Integrating our new hen - not going well!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by caralouise1974, Feb 28, 2009.

  1. caralouise1974

    caralouise1974 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Since removing our feather-eating-almost-cannibal buff orpington and swapping her for a lovely sweet little 15 week old warren (Audrey) at the beginning of the week, we've been having terrible troubles with bullying.

    The existing hens (another buff orp, Henrietta - 19 weeks old; and a bluebelle, Bella - 23 weeks old (she just started laying this week)) have mercilessly picked on her, pulling out feathers, trying to rip her wings, chasing and generally being vile to her. In the end, we've sectioned off a small area at the end of the run with bamboo canes in order that she has her own space, but through which they can still see her and give her the odd peck (which they invariably do). We free range all the girls together most days and she sensibly runs away whenever she sees the other two approaching - and they don't actually bother chasing her as long as she stays out of their faces.

    We also have to wait until the ther girls are in bed at night and settled before sneaking her into the side of the coop, popping her on a perch and quickly plunging the house back into darkness. We tried letting them sort it out between them, but the bluebelle endlessly chases her out every time she tries to get into the coop to roost and we felt so terribly sorry for her every evening.

    It's a hell of a palaver, getting them shepherded and separated into the two run areas in the morning and then all to bed quietly in the evening, especially as we both work full time and I'm six months pregnant (and exhausted)!

    So, we've ordered a new coop and run, to give us some options. Here's the thing: how to we play this? Little Audrey will be lonely if we totally separate her into a coop and run on her own. We are considering getting her a friend (another warren of similar age and size - to make it fairer) and keeping them completely separate from the older girls, but within view. However, I would ideally like to adjoin the two runs eventually, which means we're likely to have to go through all this again when the two flocks merge.

    Are we best just keeping three for now, hoping that they will eventually accept Audrey, or would it be cruel of us to separate her (even if only for a couple of weeks) without getting her a coop mate? I worry that if we just keep the three birds and allow them a choice of two coops she'll always sleep in the new coop alone, and when winter comes, she'll get awfully cold. Poor thing [​IMG]

    Argghhh - we don't know what's going to be least painless for us, and the best solution for our lovely new little hen!
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2009
  2. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

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    My Coop
    I've got FOUR groups separated right now.

    Week old chicks in a brooder.

    2 month and 3 month old Juvies in a separate free range area of the yard (praying the hawks and owls don't see them.

    sickies outside the coop/run...

    Then the rest.

    It's much harder to care for a group like that, 4 waterers, 4 feeders. Chores take over 30 minutes morning and evening now.

    YIKES! It's becoming work. Can't wait till they are all grown and healthy.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2009
  3. Hattie the Hen

    Hattie the Hen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi caralouise, I had a similar problem sometime ago. I would get Audrey a friend of her own & put them in the new coop together and let them settle down & get to know each other for a couple of weeks. Then I would take one of the others (but only one) & pop her in with Audrey & New Best Friend for a while. Later I would swap her for the other troublesome pullet. It worked for me and I was eventually able to intergrate them all & they lived happily together. Hope it helps -- Good Luck!
     
  4. WalkingWolf

    WalkingWolf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I take it you don't have a rooster to keep order. I had problems with my juvenile OEGB roos picking on some younger but bigger birds I penned with them. I put in some barred rock juvenile roos hoping their size would restore order(yea no such luck). It finally took the placement of one silkie roo with a attitude to restore the order. What in ensued was a standoff and a small scuffle with 4 to 1 odds but it worked.

    Maybe a roo would help, or letting her and the roo get social so he would protect her. In one pen I have no problems because I have pekin ducks, they break up any fights that start and dominate with their size. When I had one duck she took on one of the hens as her pal, and would run over any other hen that even looked cross eyed at her.
     
  5. caralouise1974

    caralouise1974 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for the advice guys - I'm such a fussing chicken-mum (as is my hubbie!) that we worry dreadfully about them!

    We can't get a rooster, unfortunately, as our neighbours wouldn't be impressed! However, I do think that the solution re getting New Best Friend and gradually introducing the older girls into the new girls' coop is great. So this is what we'll go for!

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2009
  6. Chickenaddict

    Chickenaddict Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:From my past experiences with introducing new chickens to the flock is that it is a much easier transition if it is more than one hen being brought in so getting audrey a buddy is a great idea maybe a few more buddies?
     
  7. caralouise1974

    caralouise1974 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Yup, New Best Friend would seem sensible then. We have to stop at four as we don't have the room in our coop/run for more, much as we'd love them!

    We won't be able to pick up a New Best Friend until next weekend now, meaning that Audrey will have been in the new coop on her own for about five days (although right next to the older girl's coop - so within view, and almost within touching distance, of them) - will that prove to be a problem when we bring the new girl in, and will Audrey get distressed at being on her own for that long?

    This is all such a delicate situation that we don't want to cause any of the hens (or ourselves!) further stress and grief!

    Thanks ever so much everyone! x
     
  8. WalkingWolf

    WalkingWolf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Try offsetting the stress with some treats for her, give her some extra personal attention if she likes to be handled. If she is stressed she may like sitting in your lap being petted for a few days. I always try to spend a couple days holding and calming new birds. Unless of course they just don't like human attention.
     
  9. becky3086

    becky3086 Crested Crazy

    Oct 14, 2008
    Thomson, GA
    Give her several places to hide, under things is good. Lean boards against the side of the pen with just enough room for her to squeeze into or things she can hide behind. They will eventually get used to her but she has to have somewhere to hide until then.
     
  10. caralouise1974

    caralouise1974 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Give her several places to hide, under things is good. Lean boards against the side of the pen with just enough room for her to squeeze into or things she can hide behind

    So you think that Audrey might well have time to become territorial in the five days she's in the new coop on her own then, so that the new girl will need to be able to hide from her when she arrives?? We were rather hoping that if we separated Audrey into the new coop/run on Monday, and got her a new friend on Saturday, that wouldn't be long enough for her to get protective of the space. (We don't want to set off a whole new pecking order scrap between these two if we can help it!)

    (The two older girls will not be going anywhere near Audrey and her new friend for a few weeks, if that's what you meant.)

    Try offsetting the stress with some treats for her, give her some extra personal attention if she likes to be handled. If she is stressed she may like sitting in your lap being petted for a few days.

    Do you mean for Audrey? Do you think she'll be stressed by being in the new coop alone for five days then? I was worried that might be the case. Poor thing.​
     

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