Due to some sad losses, we’ve been down to two chickens in our flock for a while now, and with spring arriving we wanted to expand the brood. So back to Hinchliffe’s Farm we went, and luckily for us, they still had a few point of lay hens for sale, despite an unprecedented demand for them recently.
We got two Speckled Rocks, which Emilia quickly named Jessica and Kayla (after her two best friends). They arrived home a little stunned, and entered the arena with our two Warrens, Henrietta (our oldest – 7 years now) and Captain Birdseye.
It wasn’t long before Henny had the two newbies hiding, somewhat terrified, in the coop. Any attempt to emerge had her charging at them, mercilessly pecking them into a corner. We knew to expect this. We know that hen-pecking is a reality, and there is a pecking order to establish, but it doesn’t make it any easier to witness. We let them be for two days before I intervened. It wasn’t getting any worse, but the new chooks weren’t allowed to get anywhere near the food and water, and that’s not going to end well, is it.
So, I used a trick I’ve used before when introducing new chooks. The Omlet run actually makes introducing new hens quite easy using this method. You just need some garden canes (make sure they’re about 2m long – they’re going to take some abuse). It’s that simple.
Here’s what to do:
- Feed the garden canes through the mesh of the run panels to make a kind of wall that splits the run in two. Make sure the gaps are small enough so the chickens can’t break through.
- Put food and water in each half, and gave the new chickens the end of the run that has the coop. (This way they get used to their full surroundings, and can feel properly at home before having to tackle the older chooks. It also makes the older ones get used to seeing the newbies in their territory.)
- Remove the canes to let the older chickens in to roost at night, and then separate them again the following morning.
It took just a couple of days of doing this until we saw all four chooks emerge together in the morning. It was such a relief to see them all out, all eating and drinking, and all ok. There’s still the odd chase and peck of course, but nothing too severe, and the new ones don’t need to retreat and cower in the coop anymore. The run is now their space too, and they’re fully at home.
I think the oldies are happy to have some new friends – I just collected the first egg of this year!
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