New Cochin hen bullied by established top hen?


Jul 6, 2016
We recently acquired a dainty and quite nervous while Cochin hen - it's a long story, but she was supposed to be a loan for raising chicks, and after that went wrong, and she managed to get mites to boot, we ended up with her permanently.

We have two hybrid hens, Fizz and Pig(widgeon), who get on very well and are an established team. Fizz has always been top hen. This was clear from day one, when she and Pig arrived to join our ageing hybrid Rex when her buddy had passed on. She wasn't very nice to Rex for a day or so, but Rex new the ropes and they quickly established a new hierarchy with Fizz up top, then Rex, then Pig. Well, Rex isn't with us anymore, so it's just been Fizz and Pig for a while.

When it became clear that the Cochin, Davina, was going to stay with us, and she'd stopped being broody, I let her out into a parallel run to the one which our resident ladies occupy and this seemed to go quite well and gave Fizz and Davina a chance to get to know each other. Pig is pretty much out of the picture because she's now gone broody and refuses to leave the hen house. Davina is a flighty, nervous little thing - she comes from a larger flock with a coo, and isn't very used to humans, so she's pretty jumpy, but she seemed to be settling in fairly well.

A couple of days ago I opened the gate between the two runs to get her to join the other ladies and that's when it all started to go wrong. Fizz is behaving like a proper nightmare, chasing Davina all over the place, not letting her do anything, basically. For a while even Pig got in on the act, specifically emerging from the nesting box to have a go at Davina. The poor thing ended up hiding in some bushes at the back of the run and refusing to budge. She wouldn't even go into the henhouse at night for fear that the ladies might get to her. I had to wade through the undergrowth to get her, which, considering how she feels about humans, freaked her out even more, and put her in the coop.

When I opened up the coop in the morning she'd squished herself in a tiny gap between the wall of the coop and the nesting boxes, and again, refused to budge from there. She was so traumatised that I separated the hens again for the rest of the day to give her a chance to calm down.

Is there anything I can do to ease this transition? I feel really bad for Davina - she's such a nervous little thing anyway! In addition, we are off on holiday in about 10 days and I'd hate to leave the chicken-sitter with this situation...
The new bird is seen as an intruder to be driven off. It will take a while for them to forget she doesn't belong, but she will always be an outsider to the two. Don't rush combining them.

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