Things have gotten complicated in the chicken yard. I brought eight baby chicks onto the farm last month, to replace the layers that were decimated by the fox. I had also added four young white hens that are now laying 3-4 white eggs a day.
You’d think all would be well now, with the three “babies” who survived the fox attack and their brother Prince Harry the rooster. However, the whole social structure within the flock has turned upside-down. At first, the white hens were terrified of the existing flock and dodged their beaks all day. Soon, the white ones took over and began terrorizing the four that were about a month behind them in age. They react strangely to me, though. When I walk into the run, they spread their shoulders and squat in front of me, like they do to show submission to a rooster. At first it was funny but now it’s getting to be kind of annoying.
As time moves on, the little rooster is beginning to gain some heft and is crowing more frequently. He doesn’t always run away from the whites anymore, and may have been flirting with old Arya the other morning because I heard a cackling scream and she came chasing him out of the hen house with angry flapping wings. Soon he will be too big to be pushed around.
I now have to begin integrating the youngest chicks into the flock to prepare for winter. In the past, I put the brood box on the floor of the run and opened the trap door that allows them to run in and out but is too small for the big chickens to enter. They gradually gain confidence and begin mingling with the flock, at least they did in the last two generations. That was before I had to confine them all to the run to save them from the free range predators.
Today, something creepy happened. I went out to say hello to the menagerie and spotted a bloody mess. One chick had gotten caught in a corner and the others pecked her to death. I’ll admit I was so horrified and angry that I yelled and kicked a couple of the white hens across the room. My aggression was so unusual they all ran into the coop to hide from me.
I will have to do some research to find out how and when to safely mix the babies with the adults. I suspect having them all confined contributed to their horrible behavior but I can’t keep them separated all winter. I have closed the trap door back up so the remaining babies are safe, but this situation has to be resolved. Any advice from my chicken buddies?