Integration Question, not the usual advice needed

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Jeremy128, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. Jeremy128

    Jeremy128 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello!
    Bare with me, this needs a bit of explaining. I had 6 black star hens. They are about 5 1/2 months old. Last week I lost one to a racoon. After losing one, I decided to add two to the flock. I purchased 2 18 week old hens. A white leghorn and a brown aracauna.
    While these birds were very well cared for, they werent too socialized. And they lived in a coop/run area. They were not allowed to free range (my flock roams free morning to dusk).
    Not knowing any better, I placed them in the coop, on the roost at dusk. I'd heard this helps them integrate better. The next morning, the two new birds were still on the roost when the others were ready to get out of the coop. I let them out of the coop. THE leghorn immediately headed for the woods, and up the hill. As it turns out, that was the last I saw of her.
    The Aracauna treid to enter the flock. She was obviously attacked by the other birds. I sat and watched her try to approach the flock several times, unsuccessfully. She ended up kind of following the flock from several feet away in the tree line. I kept an eye on her for about an hour. I couldnt sit there all day and watch chickens unfortunately. So I left assuming that she would follow the flock from a distance.
    WHen I got home later in the day, she was gone. I looked for her for a while then had to give up due to darkness. This morning I was hoping to see her around the yard. Again, no luck.
    Every evening when I close the coop door, I count the hens to make sure they are all in there. When I did, I counted 6! The aracauna returned! I was shocked! I thought she was done for. She was actively being pecked in the head, but she was there!
    Anyway, my coop is good sized. So I placed my dogs wire kennel inside the coop, and put the aracauna inside it with some food, water and a roost. I dont have a run for my flock. I plan on using a sectional palstic fence that I have to create a run and put the aracauna in it until she is a bit better accepted by the flock. I am also trying to figure out a way to keep her seperated inside the coop, while still giving her more space than inside the kennel. Here's my question. Will she learn to stay with the flock since she has never free ranged. Her eniter life was spent in a coop and run. Now that I am lucky enough to get her back, I dont want to her run off again. Advice?
    BTW, Due to the fact that she ran off, survived in the wild for 2 days, and made it back to the coop, I named her Lucky.
     
  2. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

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    You can pretty easily put up a cheap temporary run for her from some plastic mesh wire and some tomato stakes. It doesn't have to do more than be a barrier as its not designed to keep her safe at night or anything like that and the chickens won't really try hard to get through It.

    As for the free ranging, the problem wasn't that she didn't know how, it was that they had never spent enough time there to associate it with home so when it was bedtime had no more reason to return to your coop than the neighbours. After a few weeks in her own run getting to know the others and letting them get used to her she should both integrate better and know where home is.

    Btw its a good idea to quarantine new birds for a few weeks away from your existing flock in case they have any diseases you don't know about.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  3. Jeremy128

    Jeremy128 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 26, 2013
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    Thanks Apps! Yeah, I didnt quarantine. I realized that after the two new birds had spent the night in the coop. At that point, I guessed that it was too late. Can you tell that Im new to Chickens? I got my chicks when they were one day old. I was certain that I'd have lost more by now. I even told my daughter (huge animal lover) to expect sevral of them to die for various reasons.

    While my coop is secure, it is still not finished. I have a pop door framed in on one side that will lead to a run when all is said and done. As it sits though, I have a peice of plywood covering the opening. I may build a temporary run and finish that door. I can then put up a temporary barrier in the coop that would seperate Lucky on the side with that door.

    I understand what you are saying about free ranging. I know that she knows how. I am just a bit worried about her. SHe needs to learn where her home is. When I originally put my flock in the coop I left them in there for a week. I guess I ned to do the same for the new one too. At least by letting her go between the coop and th elittle run, she will have some mobility.
     
  4. ChickNanny13

    ChickNanny13 Overrun With Chickens

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    You may want to try feeding all of them Happy Hen Treat (freeze dried meal worms)...My chickens LOVE it and will run each other over when I shake the container. I started from young, put some in a small plastic container which I fed them from. When they got the taste of it (don't take long), I'd shake the container to call them. It works great. Now whenever they hear the container open, they come a running. It may help "collect" any missing or slow returning chickens. Just a thought...
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. Hayduke27

    Hayduke27 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I second the treat idea. The way to a chickens heart (and deep into their brain) is through food!!!!!!
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Appps got it right. It often takes chickens a while to understand where they are is now home. They had no real reason to know they are supposed to hang around and may have gone looking for home.

    What you are seeing is real common in integration. The younger less mature pullet is not the social equal of the older more mature hens. It’s called the pecking order for a reason. The mature pullets are enforcing their pecking order privileges. It’s bad chicken etiquette for a young chicken to eat with or invade the private space of a higher ranked chicken.

    Keep her locked up for a while so she associates your coop with a safe place to spend the night. Expect her to kind of hang around the others but keep her distance until she matures enough to make her way into the pecking order and become a full part of the flock. That often happens when they start to lay though sometimes it takes longer.
     
  7. Jeremy128

    Jeremy128 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 26, 2013
    Outside St. Louis MO.
    I got home from work this morning (I work midnights), and let them out of the coop. I then put together a small fenced in area to put Lucky in. I turned round to get her some water. As soon as I did, my 7year old son and the other chickens went toward the fenced in area. Lucky freaked out, jumped the fence and ran into the woods again.
    I put the others back in the coop and tried to coax Lucky out of the brush and weeds by giving her crackers and corn. It didnt work. But, she did stay very close to the coop! I did this for about an hour until I needs to go to bed.
    I left the others out and they immediately went to their favorite bush and forgot a out Lucky. I placed a water dish by the coop, near where she was hiding and went to bed.
    When I woke up, my wife informed me that she had out the other chickens back in the coop because they were pecking Lucky as she was sitting inside the hole of a cinder block, which is part of the coop. She put the others in the coop again and started feeding Lucky a couple small tomatoes from the garden. after a few minutes, she was hand feeding Lucky!
    I went out there and Lucky immediately took a couple steps towards the bushes. So I made sure that she had water, and left her alone.
    So, she does understand that the coop is her home. She doesn't go far from it and always comes back to it!
    I will put her back inside the dog kennel, in the coop again tonight.
    It seems that everything will work out, just gonna take some time!
    Thanks for the advice everyone! I really appreciate it!
     
  8. Jeremy128

    Jeremy128 Out Of The Brooder

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    Outside St. Louis MO.
    Question fir everyone. The other five chickens sleep on a roost that is about 4 feet off the ground. There is another roost that is much closer to the floor. Do you think the others will peck her if she was on the lower roost?
     
  9. Jeremy128

    Jeremy128 Out Of The Brooder

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    Outside St. Louis MO.
    Good news! Lucky snuck into the coop a bit early. She was up on the roost when another hen came in and started pecking her pretty hard. Every time the hen pecked her, I flicked the chicken on the head and neck. Eventually, I grabbed the offending hen and put her in the kennel, on the floor, near the roost.
    After doing that, Lucky actually let me let her! I let her for a few minutes then she let me pick her up without any issues. I then held her for about 15 minutes petting her back and neck. She was ok with it! That was huge!
    When I put her back I. The coop, the others were ready on the roost. To prevent her from getting beat on again, I placed her on a large square bag of line shavings, pet her for a few more minutes then shut the door. Just at sunset, I checked in them and all seemed ok. No pecking or issues. It seemed everybody was done for the night!
    We'll see how they do tomorrow.
    It seems that Lucky has realized that this is home, and is trying to figure everything out.
    I'm suprised she let me hold her since she has never really been held or socialized by the previous owner. I think it was a safety security thing, which helps a lot to her to socialize/bond.
     
  10. Jeremy128

    Jeremy128 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 26, 2013
    Outside St. Louis MO.
    Oh! I also got her to eat out of my hand while I was holding her! She ate some crushed crackers.
     

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