Company for my RIR Hen, Chick or Adult?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by WB4IUY, Mar 10, 2017.

  1. WB4IUY

    WB4IUY New Egg

    Mar 5, 2017
    I've been reading a lot, and am more confused now than ever :) Here's my situation... We have a beautiful RIR hen. She's been with us about 4 months now. She literally walked up out of the woods one day, and took up...roosting in the trees and following us around like a dog. Very affectionate, and we decided to make her a home. We set about to read and learn how to do this.

    We now have a nice & secure coop, and an ample and secure run. She loves it and puts herself to bed about an hour before dark. We let her out of the coup and into the run a little after sunrise, and then into the yard to free range most of the time that one of us is at home. We installed heat in the coup that keeps it between 35-55 degrees during cold weather, and wind breaks to prevent cold wind from ripping through and making her cold on windy winter nights. We've tried to make her as comfortable as possible, to minimize stress. When free ranging, she stays mostly in the back yard, and seems happy, though we noticed that she is a lot more comfortable to roam and sit about when we're in the yard with her. We guessed she is around a year old, she lays about every 26 hours and is in good health. She literally runs to us like a puppy and sits in our lap when we sit down with her. Great pet...

    We're worried that she is lonely, or would be more comfortable with another of her kind. Our question is, should we get another adult hen, or should we try to introduce her to a chick. I've read that we would need to separate her from a chick with a partition so they can see each other for a while, and gradually allow them to come together after a few weeks?

    Any feedback is appreciated. We want Rita to be as happy as she can be, but don't know the correct way to do this.

  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs I Wanna Be A Cowboy Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Either way can work. To me the biggest difference is adult birds, or older juveniles are more likely to introduce diseases to your existing hen where chicks should be cleaner.

    There's your second dilemma. You will need more than one chick to introduce to your single hen, I would say a minimum of 3. If getting an older hen you should add only one with the hopes they will bond together and not be adversaries.

    I personally would choose to get a few chicks. Brood them until they are 6-8 weeks of age before beginning integration.

    It can depend on what you want in the end. You hen sounds spoiled and happy, but would probably enjoy some more chickens to be chickens with.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2017
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    I know folks go on about how chickens are flock animals and need other chickens, but.......

    Unless you really want more birds, why rock the boat? She's been like this 4 months, sounds very healthy and is productive. If you're happy with just her, I'd leave things be. Introducing any other bird is going to have some drama, be it chick or adult. Plus, risk of disease, having to worry about a little getting beat up on.....just sayin, leaving her on her own is a perfectly viable option.

    That said, if you do want to get another bird, my thought would be a grown hen. It will go faster for them to get along than starting with a little chick.

    Or, maybe you could try another companion animal. A hen duck? Some other type of fowl? Ohhh, ohh, a goat! That's what she needs, a little goat to keep her company [​IMG]

    Cause chickens are a gateway animal, you know.........
  4. WB4IUY

    WB4IUY New Egg

    Mar 5, 2017
    Thanks for the feedback. I don't want to take a chance of introducing a disease to her, and she does seem very happy, but I thought it would be good for her to have a friend of her own kind. I may test the water with a chick and see what happens. She is very affectionate and docile, at least around us.

    I don't understand about broody hens, and have read that is is rare for many RIR hens to get that way. I have noticed, though, if I put a small clutch of fake eggs in her nest, she immediately sits on them and will stand up, move them around, and sit back she knows what she's doing. I tried another trick where I put a fake egg in her nest box, and one in the unused box beside her. The next morning, both were in her nest, under her. I did it a few times, and the result was always the same, it was no accident. Wasn't sure what to make of that.

    I thought broody hens would be ill or mean, but she was still her same calm and seemingly happy self.
  5. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Chickens do like the reassurance being with other chickens provides, but they aren't looking for buddies. They can derive the exact same satisfaction from living with another chicken whom they fight with every day as one with whom they get along. It's a 50/50 proposition whether you will get an adult hen that gets along with her. Do you want that kind of drama?

    You need to be clear why you want another chicken. If it's for the hen, you're missing the point. If it's because you wish to expand your flock, then you need to think things through and decide how many chickens you want.

    Getting an adult hen has health risks. Even a very healthy individual may be carrying contagious disease that can ruin your flock for the future.

    Getting chicks has its own risks. What will you do if one turns out to be a cockerel? Are you prepared for that?

    Chicks need special care and yes, there are integration steps that need to be followed. You will be very involved.

    If this hen is going broody, which is doubtful since there are unmistakable signs that she doesn't seem to have, whether she will accept baby chicks and brood them is an unknown. You could line up some fertilized eggs and wait and see if she goes broody, then buy the eggs and put them under her.

    It all boils down to whether you want more chickens, because your hen really doesn't need friends. She has you.
  6. snow5164

    snow5164 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 16, 2015
    I see people do this same thing with dogs . Most animals don't need or want a " friend " ,
    other than you . She sounds content and very loved . If you want more in the long run , I'd get some chicks . They won't be together for awhile but once they're grown a bit , it should work out.

    I have a heritage Rhode Island Red that wants me to hold her... she is with 10 Icelandics and 2 Wyandottes and I can tell you, Big Mama would love to be an only hen!!
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    The majority of my hens will tuck eggs underneath themselves, or collect eggs like you're talking about. It's not a broody behavior, it's just nesting. A kind of "protect the potential offspring" kind of thing, but not a "set on these eggs for 3 weeks" kind of thing, if you can see the difference.

    Broody is......on the nest 24/7. Off once a day or so to eat, drink, dust bathe, take a massive, stinky poop, and back on the nest. Flatten out like a chicken pancake while on the nest. Growl if you try to mess with her. Sleep on the nest--that's the big criteria for me. If they don't sleep on the nest, they're not broody.

    Reds tend not to be broody, but if she happens to flip that switch, you might go ahead and give her some eggs to hatch. Just keep in mind half will be cockerels, so you'll need to have a plan for those little boys at some point.
  8. lutherpug

    lutherpug Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 5, 2014
    Kansas City, MO
    Quote: This is only my 2nd year as a chicken keeper but I recently integrated 3 adolescent chickens with 3 adult hens and it has been brutal. Not for a few days, we are going on a month or more. My hens are docile and sweet as well-with people. I wouldn't use that as a benchmark for how they will be with a new chick, especially when all the attention will be on the sole newbie.

    Just my 2 cents. You'll have to do what you feel is right for your situation but my caution would be to not put too much stock in how friendly the hen is towards you.

    Good luck with whatever you choose.
  9. WB4IUY

    WB4IUY New Egg

    Mar 5, 2017
    Thanks for all the great info. Donrae, especially the description of "broody". I had no idea what that was. Rita has never slept on a roost pole or perch in her coup, she sleeps in her nest box. I check on her every night, just before I turn in for bed, and will open the door to the nest box, and there she is, asleep. I reach in and rub her every night, she'll wake enough to make that little mumble under her breath, and never move, kinda funny to me.

    I can see wanting more birds as I learn more, but will probably put in another coup to get them started, maybe let them share the same run. I still have lots to learn, and appreciate all of the info I've been reading here on BYC.


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