Allotment Gardening Advice Help Chat

Poultry and Pets => The Hen House => Topic started by: Elcie on February 06, 2010, 17:57

Title: Introducing new hens to existing hens
Post by: Elcie on February 06, 2010, 17:57
OK everyone I would love some advice please.  I currently have 2 hens living in the back garden who sleep in an Eglu (used to be 3 but one died recently) and freerange around the garden.  I am planning on moving them to the allotment once I finally get round to building a new run/coop for them over there.  I am allowed up to 10 hens at the allotment but think I would like to go for 6.  My question is, I know that hens are notoriously problematic when introducing new ones.  I would love to get 4 new to add to my current 2.  What advice do you have for someone who has no way of separating them?  Will they work it out without killing each other?  I was thinking of introducing them late at night when they are sleepy and putting them in the Eglu but doing it when I have a week off work so I am around when they start free ranging together to keep an eye on them.  I thought I would do this at home before I move them to the allotment as it is easier here.

Any help or advice gratefully received!
Title: Re: Introducing new hens to existing hens
Post by: chloe on February 06, 2010, 18:08
The best thing to do is put them in all together at night and then let them out in the morning together, your original hens will pick on them for a couple of days - 4 days thats what happend to mine and they will soon sort out a pecking order , within a week everything should be fine  :blush:
Title: Re: Introducing new hens to existing hens
Post by: SUTTY1 on February 06, 2010, 18:39
Just an idea but if they going to plot anyway could you maybe split run up temporarilyand take Egluu up there let them see and each other for a week or so then mix them in new house one night and open run up.  Even let them free range a bit first!! Prob not much they can harm on plot now
Title: Re: Introducing new hens to existing hens
Post by: chloe on February 06, 2010, 18:57
thats a good idea  :D
Title: Re: Introducing new hens to existing hens
Post by: joyfull on February 06, 2010, 19:15
you could move the older ones into their new home at the same time as getting your new girls - this way none of them will be used to the place and not think that it is theirs. Hens can be quite territorial.
Title: Re: Introducing new hens to existing hens
Post by: carolbriar on February 06, 2010, 20:54
I agree with Joyfull.  If the original girls and the new girls are put into the new coop together then both lots will be in unfamiliar surroundings.  I had three hens and then added two more.  I put them together in the coop when it was dark and let them out in the morning.  The original girls came out and when they went in and found these strangers inside there was a bit of squabbling and pecking but really within a few days they were ok.  They have been together for nearly 8 weeks now and they all seem to take it in turns at running after each other and sometimes fluffing out their neck feathers but don't seem to be doing any harm.  Don't know if this is normal or whether they are still sorting out the final pecking order?
Title: Re: Introducing new hens to existing hens
Post by: Elcie on February 06, 2010, 21:29
Thanks for the advice everyone.  Because I am adding at least 4 hens I wanted to avoid them living in the Eglu and run as it is quite small for them, although I had thought of this.  Putting them altogether in a new situation is a good idea, I was just thinking it might be easier if I am home to sort them out as necessary whereas on the plot they are on their own a lot of the time.  I think I imagined that having 2 at home used to their surroundings and being bossy would be balanced and outnumbered by 4 new ones at home.  I will let you know what I decide!
Title: Re: Introducing new hens to existing hens
Post by: francais on February 06, 2010, 21:45
I was very lucky - I had to add just one lady to an existing two birds at Christmas time. I expected nothing short of a blood bath! TBH it wasn't too bad - a bit of pecking getting - well getting the pecking order right :lol:

I did add extra feeder & water away from the main, so she could escape to that if needed.

She's still the lower ranking of the three, but now they all huddle together and wander about happy.

I know from what I have read on here, I must have been lucky for it to happen so well, and am keeoing my fingers crossed for the next additions (although I will add min 2 at a time next time) adding just 1 was not through choice, but worked out ok.
Title: Re: Introducing new hens to existing hens
Post by: IMOmimey on February 06, 2010, 23:09
All those suggestions sound good advice, but what about quarantine?
Title: Re: Introducing new hens to existing hens
Post by: Tracey T on February 07, 2010, 14:42
Iam afraid Iam still having lots of trouble after introducing 2 new hens to my existing 2 back in november! I followed all the tips and kept them in a separate run and house but side by side, then put them in together at night, but they pecked the legs of the 2 new hens till they were a real mess. We separated them again and took out the 2 old hens and disorientated them before reintroducing them and eventually re-introduced them just before Christmas, thought all was well at last but the other day one of the newer hens was dripping with blood where it had been pecked so badly and the other new one is bald at the base of the tail! Back to square one, have used purple spray and stockhom tar but still struggling and ready to give up! 
Title: Re: Introducing new hens to existing hens
Post by: joyfull on February 07, 2010, 14:52
Tracey, get some beak clips (I think they are available from the wild fowl trust - I did have some from them 1 for 8 but can't find them) and put them on the trouble makers. These allow them to eat but not pull feathers. Until they arrive and are fitted keep your birds separate as the sight of blood will send them all into a frenzy and sadly you could lose your new girls  :( Chickens are sometimes really nasty. Don't give up  :)