Newbie needs help!


9 Years
Aug 8, 2010
Hi all,

I am new to this so any help would be appreciated.

I set up my new coop with 6 chickens a week ago. Got 3 Buff Orpingtons and 3 RIR from a local chicken farmer that is reliable. I know some others that have purchased from him and had no problems. Well during the week one of the RIRs appeared to not be eating and I lost her on Friday. During the day Friday, Saturday and today the remaining 2 RIRs appeared to be fine. They scratched around the pen with the Buffs and ate and drank well it seems. Tonight the two stayed at the bottom of the steps going into the coop and one appeared to be nudging the other one to go up the steps and she would not go. Even one of the Buffs appeared to come out to encourage them to go in. I picked up the 2 RIRs and put them in the coop and they just huddled by the door while the 3 Buffs were up on the perch. I am afraid that the 2 remaining RIRs are going to meet the same fate as the other one.

The Buffs appear to be VERY healthy, and right now the 2 RIRs seem healthy too.

Any help or suggestions would be great!

How old are your chickens?

Have the chickens been at your house for only one week? Or longer?

The RIR who didn't want to go inside - does she act sick? Or just didn't want to go in?
Is the coop brand new, or just the chickens? If the coop is old, and the chickens new- check inside well after dark with a flashlight for mites. Red mites can cause anemia, and the hens won't want to go in, as they know they will get swarmed after dark. If this is a new built coop- you can ignore all of the above....
Yes, if they're new birds in a new coop, THAT may be the issue, as change is hard for chickens. OR, it could be that the one RIR is reacting to the disappearance of the pullet you lost (another change). It could even be as simple as the one RIR avoiding the hen house because she's getting pecked while situating herself on the roost. As long as they are eating/drinking and otherwise behaving normally, there's not a lot you can do to assess whether there's illness going around. It could have simply been a fluke with the one bird that died...could have been something as simple as her eating a screw or some other bad object. So hopefully there's no illness going around...
Thanks to all for the quick replies:

The coop is new.
They are new to my house since a week ago Saturday.
The Buffs are about 4 months, the RIR's are about 3 months.
The one RIR seemed to be nudging the other into the coop and she didn't want to go.
I picked them up and put them in myself.

I hope is just a change in atmosphere thing or perhaps the change in the lost hen. I am really enjoying my new adventure, but I don't want to stress the birds out. I will keep you all updated!

Thanks again
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Ok, so the saga continues. On Monday night the 2 RIRs went into the coop on their own and went headfirst right into a nesting box and stayed there all night. Last night they went to the other side of the coop on their own and huddled there until morning. Tonight, they were under the edge of the coop while the Buffs were inside on the perch. One of the RIR hens had a wing over the other hen. I placed them both inside the coop. I am fearful that the smallest RIR is headed for the same fate as the one that I lost and I feel sort of helpless about it. I worked at home today and everytime I looked they were walking around the pen and eating. I did notice when I put food in the feeder and water in the waterer that the the second to the largest Buff seemed to get bossy with the RIRs when they were trying to get some feed.

So, I guess my question for tonight is this, should I just leave them out of the coop if that is where they seem to want to be or should I pick them up and put them in the coop?
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