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re-introducing scarred hen

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

hi :) been using this website forever but this is my first post so i'm sorry if this is posted elsewhere, and I would *so* love to hear from other people experiences with this.

I have a mixed bag flock of four birds-I don't know the two bigger girls breeds but they're pretty and about 4lbs each, a silician buttercup bantam hen about 1.5lb, and a 20lb jersey giant rooster.. who was supposed to be a hen, but isn't that what everyone always says? :p


my question today is about our bantam girl. she was badly injured awhile back (somehow got out of the coop at night and ripped open the back of her neck trying to get back in through the fencing). she's a fighter so she's fine now but the awful injury left an awful scar on her neck where the feathers are never going to come back. the bald spot is basically proving to be a target sign to the others and I've tried putting her back twice now. both times, everyone is so mean to her, I cant leave her in there. they draw blood. all these birds were raised together and never had a problem before this. I think part of our problem is that we had a nasty r.i.r hen that may have taught my girls bad dominence habits. (it was an older hen we rescued and we quickly found out why she was unwanted, and rehomed her to a house where she can see and talk to other birds without straight interaction with them. they named her zombie for her evil ways but she is loved there). I'm not sure how to get them to accept my sweet tiny hen without really hurting her. she's obviously lonely for other birds. on the back of her neck, her skin is practically rice-paper thin in places, but they need to re-establish a pecking order and that involves....pecking. has anyone ever seen a shield for that area? or is there some sort of deterent I can apply? what if i get a few more small hens as like-sized buddies? would it helps if everyone was new and confused? my other half thinks maybe trading where everyone is for a few days would help, so the coop smells like and is 'dominated' by my bantam and then replace the other birds slowly.. add the lowest rung hen, then the alpha, then the rooster.. has anyone tried something like that? hiding spots don't seem to quite cut it, she just huddles until she's dehydrated- even if theres a water and food sorce nearby that the others aren't using. and as soon as one of us humans is in the coop, she flies to our shoulders and wont get off because shes afraid to be on the ground. if we didn't have young cats I would just make her into a house chicken, honestly :p 

to compound issues, my rooster has a developed a feather plucking issue and I'm addressing it with more protein, more calcium and more activities to keep them busy but until he's re-focused his attentions I see him basically killing her, just because she's so fragile already. (plus his being 18lbs more than her, which is already a worry with those two. does anyone else have a giant rooster with itty-bitty hens?.. does it work out?)

it's winter here for real now in northern california, and I need my dog run back for my dog and the little hen to be able to keep warm and happy with her flock, so this is becoming a real issue for the family as a whole.

thank you!!!!!!

post #2 of 8
I don't recommend keeping bantam and large breeds together, especially in a confined coop and run, the larger birds could kill her, I would urge you to not try, she needs other bantams. And please don't put her with a Jersey giant rooster. Perhaps you could get her own coop and find her some company.
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
post #3 of 8

She would be seen as an outsider since she has been out of the group for a long while now. I would also recommend getting her into a set up with only other bantams and docile ones at that.


I do have bantams in with my large birds BUT the meaner large birds are in a different section of the coop. The little ones in my group are very dominant so far (6 years for the littlest one and 4 years on the younger ones). Yes they actually need others their size. I keep no roosters so that may be the only reason mine are ok...... That and the fact that I have one extremely protective Buff Orpington that will whoop up on anyone messing with the little ones.


I would NOT put a small hen in with a HUGE rooster. Not fair to the hen at all. There are all manor of small coops perfect for bantam chickens on the coops page and they are not hard to build at all.


If you only have 4 chickens and one is a bantam and one other is a male then you have a few additional issues you may want to address. Hen to roo ratio is off and the hens may end up over mated.


Totally I would rehome that male if you are limited on the number of chickens you can keep in your area. Fix that tear in the fence that the little one got out of in the first place and either get a bantam set up or rehome the bantam as well.


That is my advice on it. I know not all would agree but there it is anyway.

post #4 of 8

Many times people post "that they were raised together" and are like you surprised that they don't continue to be nice. Unfortunately chicken society in not real nice.


As state above, when you pulled the bird, she left the flock and they forgot her. Now when she is added back, they attack to protect their territory. Adding a single bird back to an established flock is very difficult for an equal sized bird, when the bird is much smaller it is worse. Dominance comes with home territory, size of the bird, age of the bird, and number of birds in the flock. It is easier to add several birds at one time, they will all get pecked, but it spreads the pecking out over all of them. A single bird takes all of it.


Truthfully, you have a flock that is going to be prone to tension in the flock. You really don't have enough hens for the rooster, and the rooster is quite a bit bigger than the hens. You don't mention the age of your birds, and the Jersey Giants are a slow maturing breed, so as this fellow becomes mature, you may get a lot more problems. 


A lot also depends on the dimensions of your coop/ run set up. Space often times causes a lot of problems as birds reach full size. What was big enough, no longer is big enough.


Your idea of adding more bantam birds is not a bad idea, but you need to add one to your bantam, get that bond established, then add the pair back, but in reality, I just don't like this set up. You have too much difference in birds.


I agree with the above post. I don't see the bantam making it in the flock. Maybe if the rooster was gone, but it is a pretty small maybe. I would let the roo and the bantam go, and keep the other too and add more similar birds. Or let the three go, and keep the bantam.


Mrs K

Edited by Mrs. K - 1/4/16 at 6:58pm
Western South Dakota Rancher
Western South Dakota Rancher
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

thank you for all the input. we are trying to rehome the rooster, but so far everyone wants him for a soup pot and he's a pretty good boy with people so I've been trying to hold out against that. there seems to be an abundance of roosters people are trying to get rid of right now; i presume they're all people who also had a surprise rooster in their chicks. we never expected to have such a difference in sizes, it was explained to us that the particular bantam hen breed we brought home was just an ever so slightly smaller hen, "barely a bantam" not that she was going to be an itty-bitty teacup of a bird, and of course, the rooster was *supposed to be* a hen, never intended on having a roo, ever, but he's here for now.

we've been trying to adapt and enlarge our coop- which has no holes and we've been over about a million times looking for how the hen got out in the first place. it would've been a great coop for the 4 basically like sized hens we were planning on, with room to add more next year, and what we ended up with right now has been an interesting experience. i know there's issues galore with my flock setup, and im doing what i can with the resources i have. the coop is quite large, not one of those tiny city things, we have a birthing stall for horses transformed into a coop, with an outdoor run going out around it and its not limited in size, we can expand forever if we need to.. probably will once winter is over and i can unearth more fencing from the another paddock. seriously, I don't know how a mouse would get in there, much less poor Ella getting out.

the worst part is how attached my other half and I are to the 'problem children', the bantam is her baby and the rooster is my buddy, we carry them around with us all the time like lapdogs. i know he'll be happier when he's rehomed but I'm going to miss him, we call him Prince Charming and all the girls are named for princesses.. the bantam's name is Ella, as in "Cinderella" :P

do you think if I had more bantams than regular sized birds, the two normal hens would be calmer? they aren't large breeds themselves, just not bantams. I plotted out my coop a long time ago and I have room for about 6 birds total as it stands and i think maybe if the alpha hen had more girls to rule over it would be easier on them, spread out her attentions somewhat. do you think this would work? for now everyone is separated as much as possible for their physical well-being. if i did, would you recommend getting matured girls so they cant be picked on as much at first or younger hens so they might be more complacent? i do like, and have been trying to act on, getting a bantam buddy for Ella, at the very least if she ends up always in my dog run then she isn't alone, the dog run is pretty dang big too. we were talking about maybe just building a whole new one for the actual dog if the birds wont cooperate.


thank you so much for all the advice, its all very appreciated :)

post #6 of 8

For you what I would recommend is getting a set up that can house the bantams by themselves. Yes that is plural lol. You will need more bantams for the little Ella. When you get them I recommend putting them all in the coop at the same time. No one is dominant that way. (Please read up on quarantine practices first. Very important to do so you don't lose Ella to a sick new comer.) You would need to quarantine the new ones away from Ella for a month to make sure they are healthy. (Pain in the butt but then you don't want to risk Ella I am sure.)

I would keep the rooster if you are able to and like him but you will NEED more large hens. The bigger the better. There are LARGE and docile breeds available. Brahma are docile and large enough to deal with him. Black Australorp are another large and reasonably docile breed as are Buff Orpingtons.

I would keep at least 10 hens for that rooster.

I know it is hard to find a new home for your surprise rooster. I have had a couple shockers myself over the years. I am not allowed roosters where I am but can have many hens. Kind of a bummer when a roo pops up in the lot. Yes most people will be looking at him as dinner especially due to his size. Be diligent if rehoming him and keep looking. There are people out there looking for a good rooster. They are just hard to find. You can post on the bulletin boards at the feed stores as another place to try and find a suitable home for him if you choose not to keep him.


My set up that is working with many chickens in my coop is as listed below. (I include breeds to show how diverse my mix is.) It is possible to have interesting birds together. Choosing the right breeds is key. I have started choosing very docile breeds.


One coop section.... Old meanies

2 leghorns, 2 Black Australorp, 2 Speckled Sussex, 1 Delaware, 1 blue wyandotte, 1 Gold laced wyandotte, 1, Blue andalusian, 1 Easter Egger.

They have their section due to the aggression of the wyandottes and the Easter Egger. One leghorn is super dominant and rather mean the other is super docile. (poor thing)

Interesting thing is that these birds although large do have some differences in size, just not much. The Delaware is the largest while the leghorn is the smallest. All are over 4 pounds.


The other coop has many sizes in it. I include breeds so you can see if you like the size differences in that group by looking up breeds you are not familiar with.

4 Brahma, 3 bantam cochin, 2 Silver Spangled Hamburg, 4 Buff Orpington, 1 Easter Egger, 2 Iowa Blue, 1 Black Australorp, 3 Partridge Rock.


The Brahma are huge but docile beyond expectation. The smallest is a 6 year old bantam cochin that is a mere 6 inches to the top of her tiny head. No one picks on anyone in this group. I am surprised by it since the bantams are very very small in comparison.


The thing I think that makes this work is partly the number of birds in the group. It is hard to chase down and pick on just one when there are many in the way.


Two links that are super good reads and everyone should read them.


I hope this helps you somehow.

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Looks like I have my work cut out for me. From the sound of it, we might be going for a flock of bantams once Prince is rehomed; we might have some chicken keeping family that could take in our other two layers as well, and we’ll just start fresh. I’ve been posting all over the place for Prince.. So far people think he’s “too big to be safe” or “that would be a great turkey dinner”.

I’ve had a silver spangled hamburg before and adored her-easily one of the best pets I’ve had J. I think they’re my favorite breed, hands down. Ella isn’t too different in size, either.. I think I’ll keep an eye out for a couple, they’re hard to get here because the shop always sells out within an hour, wont hold them  and I work late hours. That partially contributed to the random assortment of chicks we brought home. What we picked on the list was mostly gone and we did some quick research and talked to the fella there who swore this combo would work out. Uh-huh. Anyways.. everyone who isn’t totally happy will be satisfied and settled comfortably by the time this is over, fingers crossed.

When I think of all the impulse buy/rescue animals my mom or I have brought home (miniature horses, dogs, chicks, button quail, cats, guinea pigs…..someone gave us a whole mixed flock of hens once-13 news girls to add to our flock of 6 lol. Never had an issue as far as anyone not getting along with someone else. and then we planned so much with this batch of chickens, and it all went sideways really quickly. I miss when I could let everyone be free roaming in my yard and roost in the fruit trees like the old days, but the new neighbors let their dogs wander everywhere and those have proven to be total butt-headed jerky dogs. (I don’t criticize animals lightly, but when your “sweet ol boy” snaps at my 6 month old puppy for just walking over, and tries to start a fight with my *actually* sweet old boy, we’re done.. plus they go through my trash and growl at me, all this in my own driveway. Because of them, my outdoor cats are now indoors and my quiet dog has learned to bark in fear when they show up, so I can let her in before they go after her again). This is my first time keeping everyone confined, I can’t say im totally surprised they don’t like it and have gone a little nutty, even if it is a monster of a coop, it seems kinda unnatural, keeping birds stuck in a building with only the one area to peck at. Really tried to make this the best coop ever and it never seems like enough, does it? Maybe when they’ve taken over the whole 20 acres it will be :p But, we’re working out the kinks, and im very glad of the support everyone on here has shown me, my animals and I are grateful.

Thank you again for all the advice, it’s been enormously useful!

post #8 of 8

You are welcome. Keep us posted on how you get things worked out. Even though there are the "seen" readers on here there are many more unseen that are looking for answers too. Perhaps what you work out for yours will help someone that is also "stuck".

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