The new chicks are more and more chickeny everyday. Tomorrow I will be making a small opening in the integration pen so that the new girls can wander out at their leisure and run screaming back in if they get too picked on. We have learned over the last few years that this is the best way to do it. Let them see each other from a safe distance for a week or so. Then, let them find their pecking order with an escape route . After a week or two take away the integration pen. If one of the old birds gets too aggressive with the new ones, isolate her for a day (they hate that and they know it is punishment for bad behavior). The first couple of nights you may have to do a pen search for the new ones to make sure they all get into the big girl coop. It helps to clean and sterilize the old coop (and re-arrange the roosts if that is feasible) before you put the new ones in. It will de-stabilize the old flock enough that they will accept the new ones. They love their own smell and will get confused if its not there. If they all feel like they are in a new environment , they will huddle together for safety.
Had a conversation recently with someone who hates chickens because they are stupid and cannot be trained. Newsflash. Chickens can be trained. You just have to spend time with them like any other domestic animal. Positive reinforcement, conditioning..... and, sometimes, a time out for aggressive behavior and your flock will be easily managed. It helps to know some basic chicken psychology. If you get a hen or rooster that is aggressive toward you, place your hand on their back and gently but firmly press them to the ground. This puts you at the top of the pecking order. I had to do this in the first twenty minutes with the new rooster we just received. He didn't want me anywhere near his girls. I don't want to interfere with his job (cuz that's why we got him) But, he needs to know I am the Boss-From-The-Big-House and ultimately... all decisions rest with me. We have been getting along great since then and he even shows off his rooster skills for me when I go out to hang out with them. The bright student that raised the chicks was surprised that it worked on one of the hens that had become so aggressive they thought she was a rooster. They transported her in a separate box because she was pecking them so hard and just being mean. When they told me this, I lifted her from the box, set her on the ground and pressed her back firmly down . I held her there to a slow count of ten and then let her go. She has been docile ever since. When getting new birds for the first time or integrating new birds into your old flock.... remember , the first thing you want to do is establish yourself firmly at the top of the pecking order.
|Silkie and Wyandotte pullets|