Introducing New Chickens

The Boxer Farm is ALWAYS a place where an animal or human friend in need can come and stay as long as needed.  We recently had a human friend stay with us for about a week of needed escape from life's little problems.  Something about the trees, the grass, the animals, the peace, just calms everybody.  For that week, we were the Boxer Farm Relaxation and Rejuvenation Center.

Today, however, the Boxer Farm is temporary home to 5 new (adult) chickens!  Our best friends S&S are selling their house, and chickens are so NOT on the "staging" list.  In addition, best friend S' sister also just sold her house and is "homeless" for the time being.  To the Boxer Farm they all came until a new living situation is accomplished.

The key to introducing new chickens to each other is Separation with Visual Contact.  This means that the chickens are physically separated from each other, but can see each other.  Through a wire fence, for example.  This way, they get to know each other, but cannot physically attack each other.  Chickens are very tied to their social structure, their pecking order.  When new girls are introduced, all that goes out the window as chickens challenge each other, try to figure out the new order and sometimes attack or bully others.  Your sweet as pie Buff Orpington could suddenly turn into the aggressor, or your HMIC (Head Midge in Charge) could turn docile and quiet.  All bets are off.

This is one thing that is great about our fenced in pen and coop complex.  Because of all the additions, we have a lot of doors that open and close, which allows all kinds of different access points.  This time, we had 3 sets of girls that needed to be separated--ours, S&S' three and the sister's two.  Each needs their own roaming space, their own nesting space, and coop space for sleeping.

The set of 2, from here on out, Frick and Frack, stayed in the pen.  I placed a small cat/dog carrier inside with straw for a nesting box and built a make-shift sleeping coop out of hardware cloth/wood panels I had laying around.  (Doesn't everyone??) These were actually pieces of a mail-order coop that's no longer in use.  They apparently are used to sleeping in an open-air situation, so that should make them feel more at home. I *literally* put it together with zip ties so I could disassemble it easily since this situation is supposedly temporary.  It's not quite up to the security standards here, but it's much safer than the chainlink fence on the pen and it would still take an extremely strong animal to get through this.

S&S's three girls, the Flowers (Lily, Marigold, and Rose) stayed outside the fenced in area--free ranging in the backyard.  They came with their own ADORABLE coop with nesting box....and stairs!

Our girls stayed in their fenced in area, but we had to open a different access point so they could get to their nesting boxes.

I expect this separation to last a day or two.  Sometimes, it can take more than that.  It's easier when you have a lot of free-ranging space, because the factions can roam sort of in their little groups and gradually integrate into the main group.  When I do let them finally roam together, I like to be home and present outside, so I can break up any fights that get particularly brutal.  Pecking is ok, as long as it's not prolonged, fighting is not.
Jake and Finn are keeping track of the goings-on with the new girls.

Matilda was curious about the iPhone! We had an impromptu photo shoot.  Check out that chicken-eye!

UPDATE: Day 2, Frick and Frack escaped from their pen as I was constructing their coop and left the door ajar.  And then escaped the fenced area.  Frick and Frack, and the Flowers are now roaming peacefully together in the yard.  We'll see if this continues!!


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