Part 2 - 9 month RIR hen taking a sudden dislike to flockmate, flockmate acting unusually submissive

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by SusanD, Dec 18, 2015.

  1. SusanD

    SusanD Chillin' With My Peeps

    So, after some observation, I think the squabbling between my two hens (Red and Blackie) was due to space issues when settling down to roost. I watched for a couple of nights, and Red is somewhat restless and takes awhile to decide where she wants to be for the night. I suspect this annoys the other two, who don't like being disturbed after they've flopped down for the night.

    Unfortunately, they are regressing somewhat - I thought I had them well trained to perch at night and to stay out of the nestboxes. However, my Dad and have both caught Red in a nest box. Last night, both Red and Blackie were in the nestboxes. So, we made the decision to block the nestboxes off again (I'm hoping they'll lay there in the spring. Tonight when I came home, both Red and Blackie were laying in our shavings. I prodded them up onto the roost, and left when they all seem contented. I suspect this is their way of trying to solve the space issue.

    Besides deciding this is a space issue, is there anything else I should rule out (red mites on our perch, or foot issues that would make it uncomfortable for them to perch)?

    Does it harm an adult bird not to perch (I assume its better for them than just laying down, but now that I think of it, I can't say why)?

    And I would appreciate your opinions - if it is a space issue, and my Dad is unwilling to allow me to hire someone to make a 3-4 coop, would it be kinder to rehome them? I would be sad to see them go, but maybe they would be better off in the long run. And my bargain with my parents was always that I was happy to take care of the hens, as long as they were doing well, but if they were not doing well, we would need to change things.
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    It sounds like you don't have enough roost options so they can get away from each other, either add another roost or put a divider in the middle of the one roost. A chicken will poop all night, so those sleeping on the floor will end up with poop stuck to themselves eventually. It's up to you to decide if you are providing a good home for your hens and if you want to continue to care for them, some can live 10-12 years.
     
  3. SusanD

    SusanD Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi,

    Thanks for your reply. To answer your questions, after taking care of them for 10 months, I do want to keep them (for the full 10 years), but not if it we can't resolve the space issues (and not at the cost of messy behinds - If nothing else, that sounds as though it could start an infection/raw patch of skin going [​IMG]). I did think that they were happy with the roost space they had, but they seem to have decided otherwise this winter (probably because they are spending more time cooped up). Given that my parents are co-owners of these chickens, it sounds as though its time to have a family discussion, so I think that will be my next step.[​IMG]

    PS - If we were to divide the existing roost in thirds using dividers would that help or would it make it more complicated do you think?
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2015
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    All chickens are different, what I always do is try something, than if it doesn't work I try something else until I find the right solution.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Posting pics of inside of coop would help us help you find a solution.
    I think you have one of those tiny coops?
    Have you modified the roost at all?
     
  6. SusanD

    SusanD Chillin' With My Peeps

    [​IMG]

    Here is a picture of the roost that we have now. With three hens on it, there is maybe an two to three inches of extra space on the roost (enough, so that they can either crowd together or spread out a little and about three inches between them and the door and three inches between them and the nest box. Please let me know if you have any creative ideas on modifying this :)

    I did talk to my parents, and they said that I had permission to rehome the chickens any time I decide to, but not to buy an new coop (I think my Dad thinks that I'm being silly, and the coop we have now is perfectly adequate). So buying a new coop is out, unless I were to buy one and surprise them, which I don't think would be right. So, given that they are not fighting that I know of (at least not since the first time), I am giving it a couple of weeks to see if I can retrain them to roost without prompting.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Rule of thumb, and a pretty good one, is 1 foot of roost per bird.
    They can sleep on less, but roosting time is a big squabbling time so they need some extra room to get settled.

    What are the exact dimensions of the inside of the coop(get out your tape measure)?
    A wider shot of inside coop, showing all walls and nest openings, would help with proposing a modification.
     
  8. SusanD

    SusanD Chillin' With My Peeps

    28 by 30 inches (not counting the nest boxes, or the run. Here is a picture from a different angle taken when they went to bed tonight. I have the nest boxes blocked off; they are behind the plywood board.


    [​IMG]


    And here is a picture of the nestboxes that was taken this summer, when Red was laying.


    [​IMG]

    I will try to get a picture of the whole thing if I can get the angle right and if that would be helpful. Now that I've done the measuring, I'm wondering if adding a second roost would be feasible (easiest solution if we can put them far enough apart) or if repurposinng the nest box space would work (It would get us to 3 feet, but we would need to raise the roof).
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    How old are these birds?
    Only one was laying this summer, but is not now?

    They fit on the roost OK....as the pic shows...... but, it is crowded in there.
    I don't think adding another roost is the solution, might only make it more crowded.

    Modifying to use the nest box space would be difficult, unless you are very handy...
    ...and if you're that handy, building larger coop would be the best solution.

    What I would try first would be to raise that roost..and make the roost a bit wider, more comfy.

    Use a 2x4 for roost and 1x boards for ends/feet, make over all height 8" and base width 10-12".
    [​IMG]


    By making roost higher you may keep them out of nests, by making roost wider they may be more comfortable on it.
    But keep in mind that roost time is squabble time, they are going to fuss and fight a bit every night when going to roost.
    Most flocks do this, mine do and they have lots of room. The more cramped, the more likely the roost rumble.

    Not much you can do with such a small coop, you may have to accept that they are not(all) going to sleep on the roost.
    If they continue to sleep in nest, you may just have to clean it out every morning....
    ....or wash all your eggs..
    .....or cover nests every evening and open after dark or early in morning.
     
  10. SusanD

    SusanD Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks, I will try raising the roost and/or going to a 2 by 4, and will let you know how the roost training goes. I think my Dad thought he had the roost size right (this is the size that was suggested to us, by the poulty vet that told us the roosts the coop came with were too small). If I am understanding right, it sounds like that is a minimum size and not a maximum?

    To answer your questions, they were hatched in February, so are around 10 months. The two red ones were laying this summer. The black one has never laid (I was planning to have her checked for internal laying or other problems if she doesn't start this spring).
     

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