Can a hen live separated from the flock?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by AWickedChicken, Dec 27, 2016.

  1. AWickedChicken

    AWickedChicken Out Of The Brooder

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    For a while now I've been working on plans for a chicken nursery for the eggs to incubate and chicks to brood in the spring, the plan was if there was a broody hen and we were ready for hatchlings we'd move her from the flock and into the nursery until she and the chicks were ready to move back into the flock but now I'm thinking of changing that plan.

    Some back-story:
    We have a silkie hen that goes broody quite often which is by all means fine to me but she is majorly picked on by the flock. It started with just being "over-bred" by the king and we thought the problem had stopped but now it's started back up and all of the roosters are doing it, not only are they over breeding her now but none of the roosters or hens will let her eat until they are done which again we thought was fine because she likes to sit in the nest until one of the roosters(the only one who isn't cruel to her) comes and sits on the nest for her, but now the other roosters have noticed and they've started dragging her off the nest by her wing and pretty much making her watch them eat until they are finished. And yes we are planning to remove some of the roosters, but I feel like that wouldn't be enough to help her.

    Back to the question:
    Can my silkie hen survive on her own? Can we put her in the nursery permanently to lay eggs or raise chicks as she wishes without any roosters to breed her or torture her? (Yes, I know without the rooster her eggs will not be fertilized, but we have many other hens who lay plenty of fertilized eggs that she could sit on) Or will she become depressed on her own? If that is the case we have three little bantams that could go with her, but I really feel like she would want her own space for a while, no more watching her back every time she makes a move for the food or water, nobody ripping her off of her eggs that she's trying to hard to protect in the middle of our winter. (Ohio weather, 60F yesterday and 30F today.)

    Answers, Opinions, Stories, Advice, or even other questions will all be greatly appreciated. I really want to here what other's think about this before I do anything, and I'm trying to get as much knowledge of what I'm doing before I do it. Thank you everyone who takes the time to read this!
     
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    It sounds as if she has a better chance of surviving by herself rather than being tortured by the flock. I would suggest moving her before she is either permanently injured or killed.
     
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    It would be helpful if you would give us some more information. Number of birds, types of birds, I am taking it that she is your only silkie? You have some bantams and some full size birds ? Just exactly how many roosters, and how old are the roosters? And what are the dimensions of your coop and run?

    Thing is, and I am guessing at this point, but I think you are just headed into some more problems, where as the silkie is just the first victim. I see you joined in September, so am wondering if your birds are just beginning to reach adult size?

    Basically, hens are a flock animal, I think they do better with other birds. However, once they get picked on as you are describing, they seldom quit getting picked on. Separation may be best. A different flock with more silkies might really be best. Personally, I want birds that get along in a flock. I solve for the flock. Funny thing is, when you have birds attacking other birds, it creates tension in the flock even for the birds not being attacked. Sometimes you pull the victim, and the flock settles down, sometimes the bullies find a new victim.

    Space, types of birds, and age of birds can dramatically affect this behavior.

    Mrs K
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I keep my hens in a variety of settings almost continuously. Some are kept in classical flocks with only one or two roosters with 3 to 10 hens. Some involve a single hen penned with a single rooster together year round. Most of my game hens are penned singly for about 8 months of the year. Once hens are selected for the breeding flock (usually at least 2 years before that is done) they can live a few years more at least without trouble. As a general rule the hens compare favorably in appearance and longevity to most backyard chickens. There is more impacting quality of life for hens than social groupings. Hens that are rough looking are those in more or less continuous lay and those that are producing multiple broods in rapid succession.

    If confining a hen singly, then stay on top of issues like mites and lice. You can also employ some environmental enrichment such as a little hay with whole grains scattered about.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
  5. AWickedChicken

    AWickedChicken Out Of The Brooder

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    @sourland Thats what I'm afraid of :/

    @Mrs. K We have 16 chickens right now, 7 Red Sex-link hens and 1 Red Sex-link rooster, 2 Sebright bantam hens and 1 bantam rooster, 2 Rhode Island Red roosters and 1 Rhode Island Red hen, and 1 Silkie hen and 1 Silkie rooster. We originally had 4 Silkies and 4 Rhode Island Reds but we lost our king silkie, his queen, and an RIR hen to some raccoons. It's the remaining Silkie rooster that started all of the problems after he became "king" of the coop. So that makes 11 hens and 5 roo's which is not what we intended but at our local farm store it's a guessing game with the chicks. We got them all in April as itty-bitties (still covered in fluff and peeping), originally we got 3 Red Sex-link pullets and our 3 bantams and then a week or two later we went back and got the RIR's, Silkies, and 5 more Red Sex-links(including the roo) the Silkies were already starting to get their feathers in when we got them but everybody got along fine for the most part. Right now getting more birds isn't an option for me as we have our coop built on my in-laws property and at the time don't have room for more of them. I don't know the exact dimensions of the coop and run as my in-laws built it but I will try to remember to take a measuring tape out with me. The bullying started just as fall hit but only lasted a week or so. I kind of wonder if the winter has something to do with it or not..

    @centrarchid Like I said to Mrs. K, I would love to have more flocks and separation but right now it isn't really an option. That's part of my question, is if it's not advisable to keep her alone I could remove the bantams too as they seem to get along with her fine.
     
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    My posting indicates you can keep her alone. I have had some kept singly without even hearing another for two years before normal social interactions restored.
     
  7. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    I happened upon one of your threads from nearly 3 months ago where pictures of this hen indicated severe wounds caused by overbreeding of these full sized roosters. Seriously, you have had nearly 3 months to address the situation.
     
  8. Anne4596

    Anne4596 Out Of The Brooder

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    It is not good for any chicken to be kept alone long term. I had a chicken who almost injured herself because she wanted to be with the rest of the flock. If any of the other chickens are kind to her, than maybe pick a buddy for her to live with and keep them in a separate coop. However, if she really is broody all of the time, than she will be fine raising chicks away from the flock.
     
  9. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Your first concern should be to provide relief to this beleaguered Silkie hen. You already know that splitting the chickens into two flocks may be the best solution. Do it.

    Some mixed flocks tolerate size and breed differences splendidly and with no negative incidents. But as a rule, chickens, by nature, like to focus on the ones who are smaller and different in appearance and of docile, or timid temperament.

    Generally, single chickens are unhappy and would much rather be with a flock even though they're mistreated. But there are always exceptions. Some chickens, if of the temperament for independence, will tolerate and even thrive as loners. But those generally are given a lot of attention by their humans or they have other animal companions such as dogs or goats.
     
  10. CoopintheWoods

    CoopintheWoods Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If she has chicks with her most of the time, she might be okay. For short times between broods, you can play one of the 10hr cluck recordings 24/7 from youtube. That's what I used when I had a chicken who needed to be away from the flock for a few weeks due to an injury. Or you could house her with the two or so hens who pick on her the least.
     

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