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Trio of a Cockerel and two HensIntroducing New Birds to an Existing Flock

Many people, once they have started keeping poultry, soon begin hankering after a few more birds. Poultry keeping is addictive. The trouble is that bringing in new stock can generate all sorts of aggravation between the new and the established birds. If you have the space to keep them separate, in individual pens for different flocks, then this is a good option.

If possible try to ensure that the new ones are of a similar size to the current flock. If those being added are small or not yet fully mature they will tend to get bullied much more.

Birds that are not fully mature are likely to behave in a submisive manner when confronted with existing stock and this attitude is likely to promote bullying. Different breeds will also have different attitudes to new arrivals.

It can help to provide distractions such as hanging CDs for them to peck at. Offer plenty room, avoid overcrowding and provide objects to run around and to jump on.

Introduce new birds in the hen house at night when it is dark. Also make sure the new birds have had a good feed and drink.

Observe what happens when you first let the birds out in the morning after introduction. You may notice the odd peck but if you are lucky that would be about it.

If one of your original birds persistently goes for the new arrivals in a bad way then remove it but leave the new ones in place. Then hopefully after a few days everything will have settled down and you can re-introduce the bully.

If you have the space and accommodation available, split the original pen and allow the birds to meet through a wire fence for a week or so. This will let them see each other but they cannot pick a fight. After this period you can let them mix during the day, each sleeping in a seperate house and then allowing them to run together.

The alternative, to avoid any introductory trouble at all, is to simply replace the original birds with new pullets.

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Free Range Hen and Cockerel
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Lone Chicken with a Mirror for company

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