For the first several hours the next day, things were going well. I checked on the hens periodically and noticed a few peckings, but nothing serious. When I went out to check on them during the afternoon, it was obvious that one of the pullets was seriously injured, having lost feathers and skin. After administering first aid for several days, she is healing well and doing fine.
I am now very apprehensive about trying to introduce them again. Do you have any suggestions?
The chickens have been separated and are in side-by-side coops since the attack. Thanks for any suggestions. – Rebecca
When I introduce new chickens, I put them in a wire cage right next to the other hens. They can get used to each other without harming each other. At first, they’ll usually spend time checking out the neighbors, but eventually they’ll get back to pecking and scratching and doing regular chicken things. After a few days of this side-by-side foraging, I put the new hens in with the others at night and hope for the best. So far, it’s worked, and I’ve done this several times over the past three years of chicken-keeping.
You mentioned that one of your pullets had been injured. You’ll know, of course, to make sure she is completely healed before you put her back with the others. At the first spot of blood, chickens can become cannibalistic.
You did not mention, however, how old your new chickens are or what breed. I’ve read that it’s important to wait until young chickens are completely feathered and big enough to fend for themselves before introducing them to the rest of the flock. If the new ones are appreciably smaller than the others, it’s possible that they may be perceived as younger, too.
I have only once put a single “new” chicken in with the flock, and that time really doesn’t count, as the new one had her mother with her to look out for her. In fact, the mother had also been separated during brooding and chick-raising time, so it was as if she were new to the flock as well. I think it’s best to put in at least two, even four or five, new chickens with an established flock. They tend to gang together; just one chick receives all the attention, and it’s often not good!
Finally, I like to introduce chickens to each other when they have lots of room to maneuver. If they have lots of room to scoot around, and to keep out of each other’s way, they’ll also have more room to gradually become used to each other.
Good luck with your newest additions!