Isolating a Bully - how much is too much?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mcmoody, Aug 9, 2013.

  1. mcmoody

    mcmoody Out Of The Brooder

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    We are new to the chicken thing. We have (2) 20 week old chickens - a Production Red and a Americana mutt. And (2) 13 week old chickens (a Production Red and a Barred Rock).

    The two Littles are just starting bawk and cluck.

    I get that they need to work it out and we need to let them do their thing to some extent. But the Big PR is continually chasing and pecking (and bloodying) the little Barred Rock. The littles are very scared of the biggies.

    The two little chickens were raised in our kitchen in a brooding box a day out of eggs and are very tame. We are quite attached to them.

    Here is how we've been handling it so far:

    We have a coop/run combo that's pretty good sized. Certainly comfortable for four hens.
    [​IMG]

    So at night, we've been locking one pair of chickens in the coop and one pair in the run. So they all have shelter and protection but they aren't together. This works okay - as we let them all out during the day from morning til dusk in the yard. The four of them free range together. They've been in the same living quarters (but separated by wire) for weeks now.

    Free ranging is working out okay - they avoid each other (they pair off). But the Littles have figured out how to come in through the dog/cat door and are coming in the kitchen and roosting on my kitchen chair legs half the day. (ugh). When I block the animal door, they go around the house, over the fence and wait at the back door, cheeping and peeking in the window like little dogs. They totally want to live in the house with us.

    Anyway. We're working on that, as it's probably not realistic. :p

    So we are about to go out of town in one month. At that point I'll have (2) 17 week old chickens and (2) 25 week old chickens all living together. When we are out of town, they can't free range, they must stay confined. For one week.

    If the big Red is still picking on the babies and making them bloody, I'm guessing keeping them all in one coop/run arrangement is not a safe idea? I know they are all almost full grown - but I don't want bloodied half dead and traumatized chickens when I return?

    What should we do? I've read that it's okay to isolate the bully? Should we do that RIGHT NOW? Take her away from her Americana friend and let the three remaining chickens make friends and then bring the Big Red back? How long should we do that for? A week? I can put her in a large dog cage and leave her there. I really don't like her very much. :p I'd eat her, but my husband is squemish about it.

    We only have a month to make some decisions about how to handle these ladies before we are gone and the most attention they will receive is someone checking on their food and water.

    Martha
     
  2. DavidKerk

    DavidKerk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm not an expert, but I would isolate her for about a week until she considers wherever she is isolated as her new home. Then I'd put her back with the others. That way, she'll be getting introduced to an established flock and this could mellow her. If this doesn't work, you could try Craigslist. Maybe you could keep her in the isolation coop while you're gone?
     
  3. mcmoody

    mcmoody Out Of The Brooder

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    Would a large dog cage count as an isolation coop? I consider it very small... but I know lots of hens in world live in a milk crate and produce for years. So I guess a large dog crate wouldn't kill her for a week.

    How do you guys predict the other Big hen will handle having her flock mate removed? They are a pair. Will she be distraught for a day and then hook up with the babies?

    What about the isolated Hen? Will she be distraught for a week being alone?

    Martha
     
  4. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    For a week the dog crate will work. If you can put her where they can see or hear each other it would work best. Actually removing the one older hen will help the remaining older one to bond with the newbies. Of course both of them will be dislocated when separated, but for the good of the whole they will have to do it. They will get over it.
     
  5. mcmoody

    mcmoody Out Of The Brooder

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    I don't want to make any assumptions. Should the bully remain in isolation (dog crate) all the time, even for free ranging all day? Just feed her and water her in there and let the other chickens form a little group in the yard and coop?

    Martha
     
  6. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I see in my earlier post I forgot the 't in can't. In a garage or shed say where they can'T see or hear each other.. If you have a place to leave her out where she has no contact with the others the you could leave her out. If you don't have isolation she will remind them that she still exists and she still has a place. The others need time to bond with out distractions, and her presence even through, say a wire fence, is a big one.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2013
  7. dearnley

    dearnley Out Of The Brooder

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    m having that with my gunea hens
     

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