Help with what I call "rescue chickens"

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by [email protected], Oct 20, 2011.


    [email protected] New Egg

    Oct 20, 2011
    Hello, I have built a new 10X12 foot chicken coop. I live in Anchorage Alaska and it is well insulated and heated with big windows and lights and a timer setup. I started on this adventure when 3 healthy hens and two roos were dumped on the 10 acre horse stable I help with. The coop was built with all free stuff. Wood Shipping pallets, free insulation and siding and windows found on Craigslist. The labor was long and the chickens roosted in the surrounding trees each night as they watched me build the coop. They seemed to know from the start the coop would be for them. There is also a 12X30 chicken run alonside the coop. I built a feeder and set up drip nipples and covered the floor with deep litter and put a catch under the roost to catch the majority of the droppings and make it easy to clean. Things have gone pretty well and one of the hens has recently deposited two eggs in one of the nests on the same day I finished the coop. I knew I was going to add more hens when the coop was completed and I found some on craigslist. They were young at about 16 weeks old and seem pretty small for their age. The conditions they were living in were horrible in my opinion. There were about five hundred or so of these young pullets milling about in an underlit barn, minimal insulation, no nest boxes, dirty poop fouled watering trays and no obvious feed in the feeders. The floor looked as if it had never ever been cleaned with a horrible smell of amonia. The worst part was the hens had been de-beaked and it looks to me like who ever did it was not careful at all. Some seemed to have no beaks at all. I purchased 30 of these retched creatures and put them in feed bags with four inch square air holes in them and toted them home and put them in my coop. It has taken several days to get them used to the water nipples and they eat well enough and the dry litter on the floor of my coop seems to have helped to dry their feathers and they seem much cleaner now, but they don't know how to roost or when to do it. When the sun goes down they moan like they are in pain. I pick them up and place them on the roosts and they quiet right down. I leave the pop door to the outdoor run open all the time but these new pullets will not go outside. They just stare out blankly. The five original chickens have full beaks and are wicked mean to the younger smaller hens and since the newly introduced pullets dont have beaks they can not defend themselves. I find it mean to debeak the original 5 and I don't want to cull them but I don't know what to do to make these chickens get along. Will they eventually become used to each other? Will they actually kill the newbies? The abused pullets don't seem to know how to be a chicken yet. When I walk into the coop several of the abused chickens fly up and land on my shoulder or head as if asking for help. Some of them seem very friendly, or am I just reading too much into the dumb clucks actions. I could use some advise. I know the new chickens are called golden comets, and I think two of the original chickens are called rhode Island reds. But I don't have any idea what the roos are. Here is a photo of one of the hens that flys into my arms when I come into the coop. Does this seem like the beak is just too short to anybody else?

    Last edited: Oct 20, 2011
  2. ThePamperedPullet

    ThePamperedPullet Chillin' With My Peeps

    First off, Welcome to BYC
    Second, congratulations on your new coop and entering the wonderful world of chickens
    Third, you need to be commended for rescuing these birds.
    Now on to your questions
    It would be much easier on all if you could some way divide your chicken area so that the old and the new are seperated by just chicken wire so that they can interact but not cause damage to each other. This only has to be temporary. All the new bird that you got have invaded the space of the originals and so there will be fighting amongst them. The larger and older birds could possibly kill a few of the new ones before it is all over. The temporary fence between them could be removed after they start ignoring each other and get along better.
    The rescue chickens are going to be confused for a few days until they get used to their new surroundings. You have taken them from what they knew and put them into brand new, much better conditions. It would be like you traveling to a foreign country, it would take you a few days to figure out how to best get around.
    Chickens are very social animals and they enjoy human contact. They do understand that you are trying to help them.
    As for the damage done to these birds and the living conditions they were under, obviously this person had no clue as to how to take care of birds. First, you never clip both the top and bottom beak. If you have to clip beaks at all then the living conditions of the birds is not right in the first place. This person really needs to be turned in to animal control for cruelty to animals. Depending on how badly clipped the beaks are, some may grow back to some extent. Obviously their weight and size has been stunted because of their previous living conditions. It may be easier for the new ones to eat if you can give them a wet mash instead of dry food. You will probably want to worm all of them and make sure they do not have parasites like mites and lice. You will have a challenge with these new birds but with care they could go on to be great birds for you.
    Keep us posted
  3. greymane

    greymane Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 2, 2011
    Snyder County, PA
    [​IMG] from the Finger Lakes of New York! So glad to have you aboard. Best of luck with the new coop and chickens, and thank you for helping these animals!
  4. NonnasBabies

    NonnasBabies Muddy Acre Farms Premium Member

    Sep 20, 2009
    On the Farm!
    Welcome!! [​IMG] ThePamperedPullet gave you lost of grest information so I really can't add to it. Just wanted to say that's awsome of you for rescuing them and yes you did rescue them!! [​IMG]
  5. kidcody

    kidcody Overrun With Chickens

    [​IMG] [​IMG] from WA. glad you joined us [​IMG] [​IMG]
  6. SilkieBantams

    SilkieBantams Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 23, 2011
    Houston, TX
    [​IMG] from Texas and thank you for helping out these poor abused hens. They never feel the warmth of the sun on their backs and they've never been outside in their lives as they've been living in an area with no fresh air, no warmth of the sun and have never felt the grass and earth's soft ground underneath their feet.
  7. weimarmama

    weimarmama Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 4, 2010
    My Coop
    [​IMG] & [​IMG] from Alabama. Glad you joined us.
  8. ChickInDelight

    ChickInDelight Never an Empty Nest

    Apr 27, 2011
    Browntown, VA
    You will get tons of support here for your rescues as well as your healthies. [​IMG]
  9. OvertheHenHouse

    OvertheHenHouse Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 12, 2011
    San Diego
    Welcome to BYC! You will find tons of great information and a lot of good friends here. You're so wonderful to take in these chickens. What PamperedPullet said - and you should be off to a great start. And please do report this person to animal control - what s/he is doing is inhumane. I'm glad you were able to take as many as you did!
  10. kharakter

    kharakter New Egg

    Oct 20, 2011
    So glad you had the heart to rescue those poor little pullets. I don't know of anymore info to give you that you haven't received. There is an organic egg lady in the Santa Cruz, Ca area and I linked to her site once while surfing the web. She had some information on her site about rescuing poultry house hens and many are debeaked and she had some advice for rehab and feeding. I will try and find her again and if I do will repost the links. Good luck with your little flock![​IMG]

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