May have spooked my new girls.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Brooksy86, Dec 15, 2016.

  1. Brooksy86

    Brooksy86 Just Hatched

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    Yesterday I picked up four ISA brown hens, all of them are ex battery, after I lost almost all my flock recently. After collecting them they seemed fearless, they happily had a quick bit of free-ranging before bed and I put them in the hutch. This morning they were still pretty docile, a little excitable but happy enough to relax in my arms for a
     
  2. Brooksy86

    Brooksy86 Just Hatched

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    *bloody cats on the keyboard*

    Anyway, they seemed happy enough to relax in my arms a while before I let them free-range whilst I worked in the garden,Ibuilt them a new coop from a load of scrap wood I collected, and they seemingly spend the day enjoying the sun but generally huddled up under some bushes. As I was finishing up their new home the sky went a bit apocalypticand I thought now seemed a good time to get them out of the rain and to show them their new home.

    All hell broke loose.

    I never seen chickens run so ****** fast in my life, they screamed bloody murder, I got attacked twice and bashed my knee in trying to get one out from under the house. Ultimately I had to be a little rough with them to actually collect them which did me no favours at all, even the silkies seemed agitated at me, but ultimately I got them all inside. You may wonder why I didn't just leave them out, but although my garden has been secured after the incident with my old batch, I still don't like the idea of leaving them out when I'm not about. But now I feel awful, I want these girls to have a better life than they did before I got them and now I think they are gonna see my ugly mug and be petrified.

    Any idea on how to help me regain their trust and any clues as to why they all suddenly went a bit loopy? I was using power tools and a saw fairly close to them, would that be it?

    Thanks
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Hey there Brooksy86

    I definitely was not thinking “why didn’t you just leave them out”; way too many things can happen overnight to a chicken who is not secure.

    Just my thoughts, chickens are not huge fans of change and if I read it right, they came home one day and slept in a hutch that night, the next day they wandered around an unfamiliar garden and got chased into different sleeping quarters on their second night?

    Does the new coop have a run attached? If not, can you put up a temporary one? I am thinking that a couple of weeks in the run with their new coop is going to fix your problem.

    They need to learn where home is. After a couple of weeks enclosed, once free ranging they should return to coop without an issue.

    Also, that couple of weeks will give them the opportunity to be accustomed to you at close quarters. Bring them some treats, sit with them chatting away about not much in particular. They will soon learn to trust you and get used to having you close.

    From personal experience, the quickest way to a chicken’s heart is a live meal worm LOL
     
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Your new hens basically know nothing. A bit of erratic behavior is to be expected. Depending on where you got them from they probably experienced nothing except living in a cage. Now they are somewhere that they aren't familiar with. Chickens don't do well with change.

    I would forget today and start fresh tomorrow. It will take some time for them to become familiar with you and their new home. Chickens are flighty normally unless handled a lot as chicks. So they probably reacted like you were a predator when you tried to grab them.

    I personally don't handle my birds unless necessary, and most become friendly and curious with me, so handling isn't necessary unless there's a problem. Offer them treats and quietly sit by them so they start to become familiar with you. I might not let them free range for a few weeks until they consider their coop their new home and are comfortable going in and out before trying them out again.
     
  5. Brooksy86

    Brooksy86 Just Hatched

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    Thank you guys, yeah, I think I gave them bit of a sensory overload. Seeing it in writing made it sink in a little more, spend the following hours afterwards just talking to them through their new home, after a while they stopped being all cooped up in the corner and seemed to relax and eat their food and drink their water. I also got them to eat mealworms from my hand as way of an apology. I'm going to leave them in the coop for a few weeks (as much as that breaks my heart to keep them locked up again, albeit, in better conditions and with a lot more space) so they know where home is and if they get spooked they can zero int where they are safe, then I'll let them slowly come out and just get used to me. One of them is a bit weird, keeps her head buried in the corner and won't even look up (apart from the worms briefly), the other three seem to be pushing her away. I'm sure it'll work out though. I'm oing to make sure these lovely ladies have a very comfortable remainder of their lives. :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2016
  6. Cacique500

    Cacique500 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think a week would be plenty of time to get them acclimated to the coop. Food is always the best way to train them so you did good with the meal worms. You might try sitting with them (or out in the yard) with some treats so they get used to your hands...move slowly...they'll eventually start hopping up on your legs or in your lap to get at the treats. I also trained mine (as many people do) with treats to come when I call them "chick chick chick" or whatever you come up with. Rattle a can with meal worms in it...they'll learn very quickly to come running. Once that's done, it's very easy to get them back in the coop when you need to. Grapes, raisins, tomatoes, black soldier fly larvae, meal worms...all great treats that they'll love.
     
  7. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    It's quite possible these hens didn't all come from the same cage and don't know each other. Chickens establish a pecking order by pecking. Watch that poor girl carefully so she doesn't get pecked too much. Are your hens debeaked? If not you might have to separate the one within sight of everyone, otherwise hopefully they will work it out.

    Sounds like you got a good plan. Poor girls just don't know what is going on right now. I'm glad you are giving them a better life.
     
  8. PaulaMc

    PaulaMc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aaaww well done you for rescuing your lovely ladies. I adopted 4 in May this year and 3 have blossomed. Sadly Mabel only lasted a week due to baggy crop but at least she had the sun on her back for the first time.

    It only needed a few days in the coop for them to realise it was home. They just started to go back in themselves after that when I had let them free in the garden.
     
  9. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    That is Funny......lol


    Anyways locking them into the Coop for a few days so they think of it as home will calm them down....Then free range...They will be less inclined to go bonkers on you.....lol



    Cheers!
     
  10. Brooksy86

    Brooksy86 Just Hatched

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    Today they were much better, I actually moved their entire home a fair way across the garden so I think I'll have to re-acclimatize them to their new surroundings again but two of the hens are so inquisitive its incredible, will eat from my hand, one tried climbing up my leg and both will cautiously stand firm when I approach them. I took a chance and put the super nervous/bullied one in with my two equally timid silkies and they seem to get along fine, and the remainding one seems to be taking a pretty neutral stance although she'll clamber over everything to get to a handful of mealworms.

    I watched them all take a dirt bath yesterday, it was weird, they all seemed to queue to do it in the same spot but they were happy as hell either way. They already seem to have a bit more... I dunno, life(?) to them, they stand a little taller and confidently now, no eggs but that doesn't bother me, as long as they compost everything I throw at them then I'm a happy man.

    A bit worried about the silkies and the nervous one though, the two fluffy buggers just sit indoors all day, they won't even eat mealworms and they just hide all the time. Any tips on bringing them out a bit more or do I just accept I have a trio of ballsy birds and a trio of timid ones?
     

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