Hens will usually need to be kept separate from your existing hens for a short period; please ask our advice on this. Some hens may be a little underweight and lack confidence when they first come out of the farm, while others are spirited and think they rule the roost from day one! It is also sensible to quarantine your new birds initially for up to two weeks. This will make final integration easier though there will always be some squabbling as a new pecking order is established.
We always advise you adopt a greater number of hens than you currently keep, so if you already have three hens, make sure you adopt at least four new ones, which gives the incoming hens advantage in numbers over those who are already familiar with your routine.
You may find the initial settling in period distressing as the hierarchy of the group is re-established. This can involve pecking, chasing, squawking, bullying, guarding of food and water sources. If you have problems, there are a few things you could try:
• Smear Vaseline on the combs of the bullied hens; the bullies will not be able to get a grip
• Put several sources of food and water in the pen to ensure they all can eat and drink
• Hang up distractions: shiny CDs, half cabbages or corn on the cobs, just above head height
• Give them space so the lowest ranking hen can stay out of trouble
It won’t take them long to realise there is more to life than squabbling. If you have ongoing bullying problems read our advice on merging and establishing a new flock or call us on 01884 860084. Please note: hens need keeping apart from cockerels for at least a month; the girls can easily be damaged as they may have weak legs and bald backs when first out of the farm.