A flock of chickens is one thing that may change and evolve over time. Nature will take its course, and the permaculture gardener will intervene as effectively – harvesting birds, relocating chicks, and so forth. A gardener retaining a flock of chickens will even want to switch chickens to make sure a continued provide of eggs, as a chicken’s laying capability will diminish with age. Or they might determine that they actually love retaining chickens as livestock and look to increase their flock, maybe to allow them to enhance egg manufacturing to be able to arrange a stall on the native former’s market.
Nonetheless, introducing new birds to an current flock shouldn’t be merely a matter of releasing them into the coop or run, and letting them get on with it. Hen flocks do have a form of society, with hierarchies and territory. New birds might want to be taught the ‘pecking order’ and set up their place within the hierarchy of the flock. Each chicken within the flock has a place within the order of issues in relation to the opposite birds. This order is often strengthened over meals, with the senior chickens consuming first earlier than permitting the extra lowly birds on the meals. It’s thought that this can be a approach that has advanced over the centuries to cease the birds combating over meals, the exercise of which can have attracted predators to the flock. Once you want to introduce new chickens, there are a number of issues you are able to do to reduce the influence of the brand new arrivals on upsetting the pecking order.
It isn’t really helpful that you just introduce birds which can be at a special stage of their growth than the birds within the flock. So, you’d keep away from including chicks to a flock that’s comprised of mature layers, as an example. Not solely will the youthful birds be liable to damage and even demise from the aggression of the bigger animals, but in addition they are going to be at better danger of contracting infections, as they haven’t had the time to develop immunity.
Attempt to introduce birds which can be of the same dimension to these already within the flock. Even chickens of the identical age can vary in dimension from small bantams to massive fowl, and the smaller ones shall be much less in a position to get up for themselves within the pecking order.
It’s also a good suggestion to keep away from introducing a single animal into the flock at one time. This particular person would be the sole focus of the attentions of the established birds and might be marginalized and bullied. So all the time attempt to introduce at the least a pair of birds at anybody time. It’s even higher if the 2 or extra chickens that you’re including to the flock already know one another, maybe having grown up collectively or at the least come from the identical breeding flock.
Even when including two birds, it’s a good suggestion to make the introductions slowly. One of the best ways to do that is to arrange a short lived coop and run subsequent to that of the primary flock and preserve your new arrivals in it for something from a couple of days to a few weeks. The 2 teams will have the ability to see one another and get used to one another’s presence however are stored other than having really contact to keep away from bullying and accidents. For a pair f birds, you may use an previous crate as a short lived coop and arrange a run with hen wire subsequent to the primary run. This association permits for the acclimatization of the birds to 1 one other and in addition signifies that the established flock to not really feel threatened that their territory has been invaded in fairly the identical approach as if the brand new birds have been merely positioned in the primary coop from the outset. It additionally serves as a type of quarantine, with the intention to observe the brand new birds for any signal of illness earlier than letting them mingle along with your flock.
On condition that a lot of the institution and reinforcement of the flock’s hierarchy occurs round meals, ensure that there may be an abundance of meals sources for the flock. If meals is scarce, the extra senior chickens shall be extra aggressive in asserting their declare to it, which might be dangerous to newer chickens which can be decrease down the social scale. The identical goes for ingesting water.
Other than numerous meals and plentiful ingesting water, giving the flock as a lot house as attainable may assist stop conflicts with new arrivals. If attainable, permit the chickens to free vary in your permaculture plot. This offers the brand new birds the chance to run away if they’re bullied, but in addition signifies that the established birds have extra issues to occupy them – reminiscent of looking for bugs and scratching at beds – so turning their consideration from the brand new birds.
You possibly can support this distraction by including objects to the location, significantly within the coop the place the birds are in nearer proximity to 1 one other. Merely tying up shiny objects, reminiscent of previous CDs, offers the birds one thing to work together with, piquing their curiosity, and so occupying their consideration.
Present a number of locations the place a brand new chicken can conceal whether it is getting bullied. In case your flock is free ranging, the coop will typically present this retreat, however including issues like crates or logs to the coop and the location as a complete, affords shelter for these birds below assault.
If a chicken has been pecked and has a bleeding wound, take away the chicken instantly and preserve in a separate run till the wound has healed utterly. Chickens appear to like pecking at pink wounds and it has been recognized for a form of frenzy to return over a flock when one chicken shows such a mark, which may even result in the hen being pecked to demise. (That is way more of an issue in business hen farms, because the birds don’t have the house, distractions and hiding alternatives outlined above, however it’s nonetheless vital for the permaculture gardener to maintain a watch out for wounds on their birds.)