Integrating a Rescue Bantam to my existing flock-ADVICE??

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by BayfrontHens, May 27, 2016.

  1. BayfrontHens

    BayfrontHens Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 9, 2015
    I know majority say it's impossible, but I'm clinging to the few success stories out there! I rescued a mature bantam Cochin from my hospital's parking lot about 6 weeks ago. No one on my local Backyard chicken sites claimed her & left to her own she wouldnt have lived with all the stray/wild cats in the area. I've completed the 4.5 weeks quarantine, currently have her in my little coop & run right along side my big coop & run. My existing flock (1 RIR, 1 barred rock, 2 Americaunas, 2 leghorns) have been able to see her but no access for a week now. I have done two free range supervised "play dates". The bantam is surprisingly brave & desperately wants to "play" with the others. I'm using water hose to break up any fights that lasts longer than I can stand. The bantam has no fear going straight into the main coop & eating their food, climbing on their logs I have in there, but she does end up getting chased around & I intervene. So far only 2-3 feathers lost, no blood, & she's actually chased off my RIR. It's stressful & Im afraid 1) if I ever leave her alone with the others she will be killed & 2) she's going to spend her life getting chased. I'm very attached to this little bantam & open to any advice from y'all!! Willing to take as long as necessary to integrate her safely!! ADVICE??
     
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Honestly, I think you'd be better off putting her in and walking away for a bit. It seems she can hold her own pretty well.
     
  3. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Hey there BayfrontHens

    First up, good on you for rescuing the little girl!

    While not an expert on integration, I have had a little experience introducing a new, single bantam hen to an existing bantam flock and also integrating broody hens and their chicks back into the flock. I definitely do not say it is impossible.

    The look, don’t touch method you are using and supervised free range has always worked well for me.

    Unless she makes a push to move up the pecking order, the bantam will probably always be bottom of the ladder and subject to some degree of bullying but I honestly believe if you persevere with your current method, she will be accepted.

    I have found a water pistol to be easier than the hose. I sit in the garden with them and anyone looking to be a bully on the newbie gets a squirt to deter them; it gets to the stage that you only have to point it at them and they think twice about what they were going to do and wander off in the other direction [​IMG]

    A lot also depends on their chickenality .. I have a spunky little Frizzle who, after quarantine, I introduced to the flock and she desperately wanted to play and while she took a couple of pecks here and there, pretty much kept going back and said “I am here, I am staying, get over it!”

    Me, personally, I could not put in a newbie and walk away because I could never forgive myself if she was injured.

    Something else I have done is to let the newbie out for a supervised free range but leave the existing flock in the run. Granted they do not like that and appeal ‘how come she is out there and we are not!’ but it gives the flock a chance to see that the newbie is part of the garden and she gets to seek out all the good hidey spots without being picked on.

    Do you have one hen who is may be not such a bully as the others? Could you put that hen with the bantam so that they could buddy up and then, when they are free ranging, the bantam will have someone to aid her hopes to join the flock?

    My gals love their daily treat of a couple of live meal worms each and all gather around the blue ice cream bucket when it comes out .. no one cares about anything but that bucket and the worms inside .. treats are a good tool to take everyone's mind off the stranger in their midst.

    I find patience, time and space are the best aids with integration and would give the supervised free range but separation when in confined space a bit longer. If you can, I would make the supervised “play dates” a daily occurrence at a similar time .. chickens love routine and this could help with her being accepted.

    Good luck with her .. I would love to hear how you go and wonder if you have a picture of her?
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2016
  4. BayfrontHens

    BayfrontHens Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank-you both! She does seem to have that "here I am deal with it" chickenality [​IMG]. I'm too much of a baby to walk off & leave her lol
    My concern is consistency-with my work I'm often gone before daylight & not home until well after dark. I'm also out of the country for 2 weeks end of June. (Apprehensive about integrating her & leaving her to fend for herself, but perhaps another three weeks will be enough for her to sort things out!?) I will say she tried moving up the pecking order on first encounter-my RIR steers clear of her. The RIR is actually who I could try to "buddy" her up with.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2016
  5. BayfrontHens

    BayfrontHens Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 9, 2015
    [​IMG]

    This is rescue day at the hospital
     
  6. BayfrontHens

    BayfrontHens Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 9, 2015
    [​IMG]

    This is her giving me love after her "play date" today...you can see why I'm attached??!![​IMG]
     
  7. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Aaaaw, what a sweetie!

    I think 3 weeks of supervised integration when you can will be enough time to know if you are safe leaving her for 2 weeks.

    Me, I would continue with the ‘play dates’ until a week before you go, unless they go really well and she is accepted before then.

    Then, I would use that last week to make a full on effort to get her accepted and may be put them all in together and sit outside with that water pistol [​IMG]

    At least then you will have a week to know that she is holding her own before you go away.

    I have a couple of Bantam Cochins [they are called Pekins here in Aus] and yep, they are such special little girls [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2016
  8. BayfrontHens

    BayfrontHens Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks so much again-I always get good advice & encouragement here!! I'll post an update on how it goes [​IMG]
     
  9. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    I should probably clarify that I would not just up and leave after putting a new chicken in with the others without checking in on things now and then, and definitely not if it looked like serious injury would occur. I am more of a hands-off chicken keeper, though. I feel that they need to work things out as chickens do, and if I'm constantly breaking things up, I'm slowing down the process. As others have said, they know more about being chickens than I do. And frankly, chicken society can get ugly.
     
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  10. BayfrontHens

    BayfrontHens Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 9, 2015
    Little Girl has started to lose some of her tenacity. She still comes out to the yard where the others are, she still waddles into their coop & run, but she easily shies away during treat time if a few of the others even look at her. I have 4 hens that scare her & will still make a grab for her if she's close, but I have 2 hens that she actually makes run away. I've done free range play dates every day this week, 2 hours this morning. She will go into their run & I sit inside & just observe, she gets chased out so I'm still concerned the results of putting her in without the door open to escape.
    I'm merging both of your advice & trying to be more hands off as I observe. I have left them together in the yard for a few minutes. No harm done. So maybe it's going better than I think???
    I'm trying the other tactic starting today-I put one of the more intimidated hens in the separate coop/run with Little Girl. Hoping they will get used to each other & become buddies....lol this is still stessful!!!
     

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