the point where she is bleeding then you will need to intervene to stop these attacks. Start by splitting up the fight; you may have to do this several times before the attacks stop. If the offending chicken is still insistent on attacking and is causing considerable damage then you will need to remove her and isolate her for a couple of days. You should find that when she is reintroduced she won’t attack the new chickens as much.