Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Two Tribes, No Bloodshed

Tribe CeeCee
Tribe Deb

I'm very excited about this post.  Well, not excited, but pleased!  My dear husband knows what an animal lover I am.  He has also put a moratorium on any more animals joining our family.  He has been long-suffering and tolerant for the most part when any new critter appears at our house.  That is why I was astounded when he told me that a friend of a friend of his was looking for a babysitter for their two chickens. They spend the summer in Utah.  I was convinced that aliens had stolen my husband and left another man in his place.  I think he secretly thinks it's cool to tell his executive friends that, "Yea, my wife has chickens.  She even does the rooster's toenails."   So it must be that he thought, 'what's a couple more chickens?'

The thing is, it's not that simple.  You don't just add two more chickens to your current flock.  There are a multiplicity of reasons, but bloodshed and disease are the primary ones.  The words Pecking Order were hatched (no pun intended) in chicken flocks.  Someone has to be low chicken on the totem pole.  Adding new chickens stirs things up and the totem pole has to be reassembled.  Just dumping new chickens in with the old ones ensures enormous bloodshed---usually on the part of the new chickens.  

Tribe Deb, as I call the new chickens are just babies--not yet a year old.  They are a Black Australorp (Glitter) and a Barred Rock (Gertrude). Guess which one Deb's kids got to name. :) For several days they were by themselves so I could watch for diseases.  After that, I jury-rigged a pen within a pen so the two tribes could see each other, but not have all out war. It's what the folks at call a "Meet and Greet".  
Some folks like the idea of introducing new chickens by putting the new ones in with the old ones after dark. There's a theory that says if they wake up together, they won't know anything has changed. For many people this way works, but I wasn't so sure.  My chickens are up and around in their coop before it's fully light outside.  During the summer, I am not up and around before it's fully light outside.  That would mean Tribe Deb would be trapped in the chicken coop with Tribe CeeCee with no one there to referee.  Wouldn't risk it.
After a week of being able to see each other, I took a special snack out this morning and let all the chickens into the big chicken run.  Another theory is that special snacks will take their minds off new chickens.  There were a few tussles and a bit of chasing, but no blood was shed.  Hooray!  The two tribes are staying well away from one another at this point. I've put out two buckets of water and two buckets of feed.  One of my books suggested that the old chickens would run the new ones off food and water if there was only one set available.  Thankfully, I have a very large chicken run so that can't happen.  I will be there tonight for bedtime.  The roosting situation will have to watched very closely.  Mine, after 3 years, still fuss at one another about who is sleeping on the "top bunk".  

I've learned and successfully integrated one flock with another.  Small potatoes for most folks.  It won't bring about world peace, but it will make my life, and the life of the new chickens a bit easier.  I think Tribe Deb was a bit embarrassed about the Beverly Hillbilly look of their jury-rigged pen anyway.  Chickens are very sensitive to such things. :)


  1. Oh my! How nerve racking because they're not even your own chickens you've been integrating.
    But it sounds like you are the authority to refer to when chicken integration is about to happen.

    We'll be integrating our new silky and polish chicks in the very near future and I'm getting nervous about it, because I have several bossy hens and because the silkies are so sweet, small and timid, and the polish have those big puffy feathery heads that might look like fun for my big hens to play with! Yikes!

    I think I'll try your coop-within-a-coop idea so they can have their meet-and-greet and see how they all react. I am truly curious, that's for sure.

    Oh! And I just had to add, "Yay, hubby!!" I am flabbergasted that he encouraged you to bring any other living creature onto your farm. Wow!

    Every time you post on my blog, that is the first thing you mention that your hubby won't let you have anymore critters.

    I've been wanting to tell you that my hubby has asked me nicely to also curtail the adding of any more critters, too.....well except for if we happen to find a really good deal on an alpaca or two. haha!
    He really likes the idea of alpacas. :)

    But no more goats, sheep, chickens, llamas, horses, basically anything with hair or fur (wait till he finds out we've been feeding Jones's new friend. hehehe)
    Jones showed up with a new friend last week and my daughter named him "Cheddar" after her favorite snack, "Cheddar Bunnies" Jones's new friend is an orange tiger cat.

    I'll have to convince hubby that another mouser around the ranch is a good thing! hahahaha!

  2. I certainly wouldn't say I'm an authority. The chickens are still in two very distinct tribes. When they cross one another's paths, there are scuffles. Luckily it is short lived and no one bleeds.
    Be aware that it's very possible that your Polish chicken has a hole in it's skull. For some reason, those "hat" breed chickens often have a hole under the hat. Their skulls never fully fuse?? Makes getting pecked on the head a rough time.

    Yea for Jenna and Cheddar! I hope Cheddar is a boy kitty or you'll have more barn kitties very soon. :) Will Moon Pie share Jones with Cheddar?

  3. Gee, CeeCee, you are truly the chicken master! Taming your roo and integrating flocks - I am so impressed. You've certainly got the knack!

    What is it about husbands curtailing our animal love? Mine, too, has less than subtly suggested that, with 12 chickens, 6 donkeys, 1 pup, and 1 rabbit, that we "have enough now, right"?!

  4. haha Ceecee! I truly think that Jenna is an Animal Magnet. Animals just always seem to flock to her.

    Cheddar, ~aka~Butter, ~aka~ Mac & Cheese....shortened to most defintely a boy. haha
    I'm impressed with how well both he and Jones get along.
    Though we did notice alot of bite and scar marks on poor 'Mac'.
    I'll be posting photos of him soon. He's really come along way from that skittish cat he was the first few days we noticed him skulking around.

    As for Moon Pie, he has a new love: Latte. Since they both have Nigie blood, they seem to be kindred spirits.