We got our Eglu & 2 girls nearly 2 years ago but sadly last week our Beryl died (she was never a well bird, stopped laying last July and we took the decision to end her suffering as she was on a steady decline since Christmas ). So, that left us with one hen, Matilda, our Gingernut ranger. Her and Beryl were great friends & lived in the Eglu, with large run area in our garden and occasional full free ranging around the garden too.
Separately, we had hoped to increase our flock and had already had a lovely new house & run put into the garden and were planning on moving our two girls in there. After Beryl died, we knew that Matilda would hate being alone so we decided to get new girlies sooner rather than later. We decided to get 5 hybrids and put them straight into the new hen house, leaving Matilda in her Eglu and to do some gradual introductions........
However, after reading a lot, listening to LOTS of people's advice etc. we decided that Matilda ought to be integrated sooner rather than later as we (wrongly) assumed that she would be bullied or picked on as she was a lone hen, especially if we left it for too long and allowed the new girls to establish their pecking order etc. So, on the first night, we put Matilda into the hen house in the dark and then I was around all the following day to observe and intervene if necessary. Unfortunately, it turns out that Matilda is quite a spectacular bully . Determined to put these young POL hens in their place, she systematically beat the you-know-what out of all of them, one by one. She has a particular dislike of our beautiful White Leghorn cross, Miss Flighty, who as you can imagine is a sleek, quick girl and fancies herself as Top Hen. In the end, out of sheer exhaustion and frustration, I have separated Matilda into an adjoining run and back with her Eglu (alone) because I couldn't leave the pen without her drawing blood (!) and generally being very stressed or stressing out the others. I've had to catch Miss Flighty twice and check her comb after a big chunk had been bitten off - cue the Violet spray and a now purple-patched-leghorn...
I considered myself a fairly experienced chicken keeper but with so little experience of introducing new birds, and after making my decisions based on others' advice, I feel like a total idiot and that I've let Matilda and the new girls down.
Does anyone have any advice on whether I am doing more harm than good in keeping Bully Matilda separate for now? They are able to see each other - there hasn't been any s"Ooops, word censored!"ping through the mesh fence - but I feel like all of them are a bit uneasy and I just want to work towards them being settled.
Apols for the stupidly long post - I hope I explained it all ok
Grateful for any advice,
PS - should add that Matilda was laying regulary but hasn't now laid for 3 days - all the newbies laid an egg today