Integrating New Pullet into Existing Flock: Pullet has Special Needs

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ErikH, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. ErikH

    ErikH New Egg

    Sep 26, 2012
    Here iis the situation:  I have four hens in my San Francisco backyard, which include a Silkie, a Polish, a bantam Americuana, and a frizzled Cochin.  I was recently contacted by a local chicken seller.  He wanted to know if I was interested in adopting a very endearing "runt" Silkie pullet.  I did adopt the itty bitty chicken and named her Dolly. 

    Well, Dolly  is unusual in that she is highly dependent upon the constant companionship of humans.  As you may know,  Silkie chickens can be very docile and friendly.  However, Dolly seems to think I am her mother.  Since she is four/five months old, this is unusual behavior, as chicks have separated from their mothers by this time.  

    Dolly is much too tiny and young to integrate with the other hens yet, so I have been letting her run around the backyard.  She prefers to stay nearby me, and after pecking around and scratching for a while, then looks up at me.  She wants to be held and cuddled.   If I go into the house to get coffee or something, she freaks out.  And she follows me too! 

    This odd behavior led me to do some online research.  

    There is a phenomenon that can occur with some birds, such as chicks, ducklings, and goslings (and in some animal species too) called "imprinting."  Apparently, some baby birds will form a lifelong bond and preference for another species, such as humans, dogs, cats etc.  I think that Dolly may have imprinted on a human (perhaps a human male) early in life.

    MY QUESTION is:  Any tips for integrating a tiny Silkie pullet, who may be "imprinted" into the existing flock?

  2. Hennyhandler

    Hennyhandler SilkieJax

    Jun 10, 2009
    I have heard of imprinting which is so sweet by the way but I don't know for sure how to integrate her. Maybe you could get her a friend so while she is with you she can get used to the other bird. Then maybe she will grow an attachment to her friend and then you could introduce the two together to your flock. This way she won't be overwhelmed and it is better to introduce more than one at a time so she will not be picked on as much. Power in numbers and all that. [​IMG]
    I am not for sure but it's an idea.
  3. brtova

    brtova New Egg

    Jan 25, 2011
    Hi ErikH,

    I built myself a smaller coop that opens on to the main coop's yard. It doesn't have to be big or fancy, just the basics. Any "special needs" chickens go in there for transitioning. (I also use this when one or more hens are at the bottom of the pecking order and keep being picked on).

    After a few days, I crack the door open (remember it opens directly on to the regular pen) a little more every other day or so , so that they can see each other but not pick on the newby. Eventually, when the newbies are feel comfortable enough, they push the door open and squeeze through. This is a sliding door.

    When I first started fooling around with chickens, we had this chicken that wanted to sit on your lap and be petted. Now that was so sweet.......................but after awhile everyone gets tired of this or has other human friends they would much rather spend their time with. We cured her by us all losing interest in being her "special" friend and she quit doing it.

    I also once had a big goose who "imprinted" on me and would viciously attack anyone who came near me. It was very painful for my friends.

    You will of course choose actions that suit your comfort level. Some people get caught up in being "one with" the chickens, others don't have any trouble walking away.

    One thing is for sure, if you keep rewarding her for her behavior, she AIN'T going to quit on her own! I guess you have to decide who is the adult in the situation. :^)

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by