Need help integrating a bird

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by DaraKing, Sep 21, 2016.

  1. DaraKing

    DaraKing Just Hatched

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    This is my first year raising chickens and my learning curve has ramped up significantly! I made the mistake of chicken math, though...
    [​IMG]
    I got my first four birds on the same day, as day old chicks, and they grew in the brooder together. When they were old enough I moved them outside to the run. Then I decided that I really wanted a RIR and went back to the feed store about a month later and got one. Just one. That was my mistake. I didn't know that its better to integrate multiple birds. So now my problem is getting my older birds to accept my younger RIR. They're about 6 weeks older than RIR and are just slightly larger.
    My flock is a Buff Orpington (Buffy) and two EE's (Henrietta and Chickadee) and the RIR (Rhoda) The cockerel that I got has already been culled and eaten. I keep the dog kennel in the run that I used for Rhoda to introduce her to the flock but she doesn't go into it anymore. Instead she uses it as a step to get up on top of the coop for safety from the other girls, they don't chase her up there. My husband and I have been going out into the run a few times a day to make sure Rhoda gets food and water, but that is getting old. We need to get her safely accepted in with the other girls. My fear is that if we remove the safety of the kennel/step the other pullets will do some serious damage to Rhoda. As it is, they chase her any chance they get so she tends to spend the day up on the roosting bar, unless a human is out there with her, then she comes down. She's a sweet girl and trusts us more than the other girls do!
    As they were putting themselves into the coop tonight, Rhoda was looking very much like she wanted to join them inside the coop (she was on the ground and looking up at the ramp and into the coop, and pacing in front of it) but she went to her roost above the coop instead. I would welcome some advice to get Rhoda accepted into the flock, please!




    [​IMG]
    Guess what? Birdie Butts!

    [​IMG]
    Battle Birds, aka the Bullies!
     
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    That coop is way too small for 5 birds.
     
  4. DaraKing

    DaraKing Just Hatched

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    Actually, it isn't too small, it's rated to hold 6 large birds. My three older birds are nearly full grown and take up half the space in that coop. No worries, though. As I'd stated in the first post, I only have four birds now. But thanks for opining on the topic of coop size.



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    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2016
  5. tmarsh83

    tmarsh83 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    NEIN

    Don't mistake a "rating" for true functionality.

    You want to treat symptoms without addressing the underlying issue of space.


    Best of luck.



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  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2016
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    You are asking for advice about integrating your hen into the flock. Chickens have a social structure, which involves a pecking order. In order to function in that social structure, they must have enough space to meet the behavioral demands. Part of that involves space. When a hen tells an underling to obey the rules and back off, the underling obeys, or gets beat up. And it's considered socially proper in the chicken world to yield a lot of space: to either move FAR away, or to move out of sight. Rhoda does not have that option. I don't know what you have for a run. But, if a flock doesn't have plenty of natural environment to keep them busy: plenty of greens, dust bath options, grazing that includes insects, weeds and seeds, multiple roosting sites, they have little else to occupy themselves aside from becoming militant pecking order bullies. While the pre fab coops are "rated by the manufacturer" to hold so many birds, that does not mean that they are adequate to meet the social structure needs of the flock. Factory farms have chickens crammed into such tight quarters that they have on average as much space per bird as the size of a sheet of paper. Those birds stand in their own feces. They must be debeaked so they don't cannibalize each other. They are prone to disease. A small back yard coop is kept much cleaner, and hopefully, has quite a bit more room. BUT, the minimum standard for a back yard flock is at least 4 sq. ft./bird in the coop, and 10 s.f./bird in the run. With a small flock of 4 birds in a 16 s.f. coop, this still DOES NOT allow enough room for the underling to obey flock social protocol. When Rhoda is told to yield space, if she were in the coop, the furthest she could get away would be about 3'. And, if the bully is in the middle, she could only move 2' away, which is not far enough. That is why she is sleeping and living outside the coop. She is indicating that she WANTS to join the flock. She's a flock animal, and is miserable being an outcast. But she can't because if she moves into the coop, she will get her heiney whipped because she can't obey the rules of the flock.
     
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  8. DaraKing

    DaraKing Just Hatched

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    CTKen, Lazy Gardener: Thank you for the necessary and missing information. Those were helpful. [​IMG]
    The run is chain link fencing at 6' high x 6' wide x 10' long. 60 square feet in the run floor for four birds, plus 3 roosting bars in the run. They dust bathe under the coop and under another roost bar at the front of the run. We toss in meal worms and beetles for them to scratch, and they have a seed treat ball they enjoy.They also get cantaloupe and watermelon or other veggies a couple times a week. We can't let them free range because of hawks regularly flying above.
    I'll be isolating the buff orp for a day or two since she's the current queen of the coop and the worst bully toward Rhoda. Reduce the flock number and break up the pecking order to shake it up a bit for them. Looks like that dog kennel will still be of some use after all. None are laying yet, they're just coming up on 20 weeks old, so I want to get Rhoda accepted before they start laying since it's a big change and likely stressful.



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    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2016
  9. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    It will take time...As long as your other hens are not pecking her to the point of bleeding...It will workout...Pecking order amongst birds is strong...Always a top hen, all the way down to the bottom hen...In my experience, trying to force the issue always fails..In time she will become part of the flock...Looks mean to us...The pecked bird knows how chickens think..She is fine...
    She will end up sleeping in the coop with the other ladies...

    I hope this helped a bit?

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2016
  10. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Try some hideouts too. Just a pallet leaned up against a wall or a piece of plywood. A wall kitty corner to the corner of the run can let a bird get out of sight. The multiple roosts in the run are a good idea. Having more than one feed station is also good, and having one out of sight of the main run is excellent.

    Taking out the main bully can help, and another technique is to take a middle hen out, and place with the singleton bird, until these two get along. Then add a pair back in.

    Mrs K
     

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