Cockerels and other pets
New hens will usually need to be kept separate from existing birds for at least a few weeks. Initially they may be unfit and may have poor self confidence which can lead to them being easily bullied. Most will regain their confidence within a few days and fitness usually improves within two weeks. If the hens can be kept so they can see your other hens at first, it will make final integration easier, but there will always be some squabbling as a new pecking order is established. We will be happy to discuss the merging process, or take a look at our hints on merging and establishing flocks.
The hens you take home will not know each other as they will have lived in different cages and some re-homers find the initial settling in period distressing to watch as a new hierarchy is established. If you have bullying problems when you get your hens home, here are a few tips to try:
- Smear Vaseline on the combs of the hens being bullied (this prevents beaks getting a grip)
- Hang up distractions for the birds, whole cabbages or corn on the cobs, just above head height (this will take focus away from the ‘low ranking hen’ in the flock
- Put several sources of food and water in the coop to ensure all the girls can eat and drink
It shouldn’t take them long to realise there are more fun things to do than squabble.
If you have a bully who does not allow the group to settle, refer to our information on vying for dominance to learn how to deal with bullies. The pecking order should generally settle over a two week period.
It is very important to keep the hens apart from cockerels for at least a month. The hens can easily be damaged by the cockerel’s advances as they are not strong enough to take his weight and their backs may be poorly feathered.
Your hens know no fear and will get along happily with most other family pets. However, you will need to be particlarly careful when introducing dogs; do not leave the hens unsupervised until you are satisfied your dog is hen friendly.« Previous Page