Need (or want) to add some new hens to your flock? Elle Pugsley gives us some hints.
When merging different flocks of chickens or introducing new flock members to an existing flock the transition needs to be done with care.
Start with a deep clean of the run and coop before mixing the birds so the area won’t smell too much of just the original flock members.
When in an enclosed run together it’s best to have a wire fence between them so they can interact without hurting one another. It takes time for them to work out a pecking order. I built a cage inside the run for the new birds to stay inside, whilst able to see and smell their new housemates.
First Free-range together.
When free ranging the group together outside the run, they should have space to move away from each other if they start to squabble. , The first time all the birds are free-ranging together, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on things in case any birds get aggressive. They can be nasty to each other.
Limit Too much free-ranging.
The first few days the whole group free ranged together I pottered around the garden so I could keep a close eye on them. It’s a good thing I did as one of my rescue girls was chased into a dead end in the garden, hopped onto a bin and then onto the garden fence. I quickly grabbed her before she went over, moved the bin, and blocked the dead end. I took that as a sign it was time to cut flight feathers on the new girls so they don’t go fence hopping.
At night, they are more forgiving of each other and will almost always roost together without problems.
When they were ready to share the run without a wire cage between them, I discovered the rescued standard size hens can get up onto the perches in the run. Not even the bantams have never tried to do this. Luckily, the new girls now have a safe zone, should they want to get away from the bantams.
Elle Pugsley started growing her own food last year, and it went so well that the next natural step was to acquire chickens. Starting off with four bantams she fell in love and quickly became a crazy chicken lady. Now she’s opened her coop to three ex-commercial free range hens to rehabilitate and provide them with a forever home. You can see pictures of her hens and gardens on Instagram.