Poor old hen picked on and won't sleep in coop anymore - what can I do?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by 2overeasy, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. 2overeasy

    2overeasy Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 28, 2010
    Birchwood, TN
    I have one old hen - Aunt Bea. She is at least 5 and probably older, as I'm pretty sure the guy who gave her (and 4 others) to me was pawning off all his oldest hens on me. She is the only one left of those original 5 and I got her 4 years ago.
    Anyway, I noticed a couple of weeks ago that she was spending her days down in the barn, only going to up the hill to the coop right at dusk, after the rest of them went in. A few days ago the rooster and a few other hens were in the barn, too, and I saw him just attack her - not to mount and mate, just brutally attack.
    So I thought maybe something was wrong with her. I brought her in a kept her a couple of days checking for a stuck egg, worms, blood, anything. Spoke to the vet. Got a fecal. As far as he can see, the hen is healthy. (I posted about her a few days ago).
    So I put her back out today with everyone. I saw her later in the day in the barn and a few other hens were there. I threw them a couple of handfuls of horse grain. Everyone pecked happily at the grain, including her, everyone getting along.
    Tonight when I went to shut them in for the night I did my count and counted only 27 - Aunt Bea wasn't there. So I took the flashlight down to the barn and found her hunkered down behind a feed bin. So I brought her back into the house to sleep in the kennel.
    I don't know what the problem is now. I'm stumped. I can't very well let her start living in my house. And I would worry about her sleeping the barn. She was pretty well hidden (I just knew places to look), and she wouldn't be easy to get to by an owl or anything else. However, I can't be sure so I hate to let her sleep there every night.
    And it seems such a sad way for her to live out the rest of her life, you know?
    I won't give her to anyone because there's no one I trust to take as good care of her as I do.
    My chickens have it made: 10 fenced acres for free ranging and a predator-proof coop and lots of treats, goodies, etc.
    Please tell me what to do. I do put a chicken in the freezer now and then but I won't do that to her.
  2. leonphelps

    leonphelps Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 15, 2011
    Bucks County PA
    is there a simple way to cut the run down so she would be secluded from the others?
  3. 2overeasy

    2overeasy Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 28, 2010
    Birchwood, TN
    Well, what's interesting about that suggestion is, that until this past summer, the coop was divided into 2 sections. It is a total of 10X24 feet. We wanted to open it up to give everyone more room and hang an extra feeder/water container and add new nesting boxes to accommodate the growing flock. It was a huge job! So now it's one large space.
    I have a new small coop I bought that I haven't yet put together. My goal is to put it together in a separate place with a covered run to use as a nursery - when I order chicks, or when a hen goes broody. But like I said, it's still in the boxes.
    And I don't have time to put it together right now. Do you think I could just bring her in the house to sleep every night then put her out in the morning? She's got plenty of places to go to stay away from the rooster.
    I know to cull a bully - I've done it before. But, except for picking on her, he's a really good rooster and is very vigilant for predators and protective of the hens.
  4. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    Obviously you love that hen. Given your situation, bringing her in every night sounds like a plan. I started to say just put her in the coop but that roo would likely beat her up if you did.
  5. terryg

    terryg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 5, 2007
    New England
    Flock dynamics change as hens age (I keep my girls into old age and have a lot of experience with this.) I suggest you provide her with a dog crate or old rabbit hutch to sleep in at night. One that can be closed up from predators. Put her in there a few nights in a row and she'll quickly learn that it is her safe place.

    (I have a blogpost about the joys of keeping old hens here: http://www.hencam.com/henblog/2011/10/old-hen-young-hen/)

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