hens from flock to flock is generally a bad idea, but I’ve been doing
lots of it this year. The trouble is that the varieties I picked
out to try last spring aren’t very compatible with each other, so hens
keep getting annoyed with the main flock and deciding to live in the
garden instead. Then there’s the white hen who got attacked by a hawk
and needed some alone time to allow her wounds to heal in peace.
To cut a long story short, we came into 2014 with two hens in the chicken tractor and two hens in our chick coop, in addition to our main flock.
Since I like the egg-laying abilities of our Red Stars,
even though they seem to be too submissive to handle our main flock, I
tried to move the two tractored Red Stars back in with the rooster in
early February so they could mother some of our hatching eggs.
That was a mistake. One of the hens did eventually find her inner
mean girl and make a place for herself among the Australorps and Leghorns,
but the other Star pushed her way through the dog door and begged to be
put back in the tractor. I’m a softie, so I obliged.
About this point, I
noticed that the wounded Leghorn was all healed up, so I decided she and
her coop buddy (an Australorp who wanted to find a spot to be
broody…in the garden) could reenter society. Once again, there
was a bit of grumpiness as the pecking order was reestablished…and the
broody Australorp fled back within our fenced garden. Luckily,
there was an opening in the chicken tractor by then since one of the Red
Stars had been
successfully reintegrated into the flock, so the Australorp was able to
be penned back up (even though she was less than thrilled to have two
new flockmates to contend with).
What’s the moral of this long, winding story? First of all, it is
possible to reintegrate separated hens into a main flock, but there
will be a lot of drama involved, and your efforts may fail.
Second, it’s worth researching the dominance levels of different
varieties before trying to create a mixed flock — sticking to one
variety is the more sure way to chicken simplicity. And, finally,
it’s awfully handy to have at least one spare coop or tractor on hand to
house hens who are ostracized for one reason or another.
Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes so you don’t have to repeat