Lesson 761 – Violet meets the flock – step 1

The time has come. The weather has turned to the more reasonable temperatures of spring and Violet finally has enough feathers to get her through the cool (but not cold) nights. We have been putting Violet out in a “playpen” (a children’s moveable pen that I had gotten at a yard sale) while the rest of the flock was outside during the day, but we were always careful to keep her separated from any interaction with the rest of the flock.

The hens were curious but there was no aggressive behavior toward her. A good sign, I thought.

Today is the day we incorporate Violet into the flock. This will be done in a series of steps. The first step will be to put her entire cage in the hen house for a few days. This will ensure she is protected while everyone gets to know her during the night and day.

After the girls have gotten a chance to know how it is to live with her in their midst, we will let Violet mingle with the flock (while being supervised) to make sure that no one in particular picks too much on her. It’s a bit tricky because Violet is the only chick being introduced and there is the high probability that everyone will be tempted to put her in her place. I’ve seen the damage that excessive pecking can do, and let’s just say it’s not a pretty sight.

But our Violet is quite hardy and I’m sure she’ll pull her own weight. I’m also kind of hoping that Charlie will lend a hand toward her protection. The two of them have been together in the past (in the living room) and Charlie has shown no desire to peck at Violet – perhaps at some level they might recognize that they are sisters? This mama hen can only hope.

This is the procedure we used to introduce our Guineas to the flock when we first got them and after a few days of shooing the bossier of the hens away from the new arrivals, things settled down just fine.

I’m hoping that it will be just as non-eventful with Violet.

Well that didn't take long.

Well that didn’t take long.

***
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two. 

9 Comments

Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, Charlie, Life Lessons, Personal, The Family, Uncategorized

9 responses to “Lesson 761 – Violet meets the flock – step 1

  1. How old is Violet? We have three that we have to incorporate, they are almost seven weeks old.

    • Wendy Thomas

      Violet is just over 5 weeks, but she is a larger bird and has all of her feathers. I’m not worried about her.

      If yours are 7 weeks old, then I’d venture to say this weekend will be eventful as you move them out to the flock. When we introduced several chicks at once, I’ve created a safe spot in the coop with an opening large enough for the chicks to enter but too small for the adults to get through. In this protected area I kept food and water. It was just a way to make sure the chicks had a safe place to retreat to if they needed it.

      Let me know how it goes when you move your chicks out.

      Wendy

  2. Thursa

    I recall learning that 8 weeks of age, no more and no less, is perfect timing to put newbies in with the flock late after they have roosted. I obtained three 10 week olds, and two seem to have done okay with the flock ignoring them for now. One seems to be the most timid hen I have ever seen, so I have a large pet crate for her sitting right in the middle of the action. I am hoping she will grow up to be less timid as I prefer to have my flock together and let them roam free when we are around to keep stray dogs at bay. I also obtained one small sized about 2 year old hen that went and roosted with the ‘in crowd’ as soon as I set her down on the coop floor. She seems to have taken to the flock okay but again I put her in after all others had settled on their roosts for the night.

    • Wendy Thomas

      I think that there are as many ways to introduce chicks as there are chicken owners. When I teach my classes, I tend to favor putting chicks into the flock around 5-6 weeks old BUT (and that’s a large but) it depends on the breed (some feather faster than others, some are larger than others, etc), on the local weather, and on the bird’s temperament.

      Like you, I’ve also had very timid birds (one we even dubbed a “chicken chicken” she would only settle down if we picked her up in our arms and stroked her until she was calm) we had to be very careful with that one.

      If I had had several chicks with Violet, I think things might have been easier, but I wanted her to start knowing how to be a chicken (as opposed to how to be a dog which is what she has imprinted herself upon in our house) sooner rather than later. For now, she’s in the cage, if I suspect any difficulties, she will be taken out and retried into the flock at a later date.

      We’re not in a hurry, the priority is to do it as safely as I can for Violet – it will take as long as it takes.

      Wendy

      • Lisa Baldwin

        Hi Wendy,
        I have 6 one year old hens, 1 Black Barred Rock, 1 Buff Orpington and 4 Americana’s. I have 4 more(7weeks old), 1 Black Barred Rock and 3 Buff Orpingtons that I need to get into the coop. Currently they reside in my bath tub! I have been taking them out in the yard with the other girls, while they are in a protected space and my big girls don’t really have much interest in them. I have to integrate them into the coop this weekend. Our weather here in Colorado is in the mid to upper 30’s at night now. Are the younger girls ready to go to the coop? This is my first time to have to integrate new ones into the coop! Can you tell I am a little nervous? I have to leave town on the 14th so I need to get them in and make sure everyone is good. Is it safe to do this sooner than the weekend?
        Help!!

      • Wendy Thomas

        All of the breeds you have mentioned are good hardy birds (as opposed to bantams and exotics) that shouldn’t have trouble transitioning to a flock, even in cooler temps. Check under their wings, if the baby down is gone, I’d say they are ready (but at 7 weeks for those breeds, I’d say they’ve been cooked enough.)

        A commenter above suggests you introduce the new birds at night. I tend to do it gradually in a cage and then with a protected area where the chicks can go to get away. There are several ways to introduce new flock members.

        What you need to remember is that the old chickens will peck. It’s called a pecking order for a reason, they need to show the youngsters who is boss. Only interfere if a chick gets injured (be careful of eye pecks.) Otherwise the sooner, you let the flock settle down, the sooner they will settle down.

        Good luck,

        Wendy

      • Lisa Baldwin

        Thanks Wendy, I think I will try to get them in the run with protection today and see how it goes. I appreciate the advice and will try everything!

  3. Min

    I’ve had success sneaking new girls into the coop at night when the old girls are asleep. When they wake up, it’s like it’s always been that way. Thankfully, chickens have short memories and sharing sleeping quarters apparently gets them used to each other quickly. Of course, we monitor wake up time to make sure nobody is tortured, but we’ve done this several times and it’s always been painless. We use this trick when reintroducing a recovering sick chicken as well.

    • Wendy Thomas

      I’ve actually heard of several chicken owners who have done this with great success. When I do release Violet into the flock, I might just do it late at night. Thanks for your input.

      Wendy

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