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Advice needed on how to reintroduce a rejected bird.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by OmeletMan, Aug 5, 2013.

  1. OmeletMan

    OmeletMan Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 5, 2012
    I have a problem and desperately need some advice. At this point, I don't know who is more stressed the flock or me...

    I have a mixed flock of 11 hens. About 2 weeks ago I had to separate one of the girls from the flock as I noticed she seemed to have an infection. I had her separated for no more than a day or two before everything cleared up. At that point she was returned to the coop. It was at that moment it seemed as if the flock had never seen her before. She was attacked on the spot. I had to go in and pull her out.

    She was again separated for another couple days as I tried to figure out what to do. I would let her out with the rest of the flock, but they chase her out to the edge of the yard especially whenever she tried to forage with the flock. It appears as though a few birds don't want her in the flock or in their territory anymore. There are a few birds that are indifferent with her presence. There seems to be moments when she is more accepted, but in the end there are 4-6 birds that will chase her/and attack her given the chance.

    For her own safety, I tried isolating her in the coop in a safety cage so she could be seen and heard but safe. At night she went on the perch with the rest of the flock. I did this for about a week and there was no improvement.

    I did some research on what to do when a flock rejects one of their own. I didn't come up with much for solutions. One method was to take another low ranking bird that gets along with her, keep them together for a week, then bring them both back into the flock together, to even out the reestablishment of the pecking order. I dint like this idea since with my luck both birds would be rejected from the flock. Another was just cull/re home the booted bird.

    Today is the worst I have seen things. The picked on bird didn't even want to enter the run to roost. She hesitantly went to the perch. As soon as she got up there she was chased off and out the coop. She tried again and was successful to get into a back corner of the perch.

    I can read there is tension in the flock. When she is around most birds stare at her like she doesn't belong. The flock has been peaceful until I did the "right" thing and separated her to tend to her heath. Now she is whipped every chance that the flock gets. She does not leave the coop. All I ever see of her is standing on the window sill as the rest of the flock scratches in the run. This pains me since my actions were at the root of this.

    She hangs around me and my wife just for social interaction. She is a sweet bird and as far as I can tell she had always has been a submissive low ranking bird. But now she is so full of fear to be chased/attacked that she is incredibly tense. I think this tense fear is enough to spur her to fight back and or encourage the behaviors I am seeing in the other birds.

    I don't think re homing the picked on bird would be a good option and I would hate to cull her from the flock as she is dear to me. I just want the flock to be at peace again.

    I am willing to try anything to bring peace again. I am sure there is someone out there that has had some similar things happen. All advice is welcome. I miss smiling when I interact with my chickens.

  2. Sallysec

    Sallysec Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 31, 2012
    New York
    I'm no expert...but I know I've heard from others that as long as there is no blood being drawn that it is best to let them work it out. Someone is always going to be the bottom bird, and once they establish the order they usually stop picking at that bird...she knows her place etc.

    I had a sick bird but she went back with only a day Or two with different behavior before everything went back to normal.
  3. MrsBachbach

    MrsBachbach Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 6, 2013
    Well, I was going to suggest separating her and at least two other birds she gets along with for a little while, then reintroducing all three. The bullies may not be so brave when they have more than one bird to deal with. If you don't want to try it that way, you could try it the other way. Separate the bullies for a few days or a least a couple of them. Get them out of their comfort zone. The pecking order will likely stay the same when they leave and no new fighting would break out. See if your rejected bird is more accepted and when everything is comfortable, reintroduce the others. When they come back, they may try to re-establish themselves and some fighting may break out, but I don't think it will be directed soley on that one rejected bird. They will be the outsiders wanting in.
  4. pmessner

    pmessner Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 17, 2012
    Newtown, CT
    I had a similar problem but was never able to resolve it... the others beat on her miserably until she went lame... I like your thinking here. I would try this.
  5. OmeletMan

    OmeletMan Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 5, 2012
    That all sounds good. I separated her this morning. It seemed as though she was even getting harassed in the coop which would keep her from food and water. I will let her out in the yard this afternoon and see who she gets along with. I will put at least 2 separate for a few days to give that a try.

    I just got 4 four week old chicks that I am hoping to integrate in a about 6 weeks. I really don't want issues to persist as is till then. At least the entire flock is will watch the chicks grow over the next month and a half and I hope there will be less of an issue with them.

    How long should I separate out 2 before trying to reintegrate them?
  6. new chick 203

    new chick 203 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 8, 2010
    Ridgefield CT
    First, are you sure the bird is really well? Sometimes a bird will get rejected from the flock if they are unwell. Chickens see and know things we don't.

    If she is 100% well then I would only try to re introduce her in the most relaxed possible setting. For me that would be while free ranging. Let her out with all the "good girls", and see how that goes. In time let one of the trouble makers out and see how that goes. Keep doing that as long as long as it works. You might find that it's really just one hen instigating it all. If you can get everyone else on board then you might just have to isolate the trouble maker for a little while to take her down a peg then reintroduce her.

    Also, I have found that giving the picked on hen extra attention sometimes backfires. I don't know if the mean girls get jealous, or they see you as the rooster and they think you are dominating her or what, but it seems to make it worse if they see you carrying her and petting her etc.

    Good luck.[​IMG]
  7. OmeletMan

    OmeletMan Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 5, 2012
    I think that you have a good point. She does look to me and my wife for safety. I am seen as the top bird. I do believe there could be some jealousy going on too since she is getting more attention.

    Since there is more than one troublemaker isolating them will be hard.

    As far as health I am pretty sure she is fine. She is eating but she hasn't laid since this problem started. I think it is do to the stress. I don't like to medicate if there are no symptoms.
  8. CedarAcres

    CedarAcres Sunny Side Up

    Mar 18, 2013
    My Coop
    I'm having a similar issue myself right now, although yours situation seems worse than what I'm dealing with. I have one bird that is bullying one of the others, and a few other birds chiming in here & there copying her behavior, but all of the drama seems to be coming from one bully in my situation. I've just been letting it be for now, since she isn't being hurt, just chased. In my previous experiences they usually stop once they feel like they've proven their dominance, so I'm waiting it out. If I see the lower girl get hurt, I'm going to take the bully out and isolate her for a few days to a week and then reintroduce her. Have you noticed if there is one bird that is sort of the instigator in the bullying?
  9. wantedman66

    wantedman66 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 28, 2011
    Everyone here has the right advice but I think I would isolate the bullies for a few days so the picked on one can destress alittle.
  10. MrsBachbach

    MrsBachbach Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 6, 2013
    I would take at least a couple of the bullies out for about a week. The worst ones. Put them somewhere across the yard or something where they aren't too close to the others. I think if you isolate the picked on bird and a buddie it won't really bring down her stress levels. The move out and move in will re stress her and likely make her a target again. When you bring in those new chicks and they get old enough to mix, things should go better for her. Very likely she will no longer be on the bottom of the pecking order. She could very well pick on the younger birds herself or maybe feel more at home with that flock.
    1 person likes this.

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