Introducing a new hen

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In the Brooder
Jun 12, 2018
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Hello, I have a question :)

We've had chickens for years, but in the past year, they started to die of old age. We gave them all a proper burial, and now we are down to one old hen. After doing some research, turns out a single hen can get lonely and stressed. We really don't want chickens anymore after this, but we also don't want the poor bird to be lonely, so we decided to get a sheep to keep her company.

That didn't work well. The poor girl was terrified of the sheep, she spent 24 hours in the roosting spot and refused to come down. After a day of this, we separated the sheep from the hen. The hen immediately seemed much more at ease, she came down from the roosting spot and started to wander around the yard again.

Still worried that the hen will be too lonely, we borrowed a hen from a friend. We put the new hen in the coop after dark, and they'll wake up together tomorrow. Hopefully all will go well.

Now my question... We have the coop, and a big run attached to it. Normally, we open the door to the run and the hen can run free all day. At night, she goes back to the coop to roost, and then we close the door. The question is... how long should we keep the run closed? I assume the new hen will need a few days to get used to her surroundings. I'm afraid that if we let her go free too soon, she won't find her way back to the coop.

I'm hoping we won't have to keep the run closed for too long, because our girl loves to walk around in the back yard. Any ideas about a time frame?

Thanks
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
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My Coop
we borrowed a hen from a friend. We put the new hen in the coop after dark, and they'll wake up together tomorrow. Hopefully all will go well.

Now my question... We have the coop, and a big run attached to it. Normally, we open the door to the run and the hen can run free all day.
One can hope....better get out there early.

If they fight too much let the older hen out to range and leave the new hen in the coop and run. What to do at roost time...I dunno...might a rodeo.

Might have been better to give the old hen to the friend?

The sheep part made me go :eek::lol:

With time the hen may have gotten used to the sheep...
...and may have not been lonely at all.

Best of cLuck...let us know how it works out.
 

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In the Brooder
Jun 12, 2018
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Thanks for the reply :) So far the hens seem to ignore one another. The new one is in the coop and the old one is in the run. Unfortunately I have to work today and can't keep a real close eye on them (I work from home and check now and then), but tomorrow my husband and I are both off, and we'll take your advice.. let the old hen run around in the yard. She really wants to go out.

Now the sheep appears to be lonely and sad, and all I can think of is.. what have we done? Maybe we'll need another sheep now too..
 

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In the Brooder
Jun 12, 2018
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Haha not really :) I think we might have gone a bit overboard with keeping the chicken happy. I still wonder how long the new hen needs to stay in the run before we let her free range... would a couple days be enough?
 

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In the Brooder
Jun 12, 2018
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So far so good. They both went to the roosting spot without a fight, though they are still totally ignoring one another :)
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
85,750
101,239
1,727
SW Michigan
My Coop
So far so good. They both went to the roosting spot without a fight, though they are still totally ignoring one another :)
That's great!
The fact that there were no attacks is huge.
Both eating and drinking without guarding?
Don't expect them to be hugging just yet......;)
 

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In the Brooder
Jun 12, 2018
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We put two waterers out, one in the run and one in the coop. There is plenty of food in both, the coop and the run. I think they're doing pretty good so far.
 

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