My wife thought this article was about getting romantic but it's not that at all!
I often get phone calls about new birds being bullied, getting feathers pulled and even the other birds drawing blood.
This can be a real problem, especially in smaller backyard flocks, but I can offer some suggestions to mitigate the problems that arise.
Remember here that I'm discussing pullets and hens.
Roosters will establish themselves quickly and cockerels over time.
When introducing new birds it is best if you can introduce two rather than a single younger bird into an established flock.
Pecking orders are very set in smaller flocks and the new bird will always be at the bottom of the line.
Often you will be replacing older birds and this can help with establishing a new pecking order but distributing the bullying is better than the focus being on one bird.
Try and make the new pair the same age.
Birds don't have to be the same breed, but size does count in these interactions so try and ensure the new birds aren't too disadvantaged.
If your flock are all of disparate breeds and have grown together this won't be a problem.
The best method I have found is to put the birds into the pens and introduce them to the flock at roosting time.
This means the birds see each other and then basically wake up together.
Chooks aren't all that smart and they think this is how it's always been.
There will be some interactions as they sort each other out but this method minimises this.
Again here two birds are better than one.
Often people change the whole flock as birds get old but this isn't always practical as you can't just knock off the kids' pet.
Introducing new birds will freshen the flock as older birds fall away and the older unproductive birds can live out their lives being covered by the young ones.
Just doing these simple things will make introducing new birds to the flock much easier and make your life a little easier.
- Bruce Pattinson is a past president of the NSW Exhibition Poultry Association. Email questions to email@example.com or post to: Chook Feed, PO Box 25, Kogarah, 2217, with your name and daytime contact number.