How to Keep Chickens – Introducing new chickens

New chickens being introduced to a coopKeeping chickens: Adding new birds

It’s always exciting to bring home new hens, but you’ll often find your existing flock are none too impressed. Here are a few tips to guide you when introducing new birds to existing chickens.

TIPS: Introducing new birds

  • Always isolate the new comers for at least two weeks to ensure any unwanted diseases will not affect your existing flock.
  • Never mix large chickens with Bantams (small birds) as they will always be bullied and may even be killed.
  • Successfully mixing birds of different ages will be difficult: young pullets will be more prone to bullying by the larger mature chickens and will not be able to stand up to them.
  • Young chickens being introduced to a flockMixing different breeds can cause problems as some breeds and individual birds are more aggressive than others – Faverolles, Orpington, Brahma and Polish are all prone to getting bullied, while some game birds and certain strains of Wyandottes can be particularly domineering.
  • Smaller flocks usually have a stronger pecking order compared with larger flocks, so introduction may be more traumatic. A large flock usually consists of small groups with their own pecking order; each group will stick together.
  • You should never introduce one new bird at a time, but always introduce them in groups of two or more to stop the attention getting focused on a solo stranger. The newcomers can also keep each other company during the introduction period.
  • You will need to place several drinkers and feeders in the enclosure for the new birds, as the others may try and stop them from using existing ones.
  • Treat any wounds with an antiseptic spray such as Gentian, which can also help against feather pecking

Find out more about introducing new chickens in the 2009 edition of Grow Your Own.

About Val

Val always wanted to keep hens. Her first experience of hen keeping was moving to a house with a garden many years ago. She tried hard to gain experience by reading as many books as possible, but found that nothing beats hands on experience... which you cannot get until you attend a course or have your chickens.
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