Advice for fiesty chicken intimidation of new girls?

(6 Posts)

Lost all but one of our chux to the fox about 2 months ago. Gave up our allotment at this point, (where they were free range) and moved the remaining chuck (Snowbelle) to our backyard where she quickly settled in, was a master escapoligist and became very sociable wandering in and out of the kitchen, and standing in front of the fridge waiting for someone to open it for her, (apart from scaring the living daylights out of our big, mean Staffie!!! grin ).

We finally got a new (hopefully fox proof) pen built at my mother-in-laws (it's in our house deeds that we aren't allowed to keep chickens, and our yard is small), put the coop inside and put Snowbelle in on her own for the first night. Next evening, introduced 3 more pol girls, a ranger, a blue haze and a humbug. Snowbelle is a big old bully and although she doesn't do vicious pecking she has completely intimidated the blue haze and the humbug to the point that they will either not leave the coop, or if I shut the coop she herds them to the far corner, squeezed up behind the coop and will not let them out. The ranger had a go back the first time Snowbelle pecked her and they are fine together, and if we take Snowbelle away, the 3 of them are fine, also.

£6.50 later, Peck stop isn't working because they are just really scared of her and run away before she has a chance to peck much.

We are going to use our broody coop and put Snowbelle in that for a few days on her own, in plain sight of the others, in the hope that they will gain confidence and stand up for themselves. Does anyone think this might work, or have any other suggestions? Failing this we are going to have to give Snowbelle to our previous fellow allotment friend to go in with his birds, but we'd rather not because he's a bit laissez faire about how he cares for them.

Any suggestions or help gratefully received.

bogwoppitinatree Tue 14-May-13 18:10:53

If you do seperate them for the day, you could try putting snowbelle in with the others at night after they are asleep. Chickens seem to forget if they all wake up together. You could try this for a few nights, removing her in the morning then see how they get on being back together full time. Good luck.

Cheers, bogwoppit, we've tried it just for a few hours then back in again at night, with no luck, sorry didn't mean to drip feed just felt it was such a long post anyway! We have got our broody coop ready with a bit of an extension and I think we will leave her in that for a few days and then try putting her in again at night. Tis a dilemma isnt' it, we're really fond of her, and love the new birds too, the traumas of chicken keeping, eh?

In my experience it takes a good two weeks to introduce new girls. They can be nasty. I normally put mine in adjacent runs for a few days to get used to each other but all in the same house at night. Then I throw them all in together and try not to watch!

Cakehead Wed 15-May-13 13:21:41

We had similar when we introduced two newbies to our old girls after a fox strike. Was brutal. Our bully black rock drew blood (big splash across the coop after a nose-peck) on our baby Sussex and the Sussex hid for days in the coop. I had to hand feed her and gradually found if I scattered corn in two areas of the coop, the Sussex would venture out if the Black Rock was busy. Oddly, the ginger we introduced got off scot-free as she looked like the chickens that the fox took and the Black Rock seemed to assumed they'd been returned!
It took a week to sort itself out, and now they're a happy flock. But it was horrible to watch for the first few days. On the plus side, the Sussex is the sweetest, most hand-tamed chicken I've ever had as a result of all the coaxing and feeding.

Hazelbrowneyes Wed 15-May-13 13:32:25

We've been told to let them see each other but keep them separated for two weeks which quite frankly, sounds hellish, but better than letting them peck the crap out of each other. Luckily at the moment we still have 3 girls but we'll be getting 2 more when we get down to 2.

Off topic but I've been dealing with chickens fighting recently. Over March/April the pecking order changed dramatically. Head girl is now at the bottom and not coping too well with it - she hasn't laid for well over a week. The one at the bottom is now at the top and seemed to pick on the middle girl, so much so that we had to tend to a badly wounded comb. It's not nice seeing one chicken pull another chicken off the ramp by her ear either. Luckily, it has all settled down and they seem to be getting on well despite going through massive changes with their living quarters (were free-ranging, now in a walk in run).

When separating them, definitely make sure they can still see each other so they recognise each other when they eventually all go in together.

Good luck.

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