With Spring just around the corner you might be thinking about introducing some new chooks to your flock. New girls in the hen house can cause quite a disruption to an established flock. It can also be a scary, dangerous business for the newcomers unless managed well.
Chickens need a pecking order, a secret hierarchy within the flock where everyone knows their place. It defines who sleeps with whom, who gets food first, and who’s the boss of the others. In times gone by this set of rules helped to protect the flock, keep them strong, and made sure limited resources were spread around.
When newcomers are added to the flock a pecking order needs to be re-established.
Some chickens can be tolerant, even welcoming of a newcomer but others can be vicious, bossy and relentless especially with younger or weaker ones in a flock. You may need to separate the bullies out for a while.
Introducing birds of similar age and size will help reduce fighting.
Here are a few practical things to help new chickens adapt:
- A splash of Apple Cider Vinegar in their water will help manage stress.
- Introduce 2 or more birds at a time.
- A gang of fit, young birds could cause stress to older, mature chooks who may retaliate and pick on the young ones.
- Young chicks need to be at least 4 or 6 weeks old so they’re speedy and strong enough to duck and weave their way to safety from an older brute!
- It helps to have good hidey spots and escape routes for them like big open chook wire so that chicks can get through but not larger birds.
- Add new birds at night, but be ready to manage early morning arguments.
- Ideally you’ll keep new birds, especially young chicks in a separate fenced off run within the yard for a week to acclimatise. They’ll be more likely to be nice when beak to beak.
- Food is a good leveler, if you can spread it far and wide for a flock of new friends. Dangle a cabbage ball.
- Control disease by keeping new birds separate at first. But it’s better to check each bird, before acquiring, for mites or lice, scaly leg, a good bright comb, clear eyes and nostrils.
- If you have a large flock with more than one rooster keep new boys separate at first. Otherwise they’ll fight over chooks who will suffer from too much mounting and aggression as the boys fight over them, literally!
Remember, chickens rely on each other in so many ways. It matters that they all get on.
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Super Mash is a monthly treatment to help keep chickens healthy. It’s a natural antiparasitic that contains ACV, nutrients and probiotics to boost and re-vitalise your chickens in a natural way.
Find out more and order online at https://naturalchickenhealth.com.au/
Natural Chicken Health – Super Mash is a natural feed supplement to help keep your chooks healthy all year round.