Chicken Farming not going well....

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by chookchick, Aug 29, 2008.

  1. chookchick

    chookchick Songster

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    Hi I'm a newbie with chickens, and I haven't had very good luck so far (I'll try to keep it short!). I raised four chicks from 3-4 weeks old to 10-11 weeks, then finally had to accept that three of them were roosters (they started fighting constantly)! I tried to find homes for two of the roosters, no luck. I called vets, they wanted $50 to put down each chicken. I finally called my neighbor, who was happy to butcher them for meat [​IMG] . All I had left was Big Bird and my runty little pullet Jackie O. (Big Bird crowed for the first time this morning, we'll see what the next-door neighbor says about that). I picked up 2 Wyandottes that were just about laying age. I kept them in a separate area for about a day and things seemed to be going okay, after a couple of squabbles, so I tried putting them together this morning (I know, bad, bad). After about 10 minutes the new hens decided they owned the coop and started chasing Big Bird and Jackie O. Right now I am thoroughly discouraged, Jackie and BB are very depressed and won't leave the coop at all. The hens are penned up in a 4x4 area and not happy about that. [​IMG]

    Should I call the previous owner of the hens and ask if she'll take them back, and give it a rest, or should I cordon off the day run so the new hens will have more room and stuff them back in the corner of the coop at night? I'm assuming that they will need to be separated for quite a while now, or will they never integrate due to the age and size difference? (3 mos. vs. 6 mos??) I just wanted to have a small flock of laying hens!
  2. leasmom

    leasmom Songster

    May 25, 2008
    You sound like me. My first go round, I lost one who died in my arms at a month old. Then I had 5 left and 4 turned out to be I just gave them away. The same day though I ended up getting some hens and starting getting eggs but for that short few hours in between I felt like a complete failure but now I don't. My original hen hasn't started yet, she still has a few weeks to go, but I'm waiting on her to be the one that has daily eggs and large ones at that because she's the only P.Red and the rest are Cochins and Silkies. Don't give up. I didn't quarantine mine which I learned later was the wrong thing to do but mine immediately got along with the new was like a community again. Don't give up...breath and it'll be fine.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2008
  3. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator

    Apr 21, 2008
    West Michigan
    First of all, [​IMG]!

    It's okay to struggle a bit when you're learning anything new. Don't expect to do everything right the first time... No one does, especially with anything as complicated as animals.

    As to your situation... I imagine you've done a little reading about chickens before you took up your new hobby. Something you may recall having heard of before is the "pecking order." Every chicken has a place and every chicken knows its place. This determines who gets the best roost, who eats first, etc. Anytime you introduce new birds into a flock, this is going to throw the pecking order off kilter as they have to determine a new social hierarchy. The attacks you see are just the older, bigger birds asserting their dominance. Pecking and chasing each other is part of it. Once they figure out who is the top hen, they'll back off.

    One caution with this is that chickens are likely to pick at any injury they see on another bird. If you see a chicken that gets injured so that it is wounded, you will want to separate it from the others and treat it, or the other chickens will make it worse.

    Also, something important to keep in mind when adding new birds from another flock to your flock: chickens can carry diseases that other chickens can catch. It's a "rule of thumb" to quarantine the new chickens from the old ones for a month just to determine that they don't have anything wrong with them. Now that you have them all together, I don't really know how much it would help to separate them for quarantine, but at least you have a small flock. If the new birds were to introduce disease into a large flock, you could lose the whole flock.

    I hope this helps you a bit! [​IMG]
  4. chookchick

    chookchick Songster

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    Thanks for the encouragement. I was really happy to see Big bird and Jackie O come out of the coop this afternoon and start scratching and laying down right next to the screened off hens. I do think they are lonely and want to make new friends when the hens are ready. I will take it slow and give the hens a larger area to run around in for a few days. I've read about the quarantine issue but I honestly don't have anywhere else to put them (I'd have to build another predator proof coop), and her birds looked great so I took the chance. Next year maybe I'll build a bigger coop! If I still have chickens [​IMG]
  5. wishin4chicken

    wishin4chicken Songster

    Jun 20, 2008
    Hayden Lake, Idaho
    I'm hoping everything goes great for you! Let us know. [​IMG]

  6. kstaven

    kstaven Crowing

    Jan 26, 2007
    BC, Washington Border
    Quote:Spend too much time around here and you will have lots of chickens by next year! [​IMG]

    It sounds like what you are going through with the birds is typical of new introductions. Time will resolve that issue. As to the rest that you describe. WE HAVE ALL BEEN THERE!
  7. d.k

    d.k red-headed stepchild

    * What's your overall run size??
  8. pkeeler

    pkeeler Songster

    Jul 20, 2008
    Keep them separated for a few days but where they can see and hear each other. Then put them together at night when they are roosting, so they don't see each other until they wake up. These are chickens, not people. When a dominant chicken pecks a another, they are letting them know they are dominant but also that they accept the other as flockmate.
  9. chookchick

    chookchick Songster

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    Thanks again for any info. I have been very busy this weekend building a new secure mini-coop for the 2 hens. I have them in a 8 x 8 day run area, next to the others in the "playhouse" style coop/run. I also put roosts in for them and they loooove the roosts. Everyone seems to be settled down happily at the moment and I'm going to leave them that way for a few days. I'm a bit concerned about the one hen constantly picking on her sister (SLW and GLW), she seems to be a bit of a bully, could that just be adjustment issues? She pulls feathers out of the GLWs rear sometimes. My other chickens did (do) a lot of posing and chasing, but no actual feather pulling.
  10. shangri-lafarms

    shangri-lafarms Songster

    Apr 24, 2008
    NY-Upstate Adirondacks
    [​IMG] don't give up [​IMG]

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