In June 2007 we lost Henrietta and Yoko in quick succession. Penny and Chelle seemed a bit lost on their own, and we didn’t want them to lose interest in life, and felt that it wouldn’t harm anyone to have a few more hens in the household, so we returned to the same farm from which came the original four, and bought another four. They weighed around a kilo each. Compared to the mature hens, these new ones were skinny, small and babyish, and almost fragile. No doubt they were peace-loving creatures.
Chelle and Penny in particular left us terribly disappointed because they did not welcome the new hens at all; instead they were positively hostile to the newbies. Each of the four arrived with innocence intact and after a month had developed the attitude associated with adolescents. The first two nights were fraught with nervous uncertainty and undisclosed terror. Penny demonstrated a resentful strop of a hen high on indignation and pecked and bullied all of the new ones relentlessly.
On the third day we kept Penny and Chelle outside the enclosure for a whole week, giving them the caravan to sleep in, while the four new hens remained within the enclosure with the henhouse to sleep in. This seemed to do the trick, and after a week, we took down the barriers and allowed both parties to mix. There were about another four weeks of ducking and diving for survival by the young hens who, by now, had established themselves as faithful layers, and were able to hold up their heads proudly as having a legitimate claim to the garden.
Now, eight weeks since their arrival, there is peace in the camp once more, with a surprise “top hen” from the four, and a killer instinct demonstrated in daylight.