Only One Chicken Left... Not Sure What to Do

MLchickens

Chirping
6 Years
Aug 31, 2013
4
1
52
Hi! I haven't done this in a while, so I'm really sorry if I'm posting in the wrong place. So, some neighborhood dogs got out and chased my chickens earlier this week. They didn't catch them or hurt them, but one of them (Christine) ran off and hasn't come back. I've been looking all over for her, but it's been two days and I don't think she is coming back.

My problem is that I only have one chicken left (Oreo) and she is a seven year old cuckoo maran. I know chickens generally need other chickens to be happy, although Oreo seems to be ok so far. My original flock of four is down to one, and I can't bear to give her to someone else, but everything I have read says to introduce new chickens around the same age. Personally, I would much rather introduce younger chickens so I can start getting eggs again. Oreo has always been really sweet and docile, but also on the bottom of the pecking order. I'm worried she'll get bullied if I try to introduce new, younger chickens. These are the first chickens I have ever had, so I've never tried introducing new chickens before. Should I let Oreo live out her retirement solo, or does anyone have advice for what to do?

Any help is appreciated! Thank you so much!
 

MickWithChicks

Songster
Jul 18, 2017
249
587
192
East Coast of Australia
I'd find an older hen for her to be friends with, and let them sort out the pecking order between themselves.

If you want chickens who lay eggs, I'd also add some chicks at this time. I'm not sure where in the world you are, but if it's summer in your hemisphere, keep them in a cage in the run during the day so they can become acquainted while they're chicks, and bring them in under heat overnight. Once they're feathered you can run them with the older hens no worries. The older hens will remain top of the pecking order.
 
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Mrs. K

Free Ranging
Nov 12, 2009
8,623
10,285
636
western South Dakota
I would just get chicks. She won't like them, but if you put them in a safety zone, have some hideouts, and get them out there with her before they are very old, it will go pretty well.

With a hen that age, the end is very possible at any time. A full size bird that is younger, could really make her last days miserable, IMO. A lot depends on how active she is.
 

nao57

Songster
Mar 28, 2020
1,317
1,326
160
So...

I would highly recommend you replenish your chickens.

We tend to think of chickens and ducks as pets, and we care about them. But they are survival tools. And there's a lot of social unrest going on. Having survival tools and thinking about it practically is really good for you right now.

In saying that I'm quite normal and not an extremist. Just people aren't trustworthy now. People used to be more practical than they are now. And now almost nobody knows how to grow their own food. And even if nothing happens with food shortage rumors, when people don't know how to grow their own food, or take care of themselves this makes them less trustworthy to rely on.

So its good to have tools in your bag (chickens.)

...

So there's also things you can do to mitigate getting a flock used to each other. I've also done a bit of this myself.

I had recently added 2 ducklings to my other flock about 2 months ago. I followed a strategy of getting them used to each other with supervision slowly with controlled amounts of time where I could keep them in control. (I didn't come up with this myself. Others have already done it and talked about it. Credit goes to them.) This let them get used to each other with less problems.

This type of doing it can work (but the newer flock members should probably still have a recommended size requirement first. Going in there as brand new week old chicks is against what people recommend.)

So you can do this;

First, have the chicks at a recommended age to be outside first and then whatever you think they need to survive.

Then, the first day mix them only together about an hour with supervision. Then the next day increase that amount of time. During this part of the phase do not have them sleep together yet.

After about a week of them slowly getting used to each other, then you could at that point have them try their first sleepover. (The amount of time to get to this phase should be determined by your observations.)

Now there are a few dynamics that can affect this. In my flock, I have larger peking ducks, bigger than the chickens. And this has kept the chickens from getting too aggressive. Plus, the chickens are by nature more aggressive than my ducks. So this kept them in check to have ducks sort of dominate because they are more social.

You may have to do your own adjustments based on what works.

But you could try stuff to make this work. And you could have separate pens for awhile.

It does help in mixing flock to have them learn to coexist with others younger I think. If you bring in adult chickens to join your existing flock I'm not sure how that would work, because its easier when younger. (My first ducklings all came from the same hatch for example.) And older chickens would have been used to a different dynamic that you might not want. But you are weighing that also against how soon to get or not get eggs if you are starting all over with nothing.

My sister in law told me that sometimes the animal control gets chickens that people don't want. You could try to see if those have existing hens that are already at laying age. (But it will be harder to socialize them as older hens. And you won't be able to know their age, which could be a problem, since people say laying production drops as they get older.)

Also one hypothesis I have is, I wonder if acceptance would have been easier if a hen would be tricked into being broody at hatching age before putting in the new chicks (if someone were doing new chicks to replace). But some people will say this could be worse if done at the wrong age points of the broody hen's (fake?) eggs, etc, with new chicks being added. (?)
 

nao57

Songster
Mar 28, 2020
1,317
1,326
160
Oreo is an older hen so she will probably be more docile with any chicks you get. I would gets some young chicks and see if she wants to adopt them, as mothering can help relieve stress for a chicken. That way you can get younger chicks and get your older hen some friends.
Sounds like a neat idea. :p
 

Oncoming Storm

Songster
Jun 3, 2019
1,067
1,579
196
My flock ranges from chickens who are four years old to a month old. If you introduce younger chicks, she might take advantage of it and make herself boss. My oldest chicken struts her way through the flock like she owns the place. Ain’t no rooster gonna tell her what to do!
 

mmmchicken

Chirping
Nov 21, 2012
26
34
99
Wisconsin
I was just in your position. We had a single chicken (7 yr old Easter Egger) for almost a year - through a cold WI winter by herself. She free-ranged. Hung out with the barn cat, mostly at a distance. Hung out in the garage with my husband when he was in there. Hung out with some wild birds when I tossed food out to them all. Totally fine... and now we just got our newest flock (now 4 weeks old - 22 of them several varieties) and she's now cooped up with them, hanging out, pretty alright and is "dealing" with their antics. :) She definitely is the king of the roost! ha! Rest assure your chicken will be fine, but having a new set come in is a good thing too. If you get them as chicks, I think that is easier on old hens and a good chance that they will take to them as their mother. We actually kept ours for 3 weeks in a brooder with several interactions with her safely, then I decided to coop them up with her in the coop (yes heating lamp etc..). It worked, with her pecking reminders to not get too too close as she isn't exactly "thrilled" (I honestly think she misses her free ranging - only temporary!) but tolerates them and every day has been a little better. Now I just am waiting for them to get big enough to get out and enjoy eating up all the dang bugs I have!! :D
 

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