1. Come check out hundreds of awesome coop pages (and a few that need suggestions) in our 2018 Coop Rating Project!

Feeling overwhelmed!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Carrie31, Nov 14, 2014.

  1. Carrie31

    Carrie31 In the Brooder

    Jul 9, 2014
    Please bear with me, this may be a long post!
    We have a small flock of 7 chickens, of varying breeds. We treat like pets- I call them "my girls!" They come when I whistle, they hang out at the back door, begging for attention and treats, and all was well in our world until...
    A few days ago, one of my girls, Pecky, began to act, not like herself. I suspected sour crop- I vomited her, and she perked up a little, but still wasn't back to herself. We have another chicken, Miss Reggie, that we rescued last summer from a commercial chicken farm- she was being beaten to death by the other hens, so we brought her home to live in what I like to call, "The Battered Women's Coop." (I don't say that lightly- we have rescued each of our girls from situations they didn't need to remain in.) Anyway, I called the farmer we got Miss Reggie from, hoping he would have some insight into how to care for Pecky. Of course, he had nothing- I don't know why I thought he would, since I've seen how he "cares" for his animals. BUT- he remembered me, and he said, "Hey...you know, I've got five hens right now I've had to separate from my flock because they were being beaten...would you be interested?" What could I say? I loaded up my kids and a great big cage into the back of my truck, and away we went, on a rescue mission. In the span of an hour, we went from our little flock of 7, to an even dozen. These birds are so traumatized- they were in a commercial farming environment, and are clearly not ok. I tried to feed them some crackers, to gain their trust, and they acted like I was throwing fireballs at them. They don't know how to roost. One's wing is badly damaged. They stink. Ugh....
    Anyway, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed...and then, my father in law (who lives next door) informs me that he will no longer be buying feed for his 4 hens. Also, he has made no attempt to winterize his tiny portable coop, and has actually promised it to my niece, to use as a rabbit hutch. Basically, his hens will be hungry, cold, and homeless UNLESS...you guessed it. They're moving on into my coop. I can't stand suffering, and because of that, I've gone from 7 chickens to 15 in the course of 24 hours. (No, my math isn't off. I'm only taking 3 of his hens. 1 used to be mine, and I sent her away a long time ago for being a raging *****. She can go in the pot for all I care.)
    I'm just sitting here on the verge of tears, feeling totally overwhelmed, wondering how I'm going to keep them from killing each other. I feel sorry for my girls, who just had their world turned upside down. Why can't I ever say no?!
    I don't think there's much any of you can do to help- I just needed to vent, because none of my friends understand. The "Crazy Chicken Lady" jokes have already begun.
    Thank you for listening! I'm going to go start counting down the hours til it's an acceptable drinking time!

  2. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    You're just a soft-hearted chicken mama. No crime in that. Most of us are guilty.

    Try to reassure yourself that things probably won't be as bad as you expect. Believe it or not, chickens change, bad ones becoming well-behaved after a time, as well as other deciding to show some spunk that were previously shy.

    I think the first order of business would be to feed them. This will establish you as their best friend. Before putting out the feeders for the day, offer them crumbles from your hand calling to them, or whistling, your chosen signal for treats. After only a few days of this they learn the word or whistle means treats and they will come running, even the new, skittish ones. Try touching the new ones as they eat from your hand.

    After they become accustomed to being touched, move up to picking up and handling the new ones. This will enable you to give them baths, or tune up the crusty butts, if that's all that is dirty. Do this indoors if it's a very cold day, and blow dry them before letting them back outdoors.

    As for behavior problems, don't assume you will have many. Just cross that bridge when you come to it, and we'll be here to help.
    1 person likes this.
  3. Carrie31

    Carrie31 In the Brooder

    Jul 9, 2014
    Thank you, azygous. I'm just sitting here with tears in my eyes, as I read your response. I think I just needed someone to understand, and I knew I'd find that here. I'm just...I mean, how do you just decide to stop feeding your chickens? They had MONTHS to winterize their coop- but as usual, they knew my husband and I would pick up their slack, like we do in a WHOLE LOT of other areas. (That's a whole nother story!) They knew we'd have no choice but to take them, or watch them slowly starve and freeze. I hate being taken advantage of because they know we're softies.
    Anyway- the Chicken Farm Five don't look visibly dirty- they just smell. Like, we rode home with the windows down. I'm going to go out here in a bit and see if I can get them to eat from my hand. They are eating like CRAZY from the feeder, and have since their first minute here.
    The pen they were kept in had nowhere to roost, and no nesting boxes...I'm not sure how to show them what to do. I'm hoping instinct takes over, or they watch and learn from my girls!
  4. It sound like right now is the time for a drink. But, once that is done give yourself a big pat on the back and recognize that, as overwhelmed as you may feel, you have done a truly kind and compassionate thing. There are a bunch of chickens in your yard that can now begin the process of healing and becoming a true flock with structure, a safe place to live and a guarantee of decent food with occasional treats.

    Some people rescue dogs, others cats and others tropical birds. You rescue chickens. I don't see that as any less of a heroic act. You call it the battered women's coop...well, use that example of battered women in a rescue environment and know that things will not get better and/or perfect overnight. This will take time. Fortunately chickens seem to be, in my opinion, a lot more adept at adjusting than humans.

    Now, fix yourself a second drink and take a chair out and just sit and watch the good you have done. Oh, and by the way, your rewards will come.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2014
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by