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 holding a flock of chickens may also want to interchange chickens to make sure a continued provide of eggs, as a chicken’s laying capability will diminish with age. Or they could determine that they actually love holding chickens as livestock and look to broaden their flock, maybe to allow them to enhance egg manufacturing with the intention to arrange a stall on the native former’s market.
Nonetheless, introducing new birds to an present flock will not be merely a matter of releasing them into the coop or run, and letting them get on with it. Rooster flocks do have a kind 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. Whenever 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’s not really helpful that you just introduce birds which might be at a distinct 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, for example. Not solely will the youthful birds be prone to harm and even loss of life 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 might be of an analogous dimension to these already within the flock. Even chickens of the identical age can vary in dimension from small bantams to giant fowl, and the smaller ones will probably be much less capable of 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 not less than 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 not less than 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 brief coop and run subsequent to that of the primary flock and preserve your new arrivals in it for something from a number of 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 stored aside from having truly contact to keep away from bullying and accidents. For a pair f birds, you would use an outdated crate as a brief 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 implies that the established flock to not really feel threatened that their territory has been invaded in fairly the identical manner 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 together 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 will probably be extra aggressive in asserting their declare to it, which will be dangerous to newer chickens which might be decrease down the social scale. The identical goes for consuming water.
Apart from a lot of meals and plentiful consuming 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 implies that the established birds have extra issues to occupy them – equivalent to looking for bugs and scratching at beds – so turning their consideration from the brand new birds.
You’ll be able to assist this distraction by including objects to the positioning, notably within the coop the place the birds are in nearer proximity to at least one one other. Merely tying up shiny objects, equivalent 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 chicken can disguise 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 positioning as an entire, affords shelter for these birds beneath 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 fully. Chickens appear to like pecking at purple wounds and it has been identified for a kind of frenzy to return over a flock when one chicken shows such a mark, which may even result in the hen being pecked to loss of life. (That is way more of an issue in industrial hen farms, because the birds would not 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.)