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HELP - older chickens picking on new chickens.

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#1 Madeline's Mum

Posted 06 January 2013 - 06:53 PM

Hello, I am in need of some help. We have had 2 Isa Brown chickens since late September. Yesterday morning we purchased 2 more Isa Browns and the older hens are picking on the new ones sad.gif

They have plenty of space, lots of water and food (pellets as well as scraps) and a big coop.

Just now we noticed that one of the new hens has a huge bunch of feathers missing from under/to the rear of her right wing, it's a bit bloody and she is limping, I think she needs to be put down sad.gif

Even as my husband was holding her to show me, one of the older hens came charging at her and going crazy at her neck.

Is this normal territorial behaviour? Will they get used to each other or keep picking on one another? The two older hens never had an issue with each other..

Any advice warmly appreciated, thanks!

ETA - the older hens were 18 weeks when we got them (so around 42 weeks) and the new hens are just 18 weeks. Purchased from the same farm.

Edited by Madeline's Mum, 06 January 2013 - 06:55 PM.

#2 FiveAus

Posted 06 January 2013 - 06:57 PM

Yes, it's normal, especially for Isa Browns who can be very aggressive towards other hens. Separate them so they can see each other but not get to each other. Put the new ones in an aviary, large wire crate or some other sort of enclosure next to the current hen house.

#3 MissingInAction

Posted 06 January 2013 - 06:59 PM

I've never had chooks but my aunties & uncles do and I remember them talking about exactly this.  From my understanding of it, it is completely normal, territorial behaviour and should calm down within a few weeks.  They'll pick on the new ones to suss them out, toughen them up, remind them where there place is and all the rest and then, once they've "passed" their initiation they'll be nice to them and they should get along original.gif

#4 greatwon2

Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:00 PM

Normal chook behavior , just watch they don't go over board ..they can and will kill other chickens on occasion ..tho i have found that often they will only do that if that particular chook is a bit off colour so i think its a survival thing to take out the weak/sick ones - hopefully they sort out their pecking order soon for you ..it can be distressing to watch , especially if your quite fond of your chooks.

#5 noi'mnot

Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:03 PM

Yes it's normal, and particularly bad with Isa Browns. You need to isolate the injured bird immediately, because they may kill it once they realise how vulnerable it is. sad.gif

Technically, you should quarantine any new birds for at least a couple of weeks to make sure they don't have any bugs that may be introduced to your flock. Then, you let them get to know each other gradually, start with through a wire fence and slowly work up to being in the same physical space.

#6 whale-woman

Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:04 PM

Chooks will peck at blood and continue to do so till they kill a wounded bird. Get the injured bird separate. Put it in a hospital cage.
Keep an eye on the other new one. Chooks will establish an'pecking order.'' Their behavior should settle down in a few days. If the injured one recovers once it's healed reintroduce it keeping an eye on preceedings.

#7 FiveAus

Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:05 PM

Treat the injuries with warm salt water and Betadine. She will probably be OK, but please don't let them keep hurting her.

#8 greatwon2

Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:06 PM

oppse somehow missed that one of them is injured
You need to isolate the injured bird immediately, because they may kill it once they realise how vulnerable it is

I second this, if its injured they most likely will keep going for the poor thing

#9 melaine

Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:07 PM

QUOTE (FiveAus @ 06/01/2013, 07:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Yes, it's normal, especially for Isa Browns who can be very aggressive towards other hens. Separate them so they can see each other but not get to each other. Put the new ones in an aviary, large wire crate or some other sort of enclosure next to the current hen house.

We had similar when we added some isa browns. The hen that got badly pecked survived and is fine now. I thought we would need to put it down (all the advice I read said they'd kill it but luckily that didn't).

When we added some australorps we kept them separate in a large cage for a couple of weeks. They are all together now and while they are still working out the 'pecking order' they are getting along ok now.

#10 mokeydoke

Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:08 PM

I googled after this happened to our chooks, and the advice was to put the new ones in during the dark of night, which we did. When they all woke up it was like the new ones had been there all along. I set my alarm for the pre-dawn hours to check on them and again when I first woke.

#11 ubermum

Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:10 PM

It's called 'establishing the pecking order'. You see the same behaviour in the school ground and on eb.

#12 Madeline's Mum

Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:11 PM

We seperated her immediately, as soon as we realised she was hurt. I will wash her wounds with warm water and betadine now, thanks for the tip.

We introduced them slowly yesterday, had them seperated and when they seemed ok we put them in the same pen.

The other new hen seems ok, no injuries.

#13 asdf89

Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:13 PM

Agree with PPs - this is where the phrase 'pecking order' comes from. Chooks can be quite cruel while trying to sort it out.

Our chook pen could be divided in two (simply with an additional section of chicken wire) so new chooks could be eye-balled by the old ones. Keep the new girls separate until they recover (but still within view of the others) and then try to re-introduce them.

#14 Kalota

Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:15 PM

It's completely normal behaviour, chickens have a very strong sense of a pecking oder (literally). Last ear we introduced some new chickens to our batch and the older chickens picked on them and constantly pecked them/stood on them etc sad.gif

A little trick that we were told was to rub Vicks Vapor Rub on the little chickens that were getting pecked - it worked for ours, the peckers mustn't like the smell or taste of the Vicks!

#15 ~*Amethyst*~

Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:54 PM

Separate them & quickly. We used to just let ours sort themselves out but after losing one lot to the pecking order & having an escapee cannabalised,  we now just run a wire fence between the old & the new chooks & introduce one old chook in with the newbies for a week & so on.

They can be nasty critters!


Edited by ~*Amethyst*~, 06 January 2013 - 07:59 PM.

#16 kadoodle

Posted 07 January 2013 - 06:00 PM

QUOTE (ubermum @ 06/01/2013, 08:10 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It's called 'establishing the pecking order'. You see the same behaviour in the school ground and on eb.


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