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Chicken Jail Questions

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone :frow

 

I rarely post but this is a question I'm having a hard time finding answers for with what I have to work with. I have a mixed flock and two of the birds are ISA Browns. They are awful. They bully everyone else none stop. Every moment of every day is stressful because of them. They won't let the other birds eat, they won't let the other birds sit in the nest (even though they're not using the nest at all themselves), sometimes they just all of a sudden zone in on another bird and chase them around for no reason whatsoever. I'm sick of it. I don't really have much for options on birdie jail so I just built a small extension off of the current chicken run. It's 1/5 the size of the run with the rest of the birds and they can still see the rest of the flock. I put a cat carrier in there with a nice towel covering most of the front door and a plastic lid over that so it stays dry with some dry hay in there. So here are my questions:

 

Is birdie jail pointless if they can see the other birds still? I could create some sort of a blind if necessary.

 

Should I let them sleep in the coop at night? I'd rather have them sleep in the cat carrier if that's ok. I feel as though chasing them down to put them in confinement each day will cause the whole flock stress.

 

How long do I need to do this before I allow them back in with the other birds? 

 

What if the flock does REALLY well without them....? I mean they're all great birds except those two...(and please don't tell me to cull, I don't do that)

 

I've always sort of known this was going on a bit but then everyone stopped laying eggs entirely so I decided to watch the whole flock closely for a few days, just hanging out outside all day and observing and saw just how bad and constant it is. I've made some changes to the coop and laying nests as well to make the birds more comfortable and I'm hoping laying will resume. If it does with the other two out I'll be a little hesitant to allow them back in. So my last question is....

 

How cruel would it be to keep the two birds in their own little space permenantly. Although their extension is far smaller than the rest of the run it isn't exactly tiny. The chickens have a very large portion of my large backyard.

 

Thanks in advance all. 

post #2 of 7
How big is your current set up? Some birds don't do well in confinement and get mentally and physically bored, they soon start to make trouble. It wouldn't be cruel to keep these two by themselves, they obviously aren't enjoying being with the flock too much anyways.

If you are trying to shake up the pecking order than the birds should disappear for a while, if you are just separating then they should still be able to see everyone. I too have had behavioral problems with sex links and don't keep them anymore.
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.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
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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.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldhenlikesdogs View Post

How big is your current set up? Some birds don't do well in confinement and get mentally and physically bored, they soon start to make trouble. It wouldn't be cruel to keep these two by themselves, they obviously aren't enjoying being with the flock too much anyways.

If you are trying to shake up the pecking order than the birds should disappear for a while, if you are just separating then they should still be able to see everyone. I too have had behavioral problems with sex links and don't keep them anymore.

Thank you for your reply. The set up is more than adequate for the number of birds I have, I don't know the measurements but they have a lot of space. At the moment, the space that the two are in is smaller than where I would keep two birds for an extended period of time but I just kind of threw it together and could take the time to create their own little spot. It's something that I am considering because everything went much more smoothly with them separated today. I won't be getting any more sex links from here on out I only got them because a local friend pointed me at somebody trying to find homes for ex battery hens and I had room so I took a couple in.

 

Everything is going ok except that only one is sleeping in the carrier and the other is just laying outside. There is no predator issue for me, I've had an open coop for over a year now. I just don't want them to get too cold... I'm in Australia and it's the end of summer so it's still fairly warm but it cools down at night.... maybe I should try to find an old small coop if I'm going to make this permanent? 

post #4 of 7
Don't worry about them being cold, they can get stressed by sudden drastic drops in temperatures, but chickens are built to handle cold better than warm. We get down to -20's F and mine do fine.

Ex battery hens are probably mentally messed up too, not spending much time doing chicken stuff, or learning to get along in a flock. I totally free range and hardly ever see any behavioral problems or health issues, I feel it's worth the risk of predation to keep them fulfilled.

Most things I have figured out by trying stuff then changing it up if it doesn't work. You sound like you have a good plan.
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.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
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.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
post #5 of 7

If I had birds that were that disruptive to the flock dynamics, not to mention stressing me out that much, I'd sell them. If they're in their first laying year I could easily get $20 each for them. I'd then buy a few more pullets or some chicks ( I could get a lot of chicks for that $40 :D ) and have a happy, stress free flock. And a happy, stress free ME!

 

If you're determined to keep them, you can try a few different things. 

 

Leave them separate from the flock for a few days. Then, try putting one bird back in the flock and leave the other apart. This breaks up their unit and can change their behavior. Let things settle for a few days, then put the other bird back in and see how it goes. 

 

Build a separate enclosure for them to live in full time. 

 

It doesn't matter if they can see the main flock from their jail. 

 

As long as they're safe from predators, dry and out of the wind, they're fine to be in the jail overnight. 

 

 

Just re-read where they're ex-battery birds....they may never get along in a flock, sorry. 

Rachel BB

Stem cell transplant from unrelated donor in Feb 2015. Thank you to all my friends here on BYC for all your support during my treatment and ongoing recovery!

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Rachel BB

Stem cell transplant from unrelated donor in Feb 2015. Thank you to all my friends here on BYC for all your support during my treatment and ongoing recovery!

Reply
post #6 of 7

Here's what I did when I had a problem almost exactly like yours.

 

I have four Speckled Sussex hens, three of which are absolute terrors. They were pounding the daylights out of all the other hens, and even yanking out all their feathers. First thing I tried was pinless peepers. That really is very effective when you have bullies, and it works most of the time to limit their vision so they can't target their "prey" as easily. Well, these terribles learned to see well enough with the peepers to continue their bullying almost as if they didn't even have them on.

 

Then I went all the way and took the peepers off and installed bumpa bits, which keep them from closing their beaks all the way. Again, these tyrants managed to work around the bits and continued terrorizing the flock.

 

So, three years ago, the two roosters died who were living in the bachelor pen and coop in the rear of the main run. I decided to take these four and move them into the empty coop and run. It turned out to be the best decision I could have made for my flock. Everyone was happy, including these four Sussex hens.

 

Recently, the three Sussex who are the real bullies, ganged up on the fourth Sussex. Since Judy was always much more docile than the other three, I moved her in with the main flock, and after a period of adjustment, she's now doing splendidly, and sporting a full set of feathers for the first time in her five years. The other three don't seem to miss her.

 

The three bullies do get to free-range with the main flock, and while they do occasionally pound a hen just because they're thugs, they generally get along just fine out in the yard. But the three Sussex are completely content being their own flock and they like having their own coop and run to themselves.

 

They're happy. I'm happy.

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much to everyone who has given advice. I have just been keeping the two ex batteries in their own run. I made it a lot bigger and they are perfectly happy being apart. They only get agitated when I come in to feed or give treats and they have to wait their turn rather than beat everyone up to take it all haha. 

 

I let my birds "free-range" the best I can. I've given them half the yard. I share a yard with my landlord and she has two feral dogs she never trained that attack the birds if they get out so they have half the yard and an open coop and I don't force them in or out. I do feed them once a day because I don't think they are getting everything they need from their space but they also have the compost pile to scratch around in and the space really is quite big. I'm guessing 3 meters by 3 meters and that's just for 8 birds. Now the 2 have a portion half the size of the larger pen but they seem content. Everyone is happy and I never see anybody fighting anymore. Battle wounds are healing and when I feed the clock it's relaxed. I considered getting rid of the birds but I just feel bad that they were battery hens and now they have a nice place to live out their life. They're pretty terrible so I don't see anybody taking them and not culling them eventually. So their pen is reduced but they get to live comfortably. Hopefully I'll get a few more eggs out of them for the trouble :idunno

 

Problem solved.

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