Hen being ostracized after absence

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by SleepyMommy, Jul 11, 2019 at 5:02 PM.

  1. SleepyMommy

    SleepyMommy In the Brooder

    8
    48
    36
    Thursday
    Hi there! I've been using this website as a resource for the small flock of chickens I took over from my mother, but this is my first post.

    A couple weeks ago we thought one of the hens had been taken by a predator while free ranging during the day. Ten days later I found her trapped in a roll of wire fencing. (Miracle chicken!) After we cut her out she could barely stand and I was afraid the others were going to hurt her since she couldn't defend herself against any bullying, so I kept her in the house for two days until she decided she did not want to be in the box anymore. (I told my husband we may end up with a free range house chicken. He said no.) It has been four days since she went back into the coop with the others and they are still bullying her to the point she won't leave the coop. I thought maybe she was still just too tired to go out but when I set her out in the front yard away from the others she seemed happy to scratch around. Once the others realized she was there, back in the coop she ran. I also brought her to the feeder this morning in an attempt to entice her to walk around, but the top hen pecked at her right away and she ran back to the perch.

    What I am wondering is how long will this last? Will she be able to integrate back into the flock? I am worried she is not drinking or eating enough because she won't even leave the perch. I hand feed her in the morning and afternoon, but that is only a temporary solution. She won't get strong again if she isn't eating and drinking regularly. I also don't want my extra attention to further ostracize her.

    Thank you for your time.
     
    biophiliac and feathermaid like this.
  2. feathermaid

    feathermaid Egg Obsessed

    2,744
    20,185
    882
    Feb 5, 2018
    Northwest Oregon
    My Coop
    Any time a chicken leaves the flock for even a few days, the pecking order gets re-estaablished. It's almost like she's a stranger starting from scratch (excuse pun). It can take a few weeks to smooth out again.

    Some things you can do to help:
    Provide multiple feed and water stations, preferably with obstacles in between, to prevent guarding. Dog bowls or ceramic dishes will work temporarily, something heavy that not easily spilled.

    Provide additional perches, other obstacles or hiding spots (like chairs, a wheelbarrow, plywood leaning on a wall, etc) to break line of sight and discourage other hens from chasing her.

    You could also use a large dog crate or section off part of the coop to protect/separate either her, or the worst bully in particular.

    These links have more details:
    Introducing A Single Hen to an Existing Flock

    Chicken Bully/Chicken Victim
     
    SleepyMommy, aart, biophiliac and 3 others like this.
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    6,780
    5,698
    476
    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Instead of introducing her to the whole flock, try just one bird, a kind of middle of the flock bird. Or take the most aggressive biddy or two, and lock them up in dog crate.

    I hate separating birds, it causes a lot of problems, but I see why you did. Good luck.

    The ^^ post above, has very good points - hideouts, roosts, mini walls where a feed bowl can be hidden, those are all ways to get this to go.

    Mrs K
     
  4. SleepyMommy

    SleepyMommy In the Brooder

    8
    48
    36
    Thursday
    Thank you for all the suggestions. I don’t have a dog crate, but I can put up some obstacles and multiple feed stations. As long as they will eventually get used to her and she can eat and drink in the meantime, I think she will be ok. Thanks again!
     
    biophiliac and feathermaid like this.
  5. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Crowing

    4,666
    7,635
    482
    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    My Coop
    Obstacles and multiple feeders, etc. will help, though if she's being picked at too much you will need to figure out a way to protect her while letting the others see her, then slowly working her back in. A dog crate is an option but you could also make a "mini run" in an area the other chickens frequent using chicken wire, for example. Or some of us have small prefab coop/runs or outdoor brooders that can work the same way.

    In the future, if at all possible, keep birds being isolated/treated out where the others can see them. It takes out the need to reintegrate them to the flock.
     
  6. mkeawsh

    mkeawsh Woody Hollow

    429
    61
    191
    Sep 23, 2007
    Beaufort, MO
    Try chicken wiring off a part of the coop - if that is possible. They will see her but not get to her and she will feel more secure. Give it a week or so and they should get used to seeing her and not give her much notice when you incorporate her back into the flock. I've had to do it. The same way as incorporating young chickens into the flock.
     
    SleepyMommy and biophiliac like this.
  7. LittleMissCountry

    LittleMissCountry Songster

    1,018
    1,708
    196
    Mar 30, 2018
    Virginia
    I had to separate a chicken for a few weeks while treating it for bumblefoot. I had the same issue you are having. I ended up bringing her back in the house, and bringing another chicken in as well, for a few days. Then I moved them both outside in the portable run during the day, amd in the house at night for a few days. Then I started putting her back in the coop at night for a few days. When I finally had her back with the others, there was still one chicken that was vicious to her, drawing blood. I ended up bringing that chicken in for a few days. The others left the bullied chicken alone. Then when I brought the bully back in, she was too busy trying to reestablish pecking order to be a bully.
     
  8. SleepyMommy

    SleepyMommy In the Brooder

    8
    48
    36
    Thursday
    We found these gate pieces to make a little pen for her outside. When she’s in the coop, they don’t bother her too much and she actually roosts up in the rafters at her normal spot which is snug against three others of the flock. If this doesn’t help I will put the particularly mean hen in the pen instead and see what happens.

    Thank you guys for all the advice, it’s been really helpful especially since I adopted this flock just last month. If I had known what I do now, I would have taken measures to keep her in sight of the others. At the same time, I think this reintegration would still have been an issue since she was missing for 10 days previous to me bringing her in the house. I think things will be ok though. She’s so sweet and coos every time I visit with her.
     

    Attached Files:

    aart and rosemarythyme like this.
  9. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Crowing

    4,666
    7,635
    482
    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    My Coop
    That pen should work well for daytime usage, the others can see her easily and this way they can slowly reacclimate to being around her (and vice versa) until she's accepted back into the group. Good luck!
     
    mkeawsh and aart like this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: