Only one chicken left after attack--how to help introduce a companion chicken?

KHasChickens

In the Brooder
May 12, 2020
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29
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Hi. Chicken tragedy on Saturday--a fox got 8 of our 9 pullets while they were grazing in a (what I thought was a) protected safe space when I had to step away for 5 minutes to settle a kid squabble. I was very wrong. And we were devastated. We thought she (pretty sure it was a mama fox) had gotten all of them, but the next day, found one under our sunroom where it had escaped through a hole in the latticework. Coaxed her out and got her back in her coop. She is a traumatized chicken. She was the most 'anxious" of all our birds anyways--always calling when away from the rest of her flockmates. Now she just roosts most of the time making this pitiful little chicken noise. She will eat a bit and drink a bit, and interact with me some, but she will not voluntarily leave the coop, and she just has all signs of a depressed and scared chicken. She can jump up to her roost, but I think she got a little knocked about in the fox encounter. I know some of this probably just has to take time to resolve (hopefully), but I also know chickens are social. Tomorrow I am picking up a pullet that is a week younger than her--similar size, etc so she will not be alone while we brood some more chicks to join them.

My question is, there are all sorts of recommendations on how to introduce new ladies to a flock--but I can't find good info on how to do that if it is one traumatized lonely chicken, and one new untraumatized chicken. Is it different? Is it the same? Do you still introduce with a barrier and see what my lonely chicken does? What if she never comes out of the coop and ignores her? How long do I leave the new lady segregated? Do I put the new chicken in the coop? The coop is built to hold 10 chickens and has a 8x8 attached poultry pen so there is plenty of space for them to run from each other...but I don't want to make it worse for either of them. Any advice for this first time chicken caregiver? Thanks so much!
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
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Put the new chicken in the coop with the old chicken. Watch what happens.

If they act unfriendly--put in a few treats.

Be ready to put one in a crate inside the coop for a few days if needed, but you probably won't need to. (Which one to put in the crate? Whichever one acts like a bully. Let the victim be free in the coop.)

Usually you have to worry about big chickens picking on little chickens, lots of chickens picking on a few chickens, resident chickens picking on newcomers.

In your case, they will be same size, same quantity; and you'll have one newcomer and one traumatized. So I think it's as close to equal as you can get. Also, it's impossible for a large group to gang up on one chicken when the total number of chicks is two!

Edit to add: when I suggest "treats," I'm thinking something like a clump of sod or a pile of vegetable peelings, that they can scratch and peck at for quite a while.
 

KHasChickens

In the Brooder
May 12, 2020
24
29
44
Thanks for the reply, I really appreciate it. Your rationale made a lot of sense, and probably saved me a lot of time and effort and fretting.

I did what you said and just put them in the run together and literally hung out with them for a few hours to monitor. They did really well. Just a few little "tests" of each other. My Sapphire Gem (Buckbeak) stood her ground when the new EE (Hope) tested her, which I was glad to see. I wasn't sure how "broken" BB was after her fox trauma. But yesterday was the hottest day we have had yet, and in the end, they both basically just rested in the shade near each other, sipping water and dozing. BB started to scratch about and even try to rustle up a dust bath at one point--first time she had acted like anything other than a petrified wary statue of a chicken outside, so I was very happy. I tried to catch my new girl to take her into the coop once BB went in (she has been putting herself to bed much earlier--can't really blame her) but ended up chasing her in there instead, basically. (Our coop is not a walk-in.) She jumped up next to Buckbeak on the roost, and there was some pretty insistent jostling of BB, who has just made herself a fixture against one of the walls for the last three days. I couldn't tell if Hope was trying to snuggle up or knock her off. Maybe a bit of both. BB again stood her ground, but may have ended up sleeping standing up squished against the wall. No obvious pecking of each other observed.

The Easter Egger that I got seems very BIG. I verified her hatch date, and I'm assuming they told me the truth, but she just looks much bigger than my SG survivor. Perhaps it is all the fluffy feathers. When I picked her up she didn't feel too much heavier, but she looks it. I didn't think they were a larger breed, but both the Pullet and the 2 week chick I got that were EE were bigger than the other ones the same age. I was a bit worried when I put her in the pen. But she seems to have a pretty laid back personality, which is a blessing, and hopefully will help balance Buckbeak out. I'm not sure who will end up dominant once Hope gets settled in...BB never had that position in her old flock, but it was good to see her acting like more of her old self with another chicken around. Thanks again for your advice--I appreciate you taking the time.
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
6,310
12,114
596
USA
I'm so glad it worked!

When you're the one in the middle of a situation, it can seem overwhelming, and hard to figure out what to do. And you were right, most of the usual advice was for situations that do not quite match yours. :)
 

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