Please note that these instructions are given with the understanding that you have first followed proper quarantine procedures with your new chin to ensure the safety of you existing and new chins.
Introducing chins can be a very tricky business! Yet, chins really do better if they have a friend, so its an important business, and if you plan to breed, its one you need to get good at and be able to read the warning signs!
Introducing young chins is always easiest, but not always possible, since chins shouldn't be bred too young.
No matter what method of introduction you use, the best way to begin introductions is to have the chins in cages side by side for at least a couple of weeks. They need to be able to see and smell each other, but not able to hurt each other. During this time, I like to switch them every day between cages. So that they really get used to each other's smell. No matter which of the following methods you use, this should always be done first.
The following are a few different methods we have used with great success, though our favorite and most effective method is the "smoosh method".
The "Smoosh Method":
This is a method we heard about from several ranchers who breed in colonies and trios. After trying this method, its now the only one we use.
Once the chins have been side by side for about 2 weeks, put something smelly, like Vick's Vapo Rub (just a very tiny bit) on their noses and put all chins being introduced into one very small cage, like the size of a show cage. The one we use for introducing both pairs and trios is 5"x8"x8" tall. There should be enough room for movement, but so that to move, they have to climb over each other. Leave them in here for NO LONGER THEN 15 minutes.
Watch closely of course. Once the 15 minutes is up, put all chins into their new permanent cage with lots of places to hide and at least 1 dust bath. This is the method we have been using for over a year now and have yet to have an introduction fail.
Of all the methods we've used, this is the least stressful for the chins and the fastest method we have found.
Two Chins Being "Smooshed"
For Pet owners with only a few chins:
Once they've gotten used to seeing and smelling each other for a good long while, either let them out to play in a neutral area where there are lots of places to get away if needed, or in a neutral cage where there are places to hide if needed. Introductions are best when done during the chins' "sleepy" time, we usually do ours between 10am and noon.
It is also a good idea to put a dust bath in with them for the first little while, to help take their mind off of each other as well as help them to both smell the same.
Keep a very close eye on them. It is common for chins who first meet, even chins of the same sex, to "mount" each other. But, if any fur starts to fly, or blood is drawn, separate them and put them back into their own cages. And try again in a few days.
Understand that some chins can never successfully be introduced.
For the hobby breeder:
Here are the cages that we built for doing introductions. This is a whole unit of 2 side-by-side cages, and 2 introduction cages, with a drawer at the bottom for keeping all supplies.
This entire unit, including drawer stands 8' tall and is 2' wide.
We like introducing chins for the first time in a smaller cage then they will live in permanently so that if there is an argument, we can easily reach in and get them out.
We have also found that using these cages has significantly reduced the time it takes us to introduce most chins. We've had most introduced in 4 days using this method, as opposed to two weeks using the other method.
This is a close up of the side-by-side unit. You can see that there is a panel of double wire, with one inch space between the panels, between each side. This "forces" the chins to be in very close proximity without giving them the opportunity to hurt each other.
Each side is 1'x2'x18" high.
There is also a solid wooden divider attached to the tray at the bottom, so that chins can't reach under the divider to hurt each other.
The actually introduction cage is this size, without the divider in the middle and with a shelf in the back with a house on it (you can see this in the top and middle cages in the picture above). We also put a chimnea in the bottom of the cage so that there are two places for chins to hide if needed.
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