Injured chicken new to flock and LOTS of drama!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by EllenPos, Nov 9, 2015.

  1. EllenPos

    EllenPos New Egg

    Nov 9, 2015
    Hi all,

    We are new to chickens, taking in two hens from a friend this summer. My son works on a farm and brought home a chicken whose feet were severely injured (caught in a pig feeder). She has been with us a couple of weeks now, and I've determined that the only semi-functional toes she has are the two inside toes and one of her rear toes.

    She has gone from not really walking at all to wobbling around as necessary (although I don't think she will ever be able to do the ladder). She was in a tub in the garage until a few days ago, when I started to put her in the coop at night. The other hens had seen her in the yard and would peck at her and chase her away, so I was hesitant to put her in there, but she can't stay in the garage forever and it is getting cold here (in Northern Illinois).

    Things are not better with the other hens. They bully her, jump on her and peck at her if I'm not there to protect her, whether she is in the yard or in the coop. She sleeps in the coop, where they all come together at dusk, and I go out early in the morning to intervene. I am trying to keep them separated, splitting time between being "upstairs" in the coop and being "downstairs" or in the yard. But as it gets colder and eventually snowy, I know this approach isn't going to last. So I have a few questions.

    1. Is there any hope that these hens will accept her? Will they get used to her if I continue to keep them together?
    2. If I give the hens back to the original owner, will my injured hen survive the winter alone? Is she better off to have mean company than no company at all?
    3. If we get new chicks in the spring, will they follow the lead of the other hens and just gang up on her, too, or is there hope that they will be friends? Are my chances better if the other hens are gone before getting new chicks?

    This poor little girl is breaking my heart. She is incredibly sweet, will just let me hold her and pet her endlessly, but she is definitely not thriving, and I can't spend hours a day looking over her. She only eats and drinks when I bring her to it and she feels safe. In the yard, she grazes a bit and then finds a hosta or bush or something to bury herself in and hide.

    Any help, insight, support would be so appreciated. I am totally perplexed and want to do what's best for this sweet thing!
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I don't think this is going to be successful. Bad feet make it very difficult for a bird to get to water or food, and to move away from higher order birds. They take this as an insult, and peck her.

    Chicken flocks are not real nice. They are the epitome of survival of the fittest. The crazy part is, if you remove the other pair, nurse her through the winter and put chicks with her, she will probably be mean to the chicks, if any get close to her.

    Personally, I think I would put her down, not probably what you want to hear, but I don't see her making it in a flock at all, and if she is only eating when your bring it to her, I would doubt she is eating enough, she may just pass away. Often times if a bird appears to like to be held and petted, they really can be just to weak to protest.

    Maybe others will be more optimistic.

    Mrs. K
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2015
    3 people like this.
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Shazam Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I'm going to have to agree with Mrs. K, I would certainly not leave her with the flock, chickens will sometimes peck to death any injured or unwell bird, the only possible solution would be a permanent separation pen within your coop or next to it. I do think the best thing is to cull or find a vet who will put her down, unfortunately that's all a part of chicken keeping, making hard decisions, none of us like it, but we all have to do it more often than we like.
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    I agree with this.

    I think your only other option is to make her a house chicken, if you're so inclined to continue to care for a special needs animal.
  5. Rainekitty

    Rainekitty Out Of The Brooder

    May 11, 2014
    So, I have a similar situation, with a one-eyed chicken who is extremely timid and everyone picks on. I had to separate her from her original flock because she was being bullied to death. I moved her to another coop with 8 Marans chicks. I think they were 10-12 weeks old at the time. They didn't bully her, but now that they're about 6 months old, she's spending all her time hiding in the coop because the roosters are randy. I'm processing all but one roo this weekend and then I hope she'll be okay with this flock (5 hens and one roo). She's not *friends* with them, per se, but they don't usually make her bleed, either. I've actually tried contacting several local farm animal sanctuaries to see if they'd be willing to take her, but never even received a response from any of them. Like you, I don't want to process her because she's very sweet and too skinny to eat, anyway. I do put food and water in the coop (or in her another of her 'safe' spaces, because otherwise she'd starve to death. She gets picked on too much to make it to the regular feeders.
  6. EllenPos

    EllenPos New Egg

    Nov 9, 2015
    Thank you ALL for your honest responses. I am not surprised by the advice to cull her. I just don't think that's an option for me.

    Rainekitty, I really appreciate hearing your story as well. I am starting to get savvier every day, observing when and where the problems seem to be happening. I gave her a separate feed dish today, as the others are certainly protective of the large feeder (although she never goes near it, but when they are in the coop eating, they make sure she stays away). I am pondering some ways to section off the coop so that they can coexist without direct contact. It is a small coop, but I think I can make that work.

    I think if they really wanted to kill her, they would have done so already. They have not drawn blood. Sometimes they just jump on her (she is pretty small by comparison). She is definitely bony -- she came to me that way, having lived with this injury at the farm for a week or so before my son brought her home. Doing my best to nurse her back to some level of health and hoping she can live a semi-normal life. If she doesn't make it, at least I can say I tried!

    All I wanted was a few fresh scrambled eggs...little did I know how these critters would take over my life! Ha ha!

    Thanks again for taking the time to respond. This site is an absolute blessing for those of us who have no clue what we're doing.
  7. lomine

    lomine Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 7, 2015
    Peyton, CO
  8. EllenPos

    EllenPos New Egg

    Nov 9, 2015
    Thank you! I actually already did try those. I think it did help cushion her feet for a few days while she was healing, but she was so clumsy trying to walk in them and they were tricky to get on because her toes are so mangled. I even made little popsicle-stick splints to put inside them, but it didn't help her walk. She is figuring it out. She flaps her wings to help propel herself!
  9. Chicken girl 15

    Chicken girl 15 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 28, 2015
    harpursville ny
    that is an awesome product. I will be ordering 2 pairs after Christmas (I have 5 kids so until then $ is tight) . I currently have no injuries to the flock but that is something I need on hand in case.
  10. EllenPos

    EllenPos New Egg

    Nov 9, 2015
    Just wanted to offer an update in case anyone else comes along in a similar situation. We've had the injured chicken more than a month now and we are getting into a routine. She spends the day in a nesting box with food and water and chicken wire in front of it to keep the other hens from pecking at her although they can still see each other. When the weather is nice, they are all in the yard. She sometimes gets chased, and then she hides, but the other hens seem to mainly want to "contain" her rather than kill her. They like to remind her who is boss.

    At dusk, I put her up on about a 6-inch wide shelf because her feet are too mangled to be able to roost properly. But this puts her on the same level as the other two. I move her food and water up to the shelf for her, but don't put any barrier between her and the other hens. They leave her alone until morning.

    When the sun comes up, I go out and move her, and so it goes. So far so good. She is less nervous than she was.

    Still, no one is laying eggs. The other two started molting the day after she arrived. Feathers seem to be filling in now, so I hope they will start laying again eventually! It will be interesting to see if the injured one ever lays. But she's sweet, so for now, she's staying!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by