Problems Reintroducing Chicken Back to The Flock

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Knucker Hatch Farms, Feb 3, 2010.

  1. Knucker Hatch Farms

    Knucker Hatch Farms In the Brooder

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    Nov 29, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    Hi there chicken friends,

    I posted almost a month ago on a chicken that was badly injured from a predator attack. We have successfully nursed her back to health and she looks fantastic! Her vent has healed, her feathers are all coming back and, and except for the loss of an eye, she looks terrific. Unfortunately, during the process of healing, she doesn't want to have anything to do with being around a flock of chickens and hides or jumps on myself in fear. I have tried many times to bring her back to the coop, and she just does worse out there barely jumping out of the nest box to eat or drink (she'll only eat or drink if I am present). So, I've obviously become the alpha rooster to her. She's back in the house now, just so that she'll eat normal.

    I know the loss of an eye is definitely part of the problem. Anyone face this issue before. I love her dearly, but am I stuck with a house chicken? Anyone tried adding baby chicks to help a chicken snap out of it?

    Thanks so much~

    Mama Knucker Hatch
     
  2. Country4ever

    Country4ever Songster

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    Oct 26, 2007
    Do the other chickens attack her, or is she just scared of them?
    I think what I would do is put a pen inside the coop. Make sure she is well protected from the others (on the top too), and put food and water in there. You could use a dog crate if you have one. Put it in a corner, so she can get as far away from the chickens as possible.
    I would just leave her there for several days and see if she gets more adjusted. Then I would let her in with the others, only when you are around, for a few days. If its just a matter of her being scared of the others, she will get over that. But if its an issue of the others hurting her, then you have to take it more slowly.
    In my experience, the other chickens always get used to the one who is being reintroduced.......unless they are still sick. chickens know if one of them is sick. They just know.....even if they look healthy to us. And they will always pick on them. And there might be a big fight between her and the other chickens, but it usually passes.
    I say go slowly in stages. Put her in a crate in the coop with food and water and let her do that for awhile first.
     
  3. jennh

    jennh Songster

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    Jun 21, 2007
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    Whenever I introduce new chickens to each other, I always have them separated by a fence. That way they get to see each other, and become accustomed to each other, but they can't get at each other to hurt anyone. I have done this 4 times, and have never had a problem. Also, do you free-range? I have found that the smaller their territory, the more they try to protect it.

    Jen
     
  4. Knucker Hatch Farms

    Knucker Hatch Farms In the Brooder

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    Nov 29, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    Thank you for your replies! I agree with both of your ideas to put her in an enclosed area within the coop. We do free range, and the coop is pretty much empty all day except for the occasional chicken hopping in a nest box. When I did try to reintroduce her I did it at night and put her up on the roost with the others, which seemed promising in that all behavior was normal (hers and the others). However, during the day she would just stay in the nest box. Her behavior is odd in that if I sit outside with her on the ground she calls out like a young chick who strays away from the group and is trying to find her way back to the others. And she does anything she can do to hide her head in a crevice of my jacket. The roosters freak her out more than any of others. Can't blame the girl for not wanting to get jumped on when she can't see them coming half the time!

    She suffered quite a bit of trauma on the one side of her head and I'm beginning to wonder if both her hearing in addition to her sight is affected on that side. I think I'll give her just a little more time to get all of her feathers back in place (avoid any picking by the others) and then try again with a pen in the coop. Just wish she could enjoy a sunbath with the others (which she does enjoy doing if I sit with her) other than hanging out in a dark coop.

    Warm Regards,

    Mama Knucker Hatch
     
  5. jennh

    jennh Songster

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    Hi, again! When I said I kept them separated by a fence, I did it outside. I have never had to do it in the coop. They are just so focused on roosting at night that I have not had to worry about pecking at night. I just kept them separated during the day OUTSIDE ;o) That way, as I said, they could see each other, but not hurt each other. Eventually, they become accustomed to each other, and just accept the others.
    Maybe if it's only 1 chicken doing the picking, separate just the chicken that's doing the picking, and put your injured hen in with the other hens.

    Jen
     
  6. Country4ever

    Country4ever Songster

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    Oct 26, 2007
    Hi again,
    I was thinking of a couple other things...
    I had a coon attack last summer and lost 2 hens and one was badly wounded, and all of my hens were subdued and a bit anxious for several months after that. So she just might still be suffering from PTSD!
    Also, chickens hide away from the others when they're not feeling up to par. Maybe its a combination of these 2 things. I think she will eventually be fine. Unfortunately, the longer we keep chickens apart, the harder the reintroduction.
    Also, if she were apart only a night or 2, (and was very healthy and strong), I probably wouldn't hesitate putting her on the roost at night to reintroduce her. But I definitely wouldn't do it in this situation, unless you were going to be there before they woke up. Lots could happen after they woke up.
    If nobody is picking on her, I think I would just leave her hide out in the coop and see what happens. That's sort of a reintroduction, even if she's timid.
     
  7. bargain

    bargain Love God, Hubby & farm

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    Bowdon, GA
    Hang bits of scraps for them to pick on ....fat back or small cabbages... Best of luck
     
  8. Knucker Hatch Farms

    Knucker Hatch Farms In the Brooder

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    Nov 29, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    Thanks again for the additional thoughts. She really is an odd "duck" right now, hanging out with herself in the house. She's started clucking about more often, and even does what we call "The Yummy Call" (when a rooster or mother with chicks has found a tasty morsel to share). [​IMG] She needs to get back with those chickens before she forgets she is a chicken!

    I do agree that even though she looks great, she is still very much shell shocked. An opossum or raccoon got past a space on the ceiling where the hardwire was sagging a tad after a few staples fell out. I never imagined an animal could squeeze through that spot, and get out again to boot! She was attacked as she stayed in the nest box that night, so it surprises me that she would even want to go back in there to hide. I'll give her another week to work on the post traumatic stress, and try again with a slower 24 hour protected introduction.

    I'm just so proud of her for making it this far. [​IMG]

    Mama Knucker Hatch
     
  9. tiger 123

    tiger 123 Hatching

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    Mar 8, 2013
    Thank you for each of your advice. The one that I tried with a hen that I had to operate on with Bumblefoot (both feet) was separated from the other three hens for four/five days. When I tried to reintroduce her to the flock the head hen attacked and so did one other. Then I read that if I tried taking the quiet hen and put them together it would all work. We put our operated on hen in the coop with the gentle one. That meant leaving the head hen and her rather aggressive friend outside in the coop run for the night. The head hen was very unhappy. Then in the morning I let the smaller aggressive hen back in with the other two. I left head hen out of the circle. She did not like this. After about an hour I reintroduced the head hen back in with the other three and all is well. They are all now freely scratching around the garden as if nothing happened. Thank you it worked! Now we are wondering if we could introduce a couple of new hens into the flock using the same approach -- not just yet as want want ours to settle first.
     

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