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 properly – harvesting birds, relocating chicks, and so forth. A gardener conserving a flock of chickens will even want to exchange chickens to make sure a continued provide of eggs, as a fowl’s laying capability will diminish with age. Or they could resolve that they actually love conserving chickens as livestock and look to broaden their flock, maybe to allow them to enhance egg manufacturing in an effort to arrange a stall on the native former’s market.
Nonetheless, introducing new birds to an current flock 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 fowl within the flock has a place within the order of issues in relation to the opposite birds. This order is usually 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. While you want to introduce new chickens, there are a number of issues you are able to do to attenuate the impression of the brand new arrivals on upsetting the pecking order.
It’s not really useful that you simply introduce birds which are 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 vulnerable to damage and even dying 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 the same 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 can be much less capable of get 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 all the time 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. The easiest way 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 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 saved aside from having truly contact to keep away from bullying and accidents. For a pair f birds, you possibly can use an outdated crate as a brief coop and arrange a run with hen wire subsequent to the principle run. This association permits for the acclimatization of the birds to 1 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 means as if the brand new birds had been merely positioned in the principle coop from the outset. It additionally serves as a type of quarantine, to be able to observe the brand new birds for any signal of illness earlier than letting them mingle together with your flock.
Provided 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 will be dangerous to newer chickens which are decrease down the social scale. The identical goes for ingesting water.
Except for a number of meals and plentiful ingesting water, giving the flock as a lot area as doable may assist forestall conflicts with new arrivals. If doable, 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 – akin to trying to find bugs and scratching at beds – so turning their consideration from the brand new birds.
You may support this distraction by including gadgets to the location, notably within the coop the place the birds are in nearer proximity to 1 one other. Merely tying up shiny gadgets, akin 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 fowl 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 an entire, presents shelter for these birds underneath assault.
If a fowl has been pecked and has a bleeding wound, take away the fowl instantly and preserve in a separate run till the wound has healed fully. 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 fowl shows such a mark, which might even result in the hen being pecked to dying. (That is rather more of an issue in business hen farms, because the birds don’t have the area, distractions and hiding alternatives outlined above, however it’s nonetheless vital for the permaculture gardener to maintain an eye fixed out for wounds on their birds.)