Integrating the New Hens

You may recall that we picked up a couple of new hens from the NY State Fair earlier in the fall. We quarantined them in the chicken tractor for a few weeks to make sure they settled in to the new area and they were healthy.

After a couple of weeks and no signs of illness, we moved the chicken tractor into the field with the main flock so the new hens could see and smell the main flock while safely in the chicken tractor. Many members of the main flock crowded around the chicken tractor to meet the new hens.

The main flock meets the new hens.

The main flock meets the new hens.

Neither the main flock nor the new hens seemed troubled by each other and we were hopeful that the full integration would be successful.

After a week or two with the main flock (from within the chicken tractor), it was time to fully integrate the new hens.  After sunset one evening, once the hens (and Pineapple, our rooster) were mostly asleep, we picked up the new hens and placed them onto the roost bars in the main coop alongside the rest of the flock. Chickens tend to become much more docile after sunset when roosting.

The new hens roost in the coop.

The new hens roost in the main coop.

The new hens had no trouble that first night. They were a little hesitant about leaving the main coop for most of the following day and hung out on the roost bars long after the rest of the flock had left for the day, but they eventually headed out into the fields.

They did have some minor pecking squabbles with other hens over the following few days and nights as the hens reconfigured their pecking order to integrate the new members. The new hens are currently towards the bottom of the social order and usually get pushed off to the least desirable roost spots in the coop.

They were also initially hesitant to get into the middle of the main flock to get their share of the grain or sunflower seeds we scatter for them. However, over several weeks, they gained a lot of confidence and now are much more comfortable within the flock.


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