We had two chickens and decided to get three more off our neighbour, who was selling her small flock. My old chickens keep hiding away from my new ones, which keep pecking and trying to fight them. We aren’t sure what to do.

Jeremy Hobson says:

Problems with introducing new chickens to an existing flock just has to be one of the most commonly-asked questions we receive. It is always a worry to see any birds being bullied by one another, but it’s all down to that age-old thing of establishing a pecking order and hierarchy.

In most flocks there is usually a dominant matriarch who instigates ‘trouble’. If the new stock is introduced carefully (ideally by initially penning them close to the others but separated by wire netting or, failing that, putting them on the perch with the others as dusk falls), there is plenty of space and enough room for them all to eat and drink without having to force their way into the feeder with the others. Distractions are always good – a dust-bath will keep birds entertained and their minds occupied by something other than investigating one another too closely. Greenstuffs from the vegetable garden or even a few tree branches in the run will also prove a suitable distraction (and an extra hiding place for your old birds until they all get used to one another). Arguably, though, sufficient space is generally the answer…

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