Down to One Lonely Chicken - Advice for Adding to Flock?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by goldcountrygirl, Sep 23, 2014.

  1. goldcountrygirl

    goldcountrygirl New Egg

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    Aug 21, 2010
    Placer County, CA
    We're down to one chicken, after losing our beautiful second to last hen to an injury. Our remaining girl seems bored & lonely without her best buddy. She doesn't even make her usual clucking noises anymore...just hides out in the bushes. (I know she's feeling okay though, because she still comes running for treats).

    We have a friend with a large flock willing to spare 1-2 young hens. I guess my question is, how do we go about introducing new chickens to a flock of 1? Do we need to quarantine? Part of me thinks why bother, because our current hen is almost 5 and - although I certainly don't want her to get sick and die - I mostly just want her to be happy. Also, how violent are introductions in small flocks like this?

    Complicating matters, we are leaving on a vacation pretty soon and I'm debating whether it's safer to 1) leave my moping/lonely chicken alone for a week, where she might just sit around and pick up mites or 2) add a new chicken(s) not knowing how they will get along when we're gone.

    Any advice? Sorry for the long post.
     
  2. Amina

    Amina Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 12, 2013
    Raleigh, NC
    In my experience, introductions can occasionally be relatively painless, but they can also really suck and it can take several weeks for everyone to get along. It depends on the personalities of the chickens. During this time, you may be doing extra work making sure no blood has been drawn and that everyone has gotten enough food and water. So if your trip is in the next few weeks, I would definitely wait til after that to attempt integration.

    All that being said, even if you choose not to quarantine, you'll want to have a "look but don't touch" period of about a week, so that the chickens can meet each other but be separated by a fence or cage bars if you can use a large dog crate. After that week is up, you can try mixing everybody.
     
  3. Amina

    Amina Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Raleigh, NC
    As for the quarantine question, it is up to you. Personally, I would quarantine. But here are the things to consider. As you mentioned, not quarantining puts your current hen at risk of illness and death. Many common chicken illnesses may be things that the chicken can recover from, but would always remain a carrier and risk infecting any new birds. So it puts future birds at risk as well.

    Another thing to consider is the possibility of mites and lice. If your current hen gets mites or live from the new ones, that is one more hen that you'll need to treat. And some types of mites spend a lot of their life in the crevices of the chicken coop. So it might be harder to get rid of once they're in your coop.
     
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Examine the new birds carefully before buying. I would just add the new ones after dark. Make sure there are two or more feed bowls.
    Have a couple of different hide outs. Multiple roosts in the run, boxes kitty corner in a corner, a pallet leaned up against the wall of the coop are great hideouts.

    I have added birds several times, and as long as they were all adults, and equal sized, might be a squabble or two, but generally they get over it quickly.

    Mrs K
     
  5. 11mini

    11mini Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 17, 2014
    Lake Stevens, WA
    I recently rehomed a roo and replaced it with a younger hen. I divided the run by 1/3 and gave the new chicken it's own space for a week. I let them all (3) free range in the yard for increasingly longer periods in the mornings. After the first week I cut a small hole in the divider to allow some back and forth access but still some security if it got too bad. I did not ever witness any excessive pecking nor see any injuries. After 2 weeks I removed the divider completely. I let them all roost together at night from the beginning. They all seem to be getting along, the new girl is actually #2 in the pecking order even though she is only 2/3 the size of the other two.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2014

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