Monday, April 28, 2014

New Chickens, Meet Old Chickens

On Saturday, we officially introduced the new chickens to the old chickens. By this I mean I removed the little introduction pen I had constructed, and the flocks intermingled at last.

The new chickens being assumed into the existing chicken flock.
This shot shows 9 new chickens and 13 old chickens.
Overall, it went very smoothly.

Of course, removing Corn the Rooster really helped. I caught him for butchering shortly before I released the new chickens. He was acting very aggressive toward the new roosters, even when they were in the cage. Worse, he was attacking us, making everyone (including me) a bit afraid to collect eggs. I started arming myself with heavy sticks and/or plastic baseball bats for slef-defense whilst egg collecting. Yes, I was arming myself against a chicken - is this real life? I also feared he would kill the new roosters and possibly attack/harm some of the new hens.

With Corn out of the picture, I lifted up the chicken introduction pen and let them all go. They were scared and did NOT want to come out. It took a lot of coaxing bu they finally came out.

"But I like it in here!"
A few funny and interesting things happened the first day. First, with Corn gone and the chickens officially in a single flock, the pecking order really took shape. In one instance, for example, a Barred Rock (new chicken) was dust bathing when an Australorp (old) came over and kicked her out of the hole. She squawked and flapped and chased the Barred Rock out - then took over the dusting spot. Also, the flocks were very segregated - for the first 48 hours, the old chickens stayed on one side, and the new chickens on the other side of the pen. There were some exceptions, but this was the rule of the weekend.

Two new Leghorn chickens (a rooster and hen) meet Porkie the American Guinea Hog.
Another funny thing happened with the roosters. Immediately, one of the new roosters (both are Leghorns) took Corn's vacated spot and spent all his time with the old chickens. The other rooster stuck to the new chickens. in their segregated mini-flocks, one was with the 15 old hens, and the other rooster was with the 14 new hens. All the time. It was hilarious. The new chickens actually nestled in to sleep on the ground where their introduction pen had been (rather than roosting in the coop), so i had to manually pick them up and place them in the coop. But I only counted 15, not 16. Sure enough, the one rooster was right their roosting with the old chickens. He was the ONLY new chicken that roosted that night, too.

The best thing was there were no fights, pecking, bloodshed, or anything nasty that went on. I think having them in the same area to "get to know each other" for 3.5 days made a good deal of difference.

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