How do you reconcile timid birds with the flock?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Firefoot, Oct 20, 2018.

  1. Firefoot

    Firefoot Chirping

    83
    178
    81
    Jul 8, 2018
    I have two birds that are just so super timid. They are lovely little Ameraucanas, about 30 weeks or so, in a mixed flock of 8 ranging from 20 weeks to 18 months. They've all been free-ranging together since August, have been sharing a fenceline since June, and have been sharing the run and coop for a few weeks now, but I think they're getting picked on. They spend a lot of time in their coop. They are also the only ones that the baby roo is trying to breed yet (though I'm sure the others are close behind, he is only just starting to become rooster-y).

    What kinds of things do you put in your run to make timid birds feel safer? What kinds of hiding places or toys or other distractions? I'm thinking of closing off the big girls for part of the day to let the Ameraucana's be with their flock unmolested (the 3 older birds can be real assholes sometimes). What else can I do to help them?
     
    Callender Girl likes this.
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician

    77,128
    65,027
    1,507
    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Removal of the cockerel plus what you have suggested until they have matured. I'd put the cockerel with the older hens so that they could educate him in proper courtship etiquette.
     
  3. Firefoot

    Firefoot Chirping

    83
    178
    81
    Jul 8, 2018
    I can't remove or separate them permanently but I could separate them for part of the day. I just have to fix the door that separates the runs. I'll try it tomorrow!

    Any recommendations for hidey things?
     
    JedJackson likes this.
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Making Coffee

    28,355
    30,244
    1,052
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Low tables where they can get up on or under. Pallets leaned against the walls. Perches. I have a stock tank where birds have used to hide out in.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    50,386
    30,286
    1,172
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Is cockerel 20 weeks old too....and is he also 'hiding' in coop?
    How big is your coop and run, in feet by feet?
    Dimensions and pics and total birds with ages will all help.

    Click on pic and use arrows for more pics.
    [​IMG]
     
    JedJackson and Firefoot like this.
  6. Firefoot

    Firefoot Chirping

    83
    178
    81
    Jul 8, 2018
    Ohh thanks I got some good ideas from your pics! So, from youngest to oldest:

    21 week old EE cockerel
    21 week old EE pullet
    24 week old Speckled Sussex pullet
    26-30 week old Ameraucana pullet x 2 (when I got them, the woman said they were "about" 14 weeks, but I'm erring on the low side)
    18 month old RIR, BR, and SLW

    They have a 4x6 Dutch-style Amish-made coop and a 10x40 run. They free range from about noon til sunset daily. The run can be closed in half (I need to fix the door to do this) but then whoever is in the second half doesn't have access to the coop if they need to lay. So if I did that, I guess I'd put some laying boxes out in that part of the run? Oh and no, the cockerel is out and about with everyone else practicing his crow. Only the two Ameraucanas, Pancake and Toast, stay in the coop.
     
    JedJackson likes this.
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    5,945
    3,632
    436
    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    When you go into your run, take a look and see if you can see all the birds at once. If so, it is not cluttered enough. I like mini walls, and multiple feed bowls, along with the suggestions above. Places where a bird can stand out of sight of the other birds.

    But I will also throw this out there, sometimes there is a bird or pair of birds that are just not a good fit for the current flock. A constant victim in the flock can be a sign that it is just one bird too many, or one bird too mean. Always solve for the peace of the flock, sometimes culling some birds is the best answer.

    Wishing they would all be nice does not work. 4x 6 coop may just not be big enough. Free ranging cannot make up for too small of coop. Especially going into the long dark nights of winter when here in SD my birds spend close to 14-16 hours in the coop roosted up.

    Mrs K
     
    JedJackson likes this.
  8. JedJackson

    JedJackson Free Ranging

    3,267
    6,688
    561
    Jul 6, 2016
    If they are 30 weeks old, then they are old enough to mate. I wouldn't worry about the cockerel unless he is drawing blood or purposely hurting them.

    As for their interactions with the other pullets, I would say give them some time and space. I wouldn't intervene unless blood is drawn or the girls are not letting up in attacking them. Aart's picture is great for showing what you want in the run to give them places to escape. You also need to make sure they are getting food and water-- a second set of feeder/waterer can be just the ticket.

    Hopefully the pecking order will soon be decided and things will calm down. Once they do, the two picked on girls will probably start venturing out with the rest of the flock. I think they are just too nervous to do it now, and forcing them out will make matters worse.
     
    Firefoot likes this.
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    50,386
    30,286
    1,172
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Were the younger birds added to the 3 oldest ones all at the same time?
    If not, what was the timeline to adding the younger birds?

    If the cockerel is the main 'bully' on the Am's,
    I'd put him in the partitioned off run area,
    at least during most the days to give the timid ones a break.

    Coop's a bit tight for 8 birds, run should be fine with some 'diversions' added.
     
    Firefoot likes this.
  10. Firefoot

    Firefoot Chirping

    83
    178
    81
    Jul 8, 2018
    I got the 3 older birds last year. This mid-June I got the younger birds (5). The younger birds lived in one half of the run (it was built as two separate runs) and the big birds lived in the other half, so they have shared a fence line since June-ish. Starting mid-August they alternated free-ranging for a couple weeks and then began being out together at the same time, though they didn't really stick together. Nobody was rude, but the 3 big girls would go off and do their own thing. A few weeks ago I open up the run though I think they still stayed in separate coops for a little bit. They've been sharing a coop for about 1.5-2 weeks now (I barely know what day it is).

    The cockerel is NOT a bully by any means, but he's not trying to mate anyone else yet. None of the older birds are unnecessarily rude, either. The most I've seen them do a little peck on the butt to get somebody to move, occasionally the BR will give one a little chase but in the time I observe them, I don't see anything worrisome. But Pancake and Toast seem to internalize everything. There are two feeders and two waterers, one on either end of the run, and several chairs, a little table, some huge branches hung from the roof/attached to the wall, and a big tree stump, but I'll try to add more hidey things closer to the ground to break up lines of sight.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: