Keeping 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.
- Mixing 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