Introducing a New Chicken

We have all heard of the phrase “the pecking order”. Chickens establish a hierarchial order in their flock. This is thought to have evolved over many thousands of years in the jungle fowl of South East Asia. The pecking order allowed the flock to eat in turn and peacefully when food was available. If they were fighting at these times, they would be wasting their opportunity to eat and attracting attention to themselves from predators.

The pecking order is still well and truly with the hens of today and hens can be incredibly cruel to newcomers. If you are mixing hens that aren’t used to one another, you should make sure you are around to keep an eye open for trouble. The following points may help:

  • Place newcomers behind a fence or in a small run for a week so that they can get used to their new surroundings and get used to one another.
  • Introduce a new hen at night to the coop when it is dark. Place her amongst the other hens. They will not fight in the dark and it will give the others a chance to get used to the new smell.
  • If pecking takes place, leave them to get on with it as much as you can. They have to establish the new pecking order but…
  • If blood is drawn at any point, remove the hen and try again when the injury has healed. Chickens are attracted to red and will peck blood very quickly.
  • You may want to try removing the hen that is fighting with the newcomer to the flock for a little while until the new hen has settled into the flock, then put the trouble maker back in.

108 Responses to Introducing a New Chicken

  1. lisha jenkins says:

    I have trained my girls to return to their coop immediately by ringing a bell and it only took 3 days for them to learn!
    When they come out for their daily meander, I take a jug of mealworms previously soaked in boiled water and my bell with me, when I want them in I ring the bell and they literally run into the flight to await their reward.
    Last summer; while I was out with the girls at 1pm a fox came through my hedge! Luckily I saw it early enough to ring the bell and the girls went safely in while I chased the fox away.
    Teaching them this trick probably saved a few lives and certainly saves me having to chase them around to get them in. Bulk amounts of mealworms can be purchased from online auction sites and last for ages!

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