On the 7th April I helped a friend out who had a chicken that had been pecked by the other chickens in her little flock , her feathers were all missing from her neck and head and had her comb pecked .. My friend was really concerned about her and being a great chicken mum just wanted the best for her chicken.We discussed me taking her on as she had never really settled even after a year and we both thought we would give it a go . We decided that if it did not work out she would be returned .I had four chickens two of which were new to me and just beginning to lay and had just more or less settled so it was a big decision and as I have always read adding one chicken to a flock can be quite traumatic not only for the chickens but for the owner as well..
My set up and where she would start her new life .
I have a WIR that is 4m x 4m and in two halves that has a drop down hatch so that it can be separated at any time .The old girls had the biggest part with a Solway recycled coup that should sleep six but I reckon it is so big they could have a sleepover at weekends with at least another 4 mates over (not my friends others ). I have a small plastic dog kennel which I had stored away from when I added my other two girls and it went in the smaller side with the hatch down.
Blossom (AKA Bluebell)was kept on her own for a few days to settle down and so that the old girls could see her and get used to her being there . Bonnie an old girl screamed non stop for three hours but settled down the next day …”How dare this new girl lodge in my home ?”
After a day I shut the old girls out to FR for a couple of hours while Blossom roamed around the whole of the WIR and then after three days shut the old girl in the WIR and let Blossom roam the garden and find her bearings .
Mixing them together
A week on and they were mixing together in the garden and apart from the occasional peck she was with the old girls all the time but sleeping in her little coup on her own . I noticed though that they were all occasionally having a peck at each other and of course that is because the pecking order was being re-established . On the 20th April Bluebell one of the old girls decided to sleep in the little coup which really upset Blossom so I had to lift her in for the night .
The next evening Bluebell did the same thing so I put Blossom into the big coup and left Bluebell to it. The next day I took the little coup away as I though it might make Bluebell separate from the others and all went into the big coup but I had to put Blossom in it . Last night was an Eureka moment when Blossom went into the big coup with the big girls on her own .
The latest update and a few tips .
Blossom is a Chalk hill Blue and lays lovely blue eggs. She has only missed two days of egg laying since we had her. This surprised me as I thought that she would lay less because of the upset.
They are all together now day and night .It has taken just over two weeks and I am surprised that it has been done so quickly as I was expecting loads of problems seeing as Blossom was a single girl joining four girls .Her comb is now better and her little top knot and feathers on her neck are re growing .She often does her own thing and when they are dust bathing or all sat on a log she is now sitting closer or with them and not so ready to jump away .
I know that things can change and that there will be spats but I am sure that we are on the way to having a happy flock of five .
Take your time .There is no hurry.
- Keep them separate for at least a week .
- Make sure that before you let them FR together you let your new girl explore the space so she knows where to hide if need be.
- Expect some screaming and upset from the old girls.
- If bullying does go for too long on after mixing separate the bully if you can .
- If there is feather loss give extra protein like tinned tuna ,scrambled egg and the favourite meal worms .