Why do Chickens Attack New Chickens?

Chickens can coexist peacefully after getting used to each other. However, new flock members are subject to bullying by old flock members.

Many factors can prompt your chickens to fight new chickens. For example, your chickens could start fighting off new arrivals due to pecking order or breed behavior.

3 Reasons Chickens Attack New Chickens

Every chicken keeper doesn’t expect bullying to occur in their chicken flock. After all, chickens are some of the gentlest domestic birds. Although chickens are lovely and peaceful birds, they can be feisty sometimes, particularly with other chickens.

No wonder you will notice your chickens attacking new chickens once you introduce new birds to your flock. Bullying in chickens can be extreme, leading to severe injuries and sometimes death.

It would be prudent to know why your chickens are attacking new chickens. Let’s see some of the reasons that make chickens fight off new chickens.

– Pecking Order

Like other bird species, Chickens have a distinct social structure based on dominance. Older chickens usually come up with a pecking order to declare superiority, especially over new chickens and younger chickens in the flock. Your chickens will probably attack new chickens as they strive to establish dominance. Many things determine the pecking order among chickens.

Some of the things that determine pecking order include strength, personality, and age of the chicken. New chickens can’t establish a pecking order over the old chickens in the flock.

When a chicken wants to assert itself in the existing pecking order, it will demand dominance over other chickens. The chicken starts attacking new arrivals in your chicken flock to prove to the new chickens that it is indeed the most superior chicken in the flock.

Fighting due to pecking order usually occurs when new chickens arrive in the coop. If you notice your chickens are fighting the new arrivals, you will likely assume the chickens are bullying the new birds.

However, the chickens aren’t necessarily fighting the new flock members. It is because the old chickens in your flock are trying to establish a pecking order to achieve a high ranking in the coop.

Once the old chickens gain a higher ranking over the newcomers, they will stop attacking the new arrivals. There will be no more fights in the coop since each chicken will have its place. However, if the chickens keep attacking the new chickens for a prolonged period leading to bloodshed, you will be handling a scenario that needs immediate intervention.

– Risk of Disease

Chicken people fear diseases and fight other chickens they suspect could be carrying diseases. Some chickens hate new arrivals since they deem them potential disease carriers, mainly if the new chickens exhibit illnesses. They will fight such new chickens since the new arrivals are unwanted. They don’t want new members to infect them and their offspring with diseases.

When you notice your chickens are bullying the new arrivals, it doesn’t imply your birds are aggressive towards the new members. They want to weed out the newcomers, especially if they feel the new arrivals carry diseases.

The risk of infection is also a stressing factor among chickens. Therefore, your chicken will be hostile towards new chickens if the newcomers act as if they carry some diseases.

– Breed Behavior

Some chicken breeds are just aggressive, the same way some chickens are good foragers, layers, or meat producers. These aggressive chicken breeds won’t hesitate to bully other chickens, particularly new chickens.

Species such as Indian Game, Sumatra, and Faverolles are pretty aggressive. These chickens won’t tolerate having other chicken breeds around.

Some of these chicken species are naturally aggressive, and they will never be friendly to other chickens. Introducing new chickens to aggressive breeds can be disastrous, mainly if the new arrivals are docile and friendly.

In extreme cases, aggressive breeds can fight the new chickens to death or leave the newcomers with severe injuries. Thus, avoid putting the new chickens in the coop if there are already some aggressive birds in the coop.

How to Introduce New Chickens to the Flock?

Introducing new birds to an existing flock can be risky since you can’t determine whether the older flock members will attack the new birds. Furthermore, the new birds could find it difficult to coexist peacefully with the senior members.

Fortunately, you can introduce new chickens to your existing flock without exposing them to bullying by senior flock members. Check these ideas on how you can introduce new chickens to your flock.

– Keep New Chickens Separately

There is a probability that your chickens will attack the new chickens you are adding to your existing flock. Therefore, please don’t risk the lives of your new chickens by introducing them to a hostile chicken flock. There will be constant fights in the coop, and the newcomers will be the biggest casualties.

That said, keep the new chickens separately to save them from bullying and endless attacks from older birds. Even if your existing flock comprises friendly chickens, one or two chickens in the coop will probably attack the new birds as they establish a pecking order.

Furthermore, adding new birds to the flock will overcrowd the coop, prompting the chickens to start fighting while competing for space, water, and food. Therefore, have another coop before bringing in new chickens.

– Introduce New Chickens Gradually

If you choose to introduce new chickens to your flock at once, your existing flock will notice the arrival of the new birds. Consequently, they will react by attacking the new birds rather than welcoming them. But if you introduce the chickens gradually, other chickens won’t notice the new arrivals, mainly if you add only a couple of chickens to the flock.

Therefore, introduce new chickens gradually to give the older birds time to know and interact with the new members. If you want to add ten chickens, you can first introduce three or four birds and then gradually add more chickens. The best time to add new birds is at night since the old flock members won’t notice the presence of the new birds.

– Provide Some Distraction

You can add some items such as lettuce or bales of hay to the coop to distract your chickens from attacking the new chickens. Your chickens will concentrate on distracting things instead of the new flock members.

The old flock members’ attention will shift to pecking at the lettuce and scratching on the hay other than attacking the new arrivals. The more you distract your chickens, the more they will be too busy to notice and attack the new flock members.

Some people also use play toys for chickens to distract their flock. Whatever you use to distract your birds, ensure it is interesting for your birds.

– Provide Extra Food and Treats

Food scarcity can make chickens compete against each other for food. New flock members will face the wrath of old members if there is food scarcity in the coop. Therefore, ensure your existing flock has enough food before bringing new birds into the coop.

Furthermore, provide extra food and treats to your birds after introducing the new birds. Additional food and treats will keep your birds happy, and they won’t have a reason to fight each other. The chickens will live peacefully as they enjoy their favorite foods and treats.

– Monitor Your Flock

Although the old flock members might stop fighting the new arrivals after sometime, fighting may reoccur in the coop since there will always be one or two aggressive chickens in the flock.

Therefore, keep monitoring your flock and identify the aggressive members attacking other chickens. Separate the aggressive birds from the flock to end the endless fights in the coop.

Conclusion

Chickens will always attack new chickens as they strive to exert their dominance. However, coop fights can be nasty and lead to injuries and deaths.

Therefore, you need to pay attention to introducing new birds to your flock without exposing them to bullying by old flock members. Most importantly, ensure your chicks coexist peacefully with each other.

Chickens   Updated: March 24, 2022
avatar Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too.

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