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Adding to the flock

PUBLISHED: 10:31 13 September 2012

We have recently bought three chickens, and they have a large barn to themselves. We had them for two weeks and then bought another. They had just started laying and are French Marans. Last week we bought a blue point of lay chicken and put her in the barn with them. They will not have her at all and have attacked her, making her bleed. We have separated her, but obviously want them to live together. Any suggestions, or is there anything we can put on her to stop them attacking her?

Terry Beebe says:

I can easily understand the problem you are having. What has happened is that the first three birds have developed there own pecking order (this is another way of describing who is the boss). You have then introduced a stranger into the pen, and this has developed into a bad case of bullying.

It is essential that you introduce the new bird into the coop late at night, after it has gone dark, but I also prefer to introduce more than one bird as can make it easier for the others to accept the newcomers; it also helps to even the odds slightly.

My main concern is the fact they have caused injury and blood. You must keep the injured bird on its own until it fully heals.

Chickens were originally meat eaters, and it does not take long for them seriously injure another bird once they get the taste for blood.

Once the bird has fully healed, it can then be put back into the pen. It is very rare for them not to accept the newcomers, even though there may be a few squabbles. There are certain cases where this does not happen. In this case, they have to be removed permanently for their own safety.

As regards the pecking, use a normal antiseptic cream - the same type you would use on a personal injury.

It is also a good idea to use a recommended animal anti-peck spray to help to prevent further attacks in the future. The sprays are available from most poultry supply companies, many of which advertise in this magazine.

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