Introducing new chickens to the coop

I have two new chickens. I am SO happy, but my two older hens are less happy. You see, introducing new chickens to an existing coop is definitely not trivial.

The first time I had chickens was when I was a little girl, so having chickens for me has a great sense of nostalgia. It was a dream come true when two years ago I got 4 little Booted Bantam hens. Just 12 weeks old they were at the time. LOVE the feathers on their feet!

young booted bantam chickens

Unfortunately I lost one chick very soon to Marek’s desease, a fatal chicken disease which caused me to have her euthanized before it slowly killed her. I lost a second hen for reasons unknown a year later. Just found her dead in the pen one morning. So now I only had two little hens and I thought I would love to have two more. They are just part of my family. Here one of my hens (all grown up now) is checking up on my crochet work.

I got two new hens from a respectable breeder whom I knew vaccinated for Marek’s, I did not want to repeat going through the process of having to put one of my hens down again. My two new hens were 16 weeks old when I got them which is considerably smaller than my adult hens. That proved to be a problem….

booted bantam chickens 16 weeks old

I put the new hens with the old ones in the night pen when it was dark and the chickens are sleeping in the hope that in the morning they would wake up together and think ‘did I miss these yesterday?’. My old hens however did not accept the newcomers. IT WAS WAR! Especially the brown little hen was the focus of everyone’s anger. At a certain point I really thought they were going to kill her. The young hens were in one corner of the coop playing dead hoping that if they didn’t move they wouldn’t be noticed. They had feathers pulled out of their backs and blood was flowing from their heads. I had to intervene.

My husband made a fence in the coop separating the young hens from the old ones. They could see each other, but they could not get to each other. In the beginning there as a lot of jumping at the fence, but at a certain point it calmed down. I had them like this for two weeks eyeballing each other and giving one another the evil eye.

After two weeks the young hens were 18 weeks old which meant they were bigger and stronger and I though that now they should be able to fight back. This was the main problem before when I introduced them to the coop the first time. They were just too weak to stand their ‘hen’ against the older ones.

You are not going to believe this. I read a great trick on the internet regarding 4711 and chickens. At night I put them together again in the night pen but this time I totally drenched them in 4711 perfume that I still had around from my grandmother. This way they all smell the same. Did I say smell, I meant stink the same. I left the night pen open as well as the door to the garden. This way when morning came they could all go outside.

Seriously, it worked like a charm. The first day there was a bit of a scuffle here and there, but nothing major. Two days later and the pecking order was established and I had 4 hens living together in harmony.

My kids love my hens and my hens love my kids and I love all of them. Life is good.

child holding a chicken

Finally peace is transcending on my garden again. Hope your house is peaceful too.

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4 thoughts on “Introducing new chickens to the coop

  1. Last time we got new hens they were bigger than the oldies, but we still kept them separate but visible to each other for 10 days. When we finally put them together all was peaceful. Since then, the newbies have grown into HUGE hens but they are very gentle and the flock is completely peaceful. Of course, we can’t keep getting bigger and bigger hens every time we introduce new ones, otherwise we’ll end up with a flock of ostriches!!!

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