Introducing a single rescue hen, any advice?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by hen1415, Jun 10, 2016.

  1. hen1415

    hen1415 New Egg

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    Jun 9, 2016
    Long time reader (and learner), first time post.

    We rescued a young (near 1 yo) Australorp hen and are trying to integrate her into our flock. She was quarantined and we did the "see but not touch" method of introducing her. The girls (we have 4 others who are all around 3 yo) all showed interest in her, they'd forage around her fenced area, there were occasional squabbles near the fence, but nothing huge. She would go back in her separate house at night at that point. Eventually we built a couple of new roosts in the run and coop in preparation for her full integration. We started letting her free-range with the flock. She bonded quickly with out other Australorp, and now follows her around. Our #2 hen gave her a good peck on the head and has since been someone with whom the new hen can benignly hang. The new girl is firmly at the bottom of the pecking order, she is very, very sweet to people and is extremely submissive to everyone in the flock. When our #1 hen comes close, she will squat completely flat. The #1 hen will mount her and peck at her, but not super hard. The new girl is missing head feathers, but we expected that from the integration. We've been keeping an eye on her and she doesn't have any open sores. I dabbed some blue coat in the bare areas to hide them a little better.

    Now onto the huge problem, our middle hen. Like a middle child, she's giving us fits. She charges and attacks the new hen. The new hen will run away from her and hide by me or will seek refuge by our other Australorp. If the bully gets her to squat, everyone will join in and start pecking her. I break up those instances quickly because she's doing nothing to defend herself. The bully got so bad that the new hen couldn't eat or drink even though I have multiple food/water sites. Our coop/run situation isn't huge so it's hard when the new girl is afraid of the #1 hen and the bully. They split up and one guards the coop, the other guards the run.

    To try and solve this, I decided to separate the bully. I put her in a dog kennel in the garage. In the 2 weeks that the bully was removed, the new hen became more courageous. She's not 100% integrated, but she was better. For the next few days it's supposed to be blazing hot and the bully can't be in the garage. I put her in with the rest of the flock and everything went to heck. The new hen perches at the highest point in the coop. She can't get food or water. I take them out to free range and they're ok as long as the new hen doesn't get cornered by the bully, which she doesn't for the most part. After the heatwave (about 2 more days) I'm putting the bully back in the garage.

    It's been about 6-7 weeks that we've had the new hen. I'm just wondering if anyone has suggestions to make this integration happen a little easier with the bully. Please don't suggest freezer camp. The bully is my sweet hen, she loves to be held and is the one hen that comes up to people to socialize so getting rid of her is out of the question. After the heatwave is over I'm planning on rearranging the coop and run. I'm hoping that making it look different will shake things up a bit. My original group of hens freak out if I change the shavings in the coop so I'm hoping that a huge blast of "differentness" may help.

    Thank you so much for making it through my post. I'd appreciate any advice. I'm not at my wit's end, I just want peace and for the new girl to not be so picked on.

    Thank you!
     
  2. Rod-T

    Rod-T Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 23, 2015
    Deer park, Washington
    Can you have a rooster? Roosters tend to help keeping order in a flock
     
  3. hen1415

    hen1415 New Egg

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    Jun 9, 2016
    Hi! Unfortunately we're not allowed to have roosters in our area. The good thing is that we have a lot of space for them to free range.
    Thank you!
     
  4. Rod-T

    Rod-T Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Deer park, Washington
    That's too bad.. sounds like they could use one... even short term would bring some order to the flock. .
    I guess you got just keep plugging along .. hopefully they will all become a family and accept each other
     
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    can you reverse it, put the bully where you had the new hen in the see but don't touch set up?

    Really, I think that you are over the worst, and there is little worse than a single hen addition. And really I think you did that twice, first with the new hen, and then when you added the bully back in.

    I think if there is space, I would put the bully and another hen with her in the see but don't touch space. Leave them there for a while, then try again.

    If you are still having problems in several weeks, you might need to measure. Sometimes people think that if they free range, they can cheat on space in the coop, and you can, kind of in the summer. But in the fall, there needs to be plenty of room in the coop, or you are going to have problems. Often times people think "oh there is plenty of room for one more chicken!" But in reality there is not

    A comfortable peaceful flock is worth a great deal to me. Sometimes there is a bird that does not work out in the flock, for whatever reason. If so, I would cull her by removing her from the flock, not necessarily freezer camp, one can often sell a laying hen. You really cannot wish chicken nice. However, I don't keep pets, I keep a flock, and for me the harmony of the flock is more important than individual birds. I have had the flock for years, but birds come and go as I see fit.

    Mrs K
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2016
  6. chickens really

    chickens really Chicken Obsessed

    Keep the bully out of the flock just as you have been....Sometimes it takes along time for a hen to accept another one.
    Put her in a cool place till the heat wave is over..Only thing I can suggest.
    Good luck!
     

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