Use caution when adding new chickens to your established flock
In the article “Introducing new chickens to the flock” I made a few suggestions as to how to make the introduction go a bit easier when adding new chickens. There was something I missed; making sure your fencing is safe for the new chicks.
I woke up this morning to find the new Blue Cochin chicken caught in the fencing and the aggressive Gold Laced Wyandotte must have gotten to him. She is at the top of the pecking order and chases and pecks the new chickens to let them know. Somehow the Cochin got caught between the fencing and the hardware cloth on the outside and was trapped with his head inside the pen. She pecked his entire head and neck clean from feathers and skin! Poor thing was lifeless when I found it and put him out of his misery. I was so mad I was tempted to volunteer the Wyandotte for the inaugural testing of my chicken plucker…
Although I am really irritated with the hen, I know pecking is natures way of establishing the hierarchy of the flock. The Cochin just happened to be in a position where it could not escape. When I took a look at the area it was trapped in I discovered the fence and hardware cloth was separated there. It is at the very end of the fence where it attaches to the coop. Evidently, I had not placed a wire tie there when I installed the hardware cloth so the two ends were not secured together. The Cochin evidently forced its way between the fencing and was trapped.
Even if the Wyandotte hadn’t pecked it nearly to death, it may have died there if I hadn’t done the daily check. It is extremely hot today and it was trapped in the direct sunlight. I am sure it would have died from dehydration.
WARNING The following pictures are a bit gruesome so if you are squeamish you may not want to look.I am including them so if you find one of your chickens with the top off its head torn off you can compare the pictures.
Adding new chickens to the flock upsets the pecking order and a new one has to be established. Be aware that even though you try to make the transition as easy and painless as possible, this stuff happens. Losing birds is hard, losing one because it couldn’t avoid getting pecked for a few more days until an order is established is even harder.
Be sure to check your fencing before introducing your new birds to avoid this happening to one of your chickens.
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