New Chicks for a Lonely Hen

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by FriscoRaven, Aug 9, 2013.

  1. FriscoRaven

    FriscoRaven Out Of The Brooder

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    I have a Barred Rock hen (Pebbles) who is the lone survivor of a fox attack. I've slowly introduced her back to her coop/run where the attack took place over a week ago.

    She seems to do okay, but I can tell she's lonely. She goes in and out of the coop with no issues, so I don't think there is any lingering trauma. But I can tell she's looking for her flock. I've exhausted about every resource I can think of to find new hens around her age, but no luck there. Rehoming her is an absolute last resort for me.

    So I've ordered some new chicks to hopefully rebuild my flock and provide her some company. Pebbles was in my very first group of chickens I've ever raised, so I have no experience introducing new chicks/pullets to each other.

    I have a few questions:

    1) I know I need to keep them somewhat separated until they chicks are older in case Pebbles gets territorial and tries to peck at them. How long should I wait? Until they're fully feathered?

    2) Can I keep the chicks outside with her in the outdoor coop as long as they are segregated?

    3) The chicks will be 1-2 days old, so I know they need a lot of warmth, food, and care. The weather here is incredibly warm in the summer months, so at what age would it be safe to start introducing them to the outdoors?

    4) How/when should I do the first introduction with the chicks? They're just babies, but Pebbles has been completely alone for over a week already. I want her to have company, but I don't want to rush it and put the babies at risk.

    Anyone have help/advice or similar experiences?

    Thanks!
     
  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Getting your lone hen some friends is a good idea though. I'm sure she will appreciate it, even if she has to wait for them to grow up.

    1. Ideally you should wait until the chicks are more or less fully grown, before introducing them to the flock, but in this case, also depending on her behaviour, I may try and introduce and let them mingle sooner, at say 3 months. She will most likely peck them and chase them around a bit at first, but as long as no-one gets injured let them sort it out.

    2. Yes, that is a good idea! This will give them time to get to know and accept each other before letting them mingle. It will make the later integration much easier.

    3. It depends on your outdoor temperatures. For the first week it's recommended that chicks be kept at 90-95*F and you should reduce that by ± 5*F each week until they are fully feathered. I have however put chicks out in slightly cooler temps, so if you think it's warm enough put them outside and watch their behaviour. If they huddle together and pile on top of each other, they are too cold, if they look and act comfortable and happy they are fine.

    4. As soon as the chicks are ready you can put them outside, but separate, so she can see them and they can see her. The sooner you can do this, the better. It will give her some company and give them plenty time to get to know each other. Even if you just put them in a small enclosed place, like a biggish cage, somewhere close to where she is, so she can see them, it will be good.
     
  3. FriscoRaven

    FriscoRaven Out Of The Brooder

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    1. I plan to keep a very close eye on the mingling, regardless of when it happens. I expect there will be some chicken pecking order behaviors, but like you said, as long as no one gets seriously hurt, they'll be allowed to work it out.

    3. The outdoor coop is large enough to hold about 15 chickens (I built it with room to grow for more chickens in the future). I can easily segregate an area for the chicks while inside using chicken wire or chicken mesh fencing. My bigger concerns with setting up the brooder in the coop is the heat lamp. There's no power currently run to it, but I can easily fix that. Day time temps range between 80-95 this time of year .. Maryland weather is just funny like that. I'll keep a close eye on the temp and set up a thermometer in there for a few days before they go out there to get a feel for what to expect. I've read horror stories with heat lamps, and since the coop is a decent distance away from the house, I'm a little nervous. I don't think Pebbles can take two catastrophies!

    4. I have a large dog crate that I was planning to rig with additional chicken wire so they can't escape through the bars. On warmer days, I was hoping to put the crate with the chicks inside in the run with Pebbles. They'd get some outdoor fresh air, and Pebbles would get some "flock time". The crate won't fit inside the coop though, so it would be a lot of manual transport (which I'm okay with).

    I'm starting to feel much better about this :)
     
  4. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  5. aggiemae

    aggiemae Chillin' With My Peeps

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    since chickens are so social and she is alone you probably will not have any of the usual problems of introducing a new flock.
     

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