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 conserving a flock of chickens can even want to switch chickens to make sure a continued provide of eggs, as a hen’s laying capability will diminish with age. Or they might resolve that they actually love conserving chickens as livestock and look to broaden their flock, maybe to allow them to improve egg manufacturing with a purpose 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. Rooster flocks do have a form 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 hen within the flock has a place within the order of issues in relation to the opposite birds. This order is often bolstered 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 preventing over meals, the exercise of which can have attracted predators to the flock. Whenever you wish 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 useful that you simply introduce birds which are at a unique stage of their improvement than the birds within the flock. So, you’ll keep away from including chicks to a flock that’s comprised of mature layers, as an illustration. Not solely will the youthful birds be prone to harm and even demise from the aggression of the bigger animals, but in addition they are going to be at higher danger of contracting infections, as they haven’t had the time to develop immunity.
Attempt to introduce birds which are of an analogous 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 can be much less in a position to get up for themselves within the pecking order.
It is usually 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 very least a pair of birds at anyone 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 very 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 brief coop and run subsequent to that of the principle flock and preserve your new arrivals in it for something from just a few 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 saved other than having really contact to keep away from bullying and accidents. For a pair f birds, you may use an outdated crate as a brief coop and arrange a run with rooster wire subsequent to the principle run. This association permits for the acclimatization of the birds to 1 one other and likewise implies 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 principle 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, guarantee that there’s an abundance of meals sources for the flock. If meals is scarce, the extra senior chickens can be extra aggressive in asserting their declare to it, which might be dangerous to newer chickens which are decrease down the social scale. The identical goes for consuming water.
Except for numerous meals and plentiful consuming water, giving the flock as a lot area as potential may also assist forestall conflicts with new arrivals. If potential, 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 in addition implies that the established birds have extra issues to occupy them – comparable 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 objects to the location, notably within the coop the place the birds are in nearer proximity to 1 one other. Merely tying up shiny objects, comparable to outdated 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 hen can conceal whether it is getting bullied. In case your flock is free ranging, the coop will usually present this retreat, however including issues like crates or logs to the coop and the location as a complete, presents shelter for these birds underneath assault.
If a hen has been pecked and has a bleeding wound, take away the hen instantly and preserve in a separate run till the wound has healed fully. Chickens appear to like pecking at purple wounds and it has been identified for a form of frenzy to come back over a flock when one hen shows such a mark, which might even result in the rooster being pecked to demise. (That is rather more of an issue in business rooster farms, because the birds wouldn’t have the area, distractions and hiding alternatives outlined above, however it’s nonetheless essential for the permaculture gardener to maintain an eye fixed out for wounds on their birds.)