Hen roosting with juvaniles?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by PaisyQ, Oct 20, 2014.

  1. PaisyQ

    PaisyQ Chillin' With My Peeps

    202
    14
    98
    Apr 9, 2013
    SW Michigan
    My two oldest hens are about 20 months old. They live in the big coop with my rooster and 5 other hens, all of whom are between 10 and 6 months old. I also have 5 14 week old chicks, who live in the small a-frame coop. When I'm home, everyone free-ranges, and though they tend to stay seperate, the doors to both coops are open, so anyone can get at food, water, nest boxes, etc.

    Two nights ago when I went to lock everyone up, one of the older hens was missing. I near paniced, but upon checking the smaller coop, I found her roosting in with the 'babies'. They were trying to stay as far from her as they could, but she didn't seem to be trying to bother them. Same thing happened again last night. Both nights I put her back in the big coop.

    Is this normal? Should I maybe let her stay with the youngsters? The small coop is only 12 feet square, so a little small for everyone as it is. The run attached to the small coop is 50 feet square. I'm a little worried she might try to hurt the babies, especially since I won't be around to monitor during the day.
     
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    28,907
    119
    408
    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    I'm not saying you should or shouldn't, but if it were me I would let her do her thing. Was she low ranking in the older birds flock? That may be the reason she's chosen to join the other.

    It all comes down to knowing your birds. I moved two 14 week old juveniles in with my nearly seven year old hens the other day. I knew that the old hens couldn't care less about new coopmates and they haven't. No more than a "know your place youngin'" peck has occurred. The only problem I've experienced is the juvie rooster being scared of his own shadow. He's manged to overcome it enough to get down from a roost to eat and drink and will get over his fear of the old hens sooner or later. So that's what it comes down to - knowing your hen and whether she is likely to turn aggressive with the chicks or not.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. PaisyQ

    PaisyQ Chillin' With My Peeps

    202
    14
    98
    Apr 9, 2013
    SW Michigan
    I've a bit of difficulting figuring out pecking order. She's not at the bottom, but she may be near the bottom. Also just realized she and the other 20 month old are finally in molt. May have another issue now; looks like they are both having their feathers picked at. The other hen has it worse; I think I'm going to have to put her in solitary to allow her some peace. And if the original hen wants to roost with the youngsters, I think I'm going to cross my fingers and let her. She really doesn't seem to bother them; I'm just more concerned because they are not usually confined together.
     
  4. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    28,907
    119
    408
    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    My husband has stated on more than one occasion that I spend way too much time observing my chickens, but I find their behaviors fascinating. I can pretty much tell where everyone ranks.
    I recently had a pecking incident, more of a bullying incident. A couple days of being isolated from the flock fixed that bird's attitude in a hurry.

    Good luck.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    34,519
    7,734
    596
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Are they bleeding?
    Sometimes the new 'blood' feathers can be picked at and start a cannibalistic buffet...sometimes they'll just get bumped or tread on by the roo and bleed a bit, I've had this happen without the cannibal part and just let them be and they were fine.
    If they are being actively picked on by a particular bully, might want to segregate the bully rather than the victim(s).
     
  6. PaisyQ

    PaisyQ Chillin' With My Peeps

    202
    14
    98
    Apr 9, 2013
    SW Michigan
    Yes, the one hen is bleeding. Not sure, I think it may have started with the roo, but the girl in question wears a hen saddle, and there is quite a large corner of the hen saddle that has been bled upon. I caught one of the younger hens going after the bloody area, so I think I may know who the main culprit is. Both the older girls are usually chummy with me, but neither of them wants me touching them right now. And both girls decided to roost in the babie's coop last night. I let them; moved the babies down this morning into the run, gave both food and water, and keeping my fingers crossed that everything is okay when I get home from work today.
     
  7. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    28,907
    119
    408
    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    If you have a chicken that is bloody, not simply looking unkempt from being pecked at but truly bloody, that chicken needs to be isolated for its own good. Chickens can kill another by pecking at blood.
     
  8. PaisyQ

    PaisyQ Chillin' With My Peeps

    202
    14
    98
    Apr 9, 2013
    SW Michigan
    I seperated the two that are molting together. The gal who is not bleeding has shown no sign of wanting to peck, and they both seem happier with the company, so I'm watching them for now, and letting them have eachother. The bleeding stopped on the one who was having problems with that, and I was able to get a better look at things. Not a perfect look, but better. I am pretty sure the blood is coming from broken feathers only, and there is no wound to her flesh. I'm also thinking it may be the rooster's fault more than someone pecking at her. Is that possible? Still seems like a lot of bleeding to me, but this is my first time with molting hens. I also let both of them out to free range by themselves this afternoon; they both made straight for the babie's coop; they couldn't get in, but that seems to be where they want to be. Still not sure what to think about that.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    34,519
    7,734
    596
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Pin (blood) feathers can bleed pretty easily(and badly) if broken, as long as it stops bleeding and it's not being picked at it should be OK.
    If it keeps bleeding, it should be fully plucked out with tweezers, that will stop the bleeding and another feather will grow in it's place.
    Had to do the pluck a couple times with a young cockerel this spring...but have ahd older bird slightly bleed from broken pins that healed up on it's own.
     
  10. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    28,907
    119
    408
    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by