So you bought some chicks a few weeks ago and they are quickly outgrowing their brooder, they grow fast don’t they! Now you’re wondering what to do with them. If you have an existing flock and are a seasoned chicken keeper you probably already know that introducing new members to your flock can be challenging. If this is your first time introducing newbies, here are some helpful tips to make the transition go a little smoother.
1. Never put newbies in with the flock without a proper introduction!
~ If you just open the coop and put new birds in, the already established flock will not be welcoming at all! They will chase, peck at, and ultimately attack the new intruders and this can result in death! Chickens can be territorial! To prevent that, you MUST properly introduce them by sectioning off an area both in the coop and in the run where both sets of flock members can both see and hear each other without anyone getting hurt, put the newbies in this “safe zone.” You will want to do this for a week to start. After a week, you can let them out under careful supervision! If it does not go well, put the newbies back in their “safe zone” and try again in another week. This could take several attempts so be patient! Eventually everyone will learn to accept one another. However, I have personally had experience where just 1 bird was being a “bully” and picking on all the newbies even after several weeks. If this happens within your flock, simply reverse the situation. Instead of locking up the newbies, lock up the bully and repeat the “safe zone” steps until everyone is getting along. As I said, be patient, this could take a month or so!
2. Never introduce just 1 bird to your flock!
~ Introducing just 1 bird is basically a death sentence for that bird. Always introduce more than 1 at a time.
3. Offer hiding places and distractions!
~ Having hiding places gives scared new birds an outlet from any bullying they receive. It is a chickens natural instinct to establish “the pecking order.” There WILL BE pecking even after a proper introduction, this is normal as long as no one is bleeding. If bleeding occurs, remove the bleeding bird, treat, and put back in the “safe zone” until the wounds heal.
~ Offering distractions when introducing new members is also helpful. It gives would be bullies something else to do. Distractions can be anything, but new treats work best. Many feed stores sell treat cakes which take chickens awhile to get thru. Or you can hang a head of cabbage or 2 to keep them busy. Use your imagination.
Applying just these few steps can make things go so much easier on all of your feathered friends.