De-beaked Hens -introducing them to my flock of 5

Dyann47

In the Brooder
6 Years
May 10, 2013
26
0
24
Hi! I recently came across someone selling 3 red star hens on a chicken facebook page. We were looking for more hens of laying age and the lady lived very close to me, so I scheduled a time to go look at them. When I got there the birds looked very healthy from the outside of the cage looking in. She told me she had some golden comets that she was making room for so she was thinning her flock. So I asked to look at the birds and when she caught the first one I noticed that it's top beak was much shorter then the bottom? I had never heard of de-beaking so I asked her if she had tried to "trim" it's beak and maybe something went wrong? She told me they came that way and that it was a common practice to prevent pecking/cannibalism. She even said that she planned on de-beaking her golden comets before putting them outside. I examined the hens and all had a semi-full crop, good body weight, and no evidence of lice or mites, so I got the three she was willing to give up. My question for you guys is, can these birds thrive in general population? I felt so sorry for them that I felt I needed to "rescue" them. I placed them into my coop with my 4 hens and 1 bantam rooster that evening close to roost time. There was the normal tension in the flock you would expect with new birds, but for the last few nights I have noticed they have not been roosting with the other birds, even though I have put up a secondary roost for them. They are staying under a small shelter in the coop. I have observed normal eating/drinking behavior ,I even stood guard so they could eat last night in peace without letting the other girls interfere. I know they will probably be at the lower end of the pecking order with their disability but do you think the others will ease up a bit? I'm hoping once I can let them free range they won't be so bored. I got the new girls Saturday and my others are not happy with not being allowed to come out. I was going to give the new girls a couple more days to know where home is. Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated.

 
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ChickenExplorer

In the Brooder
5 Years
Mar 25, 2014
21
1
26
Provo, UT
I have heard of de-beaking, but have never owned a hen who had undergone it. though I understand the worry, I personally feel it is a painful and unnecessary step in a chickens life. If the chicken came from a commercial farm, It probably was de-beaked there.

As far as the separating from the rest of the flock goes, that's perfectly normal. Even after the pecking order is established and the tension worked out, those chickens will still tend to stick with each other for a long time. They're more accustomed to each others company and will prefer it over the others. I have a combined flock and its taken almost 2 years for them to be equally comfortable with each other.
 

sumi

Égalité
Staff member
Premium member
8 Years
Jun 28, 2011
39,157
25,180
1,302
Tipperary, Ireland
X2 the above. To answer your question, "can these birds thrive in general population?" Absolutely! I once added 40 debeaked hens to my existing flock of around 30+, can't remember the exact number now. They were battery hens and my flock free ranged over a few acres. It was a HUGE change of scenery for the new girls, but they settled in within a month, found their places in the pecking order, got broody and hatched chicks... You get the picture. They did great with my flock. The only minor issue we had was with the severely debeaked girls who couldn't pick food like scratch off the ground and had to be fed everything in bowls. I had to make sure they got enough to eat at feeding time, but apart from that they were "normal" chickens in every way.
 

Dyann47

In the Brooder
6 Years
May 10, 2013
26
0
24
Thank you all! Of the three, two seems to be thriving ok. One girl,seems more stressed. Last night she was under a tunnel-type cover and almost seemed to be panting. I hand feed her and brought her over to the water bowl where she did eat a little. Should I isolate her for a little while or would that delay the transition? I could also be dealing with a not-so healthy girl. I got them Saturday and i'm considering letting them out this evening,close to roost time to see if that helps. My others are so bored.
 
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sumi

Égalité
Staff member
Premium member
8 Years
Jun 28, 2011
39,157
25,180
1,302
Tipperary, Ireland
If they've been at your place for a few days they'll know where "home" is now and you can start letting them out for a bit. The girl that is looking stressed, keep an eye on her and make sure she's not getting bullied. Also feel her crop after feeding times and make sure she's getting enough food. If she is bullied, put the bully in isolation for a few days. This will bump her down the pecking order a bit and hopefully cut down her bullying behaviour.

What seems to be the matter with the not so healthy girl? If she's showing signs of disease you need to isolate her asap in case she makes the rest of your flock sick. You can post in the Emergencies and Diseases forum section for advice, some guidelines for posting in that section here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/3569/have-an-emergency-disease-please-read-first/0_30

Best of luck!
 

Dyann47

In the Brooder
6 Years
May 10, 2013
26
0
24
She just seems to not be eating. She is one of the new ones. Her crop is empty, she seems inactive, and is staying kinda puffed out. I hoped it was just a adjustment thing.
 

sumi

Égalité
Staff member
Premium member
8 Years
Jun 28, 2011
39,157
25,180
1,302
Tipperary, Ireland
That's not good, if a chicken doesn't want to eat something's wrong. Separate her her, keep her warm and try and try and tempt her with something nice, a treat of some sort. I'd suggest you also post in the Emergencies section with as much details as possible. Good luck with her!
 
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