A flock of chickens is one thing that can change and evolve over time. Nature will take its course, and the permaculture gardener will intervene as properly – harvesting birds, relocating chicks, and so forth. A gardener maintaining a flock of chickens may even want to interchange chickens to make sure a continued provide of eggs, as a chook’s laying capability will diminish with age. Or they might determine that they actually love maintaining chickens as livestock and look to increase their flock, maybe to allow them to improve egg manufacturing in an effort to arrange a stall on the native former’s market.
Nonetheless, introducing new birds to an present flock just isn’t merely a matter of releasing them into the coop or run, and letting them get on with it. Hen flocks do have a type of society, with hierarchies and territory. New birds might want to study the ‘pecking order’ and set up their place within the hierarchy of the flock. Each chook 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 method that has developed over the centuries to cease the birds preventing over meals, the exercise of which can have attracted predators to the flock. Whenever you need to introduce new chickens, there are a number of issues you are able to do to attenuate the influence of the brand new arrivals on upsetting the pecking order.
It isn’t advisable that you just introduce birds which can be at a special stage of their improvement than the birds within the flock. So, you’d keep away from including chicks to a flock that’s comprised of mature layers, for example. Not solely will the youthful birds be prone to harm and even demise from the aggression of the bigger animals, but additionally they are going to be at larger danger of contracting infections, as they haven’t had the time to develop immunity.
Attempt to introduce birds which can be of the same measurement to these already within the flock. Even chickens of the identical age can vary in measurement from small bantams to giant fowl, and the smaller ones will probably be much less in a position to rise up for themselves within the pecking order.
Additionally it is 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 will be marginalized and bullied. So at all times attempt to introduce a minimum of 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 a minimum of come from the identical breeding flock.
Even when including two birds, it’s a good suggestion to make the introductions slowly. One of the simplest ways to do that is to arrange a short lived coop and run subsequent to that of the primary flock and maintain your new arrivals in it for something from just a few days to a few weeks. The 2 teams will be capable to see one another and get used to one another’s presence however are saved other than having really contact to keep away from bullying and accidents. For a pair f birds, you can use an outdated 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 at least one 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, so 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, be sure that there may be an abundance of meals sources for the flock. If meals is scarce, the extra senior chickens will probably be extra aggressive in asserting their declare to it, which will be dangerous to newer chickens which can be decrease down the social scale. The identical goes for ingesting water.
Apart from numerous meals and plentiful ingesting water, giving the flock as a lot house as doable also can assist forestall conflicts with new arrivals. If doable, enable 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 additionally signifies that the established birds have extra issues to occupy them – similar to trying to find bugs and scratching at beds – so turning their consideration from the brand new birds.
You possibly can support this distraction by including gadgets to the location, significantly within the coop the place the birds are in nearer proximity to at least one one other. Merely tying up shiny gadgets, similar to outdated CDs, provides 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 chook can cover 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 an entire, affords shelter for these birds underneath assault.
If a chook has been pecked and has a bleeding wound, take away the chook instantly and maintain in a separate run till the wound has healed fully. Chickens appear to like pecking at pink wounds and it has been identified for a type of frenzy to come back over a flock when one chook shows such a mark, which might even result in the hen being pecked to demise. (That is rather more of an issue in industrial hen farms, because the birds wouldn’t have the house, distractions and hiding alternatives outlined above, however it’s nonetheless necessary for the permaculture gardener to maintain a watch out for wounds on their birds.)