Introducing two hens - how to make them friends

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Blazel, Jun 12, 2019.

  1. Blazel

    Blazel In the Brooder

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    Hey there,

    This is a bit of an odd post, I know my partner and I are a bit abnormal when it comes to our pet chickens, but we would really appreciate some advice. We recently lost one of our two girls, Stella, had to be euthanized due to old age and multiple health complications decreasing her quality of life. Our remaining girl Reese started living in the house in the evening and spending the day in the run after Stella passed. Since losing Stella, Reese has gotten quite lonely, often waiting at the fence for us to get home from work and frequently checking for Stella in her old hiding spots. We decided it was time to get another hen.

    Due to both Stella and Reese being rescues (My boyfriend found Reese wandering the woods near a construction site bald and hungry, Stella had a prolapsed vent that was picked apart by other chickens) we decided to get another rescue. We made a post locally looking for a hen friend for Reese and got many replies. We ended up taking a hen that was being bullied (held down and having feathers pulled out, not being allowed access to roosting or food) and named her Logan. Logan had lots of wounds and needed antibiotics but was otherwise given the ok from our vet and is expected to heal normally.

    Now Logan has finished her antibiotics and mostly grown her feathers in, we are working on introducing the two. Last time we did this was easy with Reese and Stella, Reese is queen bee, where as Stella would run from finches passing her coop, Reese was in charge and Stella just followed her around. Reese and Stella had a little head pecking from Reese when we let them out in the yard together, very minimal problems, and in no time they were dust bathing together and sharing food.

    Logan and Reese have not gotten along quite so smoothly. Reese has been bullying Logan, bumping into her and jumping on her, it seems very aggressive. Though they are quite interested in each other and seem fine when there is a barrier between them. Currently they are both sleeping in different dog crates in the house. Logan free roams the backyard in the day and Reese has the run. Logan vocalizes excessively to Reese during the day.

    My boyfriend is convinced that Logan needs more time to grow her feathers in and then Reese will "get over it" and they'll be fine. I'm much more of a worrier and am concerned they hate each other. I know this isn't the typical set up for chickens and we do things a bit abnormally, but what can I do to help these girls get along? We love them both and want to have a happy family again.

    Thank you!
     
  2. Henriettamom919

    Henriettamom919 Crowing

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    First of all, welcome to BYC! Secondly, bless your heart for trying to give these girls such a loving home! You're doing an amazing thing.

    Unfortunately, some birds (just like people) simply never "click" and nothing you do or don't do will change that. I'm not saying they'll never be friends, they might just need more time but it also might never happen. You could try sitting with both in the yard for a bit each day and hand feeding them treats, talking softly to each and see if that helps them associate each other with a pleasant time.

    Best of luck, either way. Most likely they will at the very least come to tolerate each other even if at a distance.
     
  3. Blazel

    Blazel In the Brooder

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    That's kind of what I feared as a worst case scenario. Ultimately if they hate each other we'll just have to build a second coop w/ run or they'll continue to sleep in the house at night. They both have a home here, so we'll make it work, I just want so badly for them to enjoy one another!

    I shouldn't be so shocked with Reese's behaviour, despite Reese being so sweet with Stella, she definitely would charge at dogs passing our fence and was quite bossy to our dog. I'll give what you mentioned a try, we've had some nice interactions in the yard where Logan and Reese mostly ignore each other. Logan dustbathes and Reese leaves to look for bugs. Fingers crossed we can make this work! I hate seeing them so lonely! Thank you for the advice!
     
    Henriettamom919 likes this.
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    With just two hens, it can be a bit more tricky. When you have more hens, they tend to have more going on, and it is hard to just focus on one bird.

    So my point is it is going to take more time. A couple of things you can do, is make both feel a little uncomfortable by changing their spot. So if Reese has the run, and Logan the yard, well flip it around.

    I am not quite sure why you have them in the house if you have a coop and run? I would get them out there as much as possible. To me, chickens are healthier outside.

    Sometimes if you prolong the introduction, you do just that, prolong it. Sometimes it is better to let them work it out with as little interference as you can stand.

    Sometimes a squirt gun, can be used to harmlessly put the bully in her place. If you can spend a day with them, that might help.

    Mrs K
     
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  5. Henriettamom919

    Henriettamom919 Crowing

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    I really hope they come to accept each other. Think of it this way- most of us wait months before allowing new chicks who are grown up to freely interact with an existing flock without supervision. Even those that do it area build seclusion spots so they can keep away from one another. After all that it can take several more months before they'll happily interact and forage together.

    These two might just need some serious time and could end up best of friends! Plus, they're not lonely if they have you!
     
  6. Blazel

    Blazel In the Brooder

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    Thank you for the advice, that helps a lot. I think i'm just feeling discouraged! But they were hanging out by each other through the fence today, so that's good!
     
    Henriettamom919 likes this.
  7. Blazel

    Blazel In the Brooder

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    Thank you for the advice, the reason they sleep in the house is because the run is not 100% predator proof but the coop is. We don't feel comfortable keeping them both in the coop together overnight and unsupervised. As embarrassing as it is, I just can't pick one to sleep in the coop and one in the house, I feel guilty, and my boyfriend loves having them as house guests oddly.
    We're switching their spots right now! :)
     
    Henriettamom919 likes this.
  8. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    Well the thing is, you are guilty of making it worse. They need to be roosting together or they will never roost together. I understand your fear, but try this: Put one in the coop, and one in the house in the dark. After full dark, your chickens will be asleep, and they will be nearly in a state of comatose. Take the house chicken with minimum light, and put her on the roost, next to the other bird. Close up the coop, but set your alarm so that you can get out there early to let them out.

    The more you separate the birds, the more you have to start over each day. If you want them to become friends, they have to work it out without interference.

    You could also add pin-less peepers to the aggressive hen. And truthfully that might be your best approach. But the more you keep them apart, the worse it is for everyone, you included.

    mrs K
     
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