Help with multiple issues, but one in particular (adding a hen)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by fishiac, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. fishiac

    fishiac New Egg

    Feb 27, 2013

    First time poster on here, so please take it easy on me if I have posted this in the wrong area.

    First of all, we are first time owners of chickens. We live in Auckland, New Zealand purchased two 12 month old hens (Brown Shavers) about on month ago. Unfortunately one of them became sick last week, and despite taking it to the vet (we didn't have the heart to simply leave it to its own devices or try something else), it passed away today.

    There are a few things bothering me at the moment. It seems as if the sick hen had been feather picked quite nastily by the healthier hen. We only noticed this yesterday when we were handling the sick hen. We do not know if this attributed to its death.

    If we add another hen, how do we prevent the feather picking from happening again? I've only seen tips on here concerning a flock with more than 2 hens (ie, isolate the offending hen in hope that it falls down the pecking order??) I'm unsure if this will work since there are only two, and I have heard that keeping individual hens is cruel.

    Also, I have built our own coop and run. Now the coop is an old kennel, about 3 feet by 3 feet. The run itself is more than 6 feet by about 3-4 feet. It's a triangular tractor style run. Is this too small? Especially after this experience I feel we have neglected them in some way, maybe because the run is too small? Could we even fit 3 hens here?

    Sometimes (when they usually spotted us) they did seem to pace back and forth at the edge of the run :(

    They always ate alot and laid eggs with no problem however, which I've hear dis one good sign of health and happiness. We make sure their water is clean, their food is topped up, they get treats as well when we can to keep them occupied.

    I dont know what we may be doing wrong, I really don't want to be unwittingly mistreating our hens.

    Any tips would be really great guys, this site has been such a help so far!


  2. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 11, 2011
    Its possible that the feather picking started after the hen wasn't feeling well. I've seen my own birds gang up on an ill flock mate, like they were trying to drive her off (which would make sense, if they were a flock in the wild a sick bird would make predators more likely to find them). If your remaining hen is a feather picker, you could purchase some pinless peepers to see if they curb her picking problem. Sometimes plucking is simply a by product of boredom though, and is easily solved by a hanging head of cabbage/lettuce or a flock block.
    Your coop and run should provide them with plenty of room (the general rule of thumb around here is 4sq ft inside and 10 outside, but IMO, you can get by with less- more so if you free range), especially if they stay out of the coop most of the time. I might even add 2 more hens, 2 that are already bonded and that would help put your bully in her place as she'd be the one working to join their little flock. Good luck, don't beat yourself up. Most of us had to figure out the chicken game by trial and error. It doesn't make ut any easier when you loose one, but you just learn and move on :)
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
  3. fishiac

    fishiac New Egg

    Feb 27, 2013
    Thanks howfunkyisurchicken,

    Really appreciate the tips :)

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