Mixing Species

Question:

Mixing Species: We have what we believe is a Catalana hen. A friend is looking for a home for an Araucana hen.

Our Catalana has been our only chicken for about a year (her rooster mate was killed, before that, we had them both for about 7 months).

Do you think the Araucana and the Catalana will get along? Our hen is fairly small, maybe 12" tall. We have not yet seen the Araucana hen. Would its size also matter?

Also, how long should we separate them at first? They are both at least of egg-laying age.

Answer:
Domestic chickens are the same species: "Gallus". It sounds like you are concerned about two different breeds getting along.

I've kept mixed flocks for many years and other than a few posturing gestures, when new chickens are introduced, they all live happily together in a large run, free ranging and in the coop.

Groups that were raised together usually keep their bonds and seem to get along best with each other. The good news is you are thinking of just introducing two chickens, rather than one new one to a flock.

One problem you might see is a hen that has been living solo may have few social skills for getting along with another chicken, at first.

Also, chickens are territorial and yours may see the new comer as an invader of her space and not be happy about it.

There is size variation in each breed, but both these hens are probably a standard laying size.

Some hens are more dominant and your existing hen might feel the need to protect her territory and feel more comfortable and confident in her space. The new hen will feel disoriented and uncertain, until she adapts to her new home.

I'm not sure how your set up is, but I would suggest letting your Catalana out in the morning, as usual, a lock her out of the coop.

I would lock the new hen in the coop for most of the day, as you want her to know where she is supposed to sleep.

With a few hours of day light left I would open the coop and allow the new hen to exit to an enclosed yard and explore and meet her new friend. Then watch and see what happens.

If they fly at each other like roosters don't get concerned, just let it play out, unless one is harming the other, as in ripping out feathers or drawing blood.

I would scatter some treats of possibly scratch grains, greens or chopped fruit to take their attentions off each other and allow them to eat together.

I would just keep an eye on them, making sure there is no cornering and bullying in the coop. You may need to catch the new hen and put her in the coop for the night, if she doesn't figure out how to get back in.

As long as they have enough room to stay away from each other, until they adjust and if they want, there should be no problems. If it doesn't work out, your friend will probably be willing to take the Aracauna back.

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