Pullet is just not fitting in

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by cmlew99, Oct 20, 2014.

  1. cmlew99

    cmlew99 Chirping

    Apr 5, 2014
    Last Thursday (not this past Thursday, the one before that), I bought two pullets. I'm not sure that they are the same age, but they are from the same source. Previously they free-ranged all day long, with zero human contact. One of them, now named Cora, is a Rhode Island Red, and while bullied by my 24 week old BB hen and BO rooster fits in pretty nicely. The other, named Mabel (an Easter Egger), isn't so lucky. She looks smaller than Cora, and the lovely people here on BYC said she was between 17 to 20 weeks old. Here she is:

    The thing is, she isn't really fitting in. The day she was brought here, she escaped and spent three days free in my back yard. I have no earthly idea how she survived the hawks, cats, dogs, fisher cats, etc..., but thats a different story. Now that I finally tricked her into coming back, she has been hiding in the bottom of the coop, away from the other three.

    I've pretty much left her alone, but when I extend my hand with treats or feed she will shy away and freak out in the corner (meanwhile Cora now lets me pet her). Whenever Mabel tries to get close to my BO and BB, they run her off or peck her. But I haven't seen her try to get close in a day or two.

    Basically, I'm concerned. Is this just life at the bottom of the pecking order? Or will she eventually learn to venture out from under the A-Frame coop. Is it just because she has abruptly gone from free ranging to living in an enclosed run?

    Any advice on how to tame her/ how to help her fit in would be greatly appreciated. Help Mabel and I out!
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    I had some young pullets like that, production reds. They were some kids 4H project and were never handled much before I got them. They eventually found their place in the flock and some even climbed the pecking order ladder.
    If this pullet is not being relentlessly pecked and/or injured by the other birds and her crop is full at the end of the day, my advice would be to let her find her own way. I have three right now that are doing just that in a flock of juveniles that are all more....not aggressive, but active...than they are. I check in on them a couple of times a day and check their crops in the evening, but otherwise let them figure out their place.
    1 person likes this.
  3. evemfoster

    evemfoster Songster

    May 6, 2014
    NE, Wa.
    I had 2 like yours. All the rest of the flock was always chasing them away. When they got around 20 weeks they started fitting in. About the time their combs started getting a bit pink.

    Now they are acting like they were never the low hens on the totem pole and i have noticed in the last week they are usually the birds first to the feed. I think the New Hampshire is going to be the top hen soon.
    1 person likes this.
  4. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Mabel is frightened and lonely. Very rarely are chickens "loners". They truly are flock creatures, and even more important, they are most happy and content when they are part of a "unit" that is made up of other chickens they grew up with from chickhood. Chickens can sometimes have problems fitting in, but if they have others they know and trust, it gives them more self confidence than if they were alone as your Mabel is. For Mabel to find her place in this strange new flock, it's going to be extremely stressful for her, but she'll eventually figure out where she fits in.

    Is there any chance of finding another pullet from the place where you bought her that she was raised with as chicks? If you could find her one of her former brooder mates, you could transform her from this lonely creature to a much calmer pullet.

    As for taming her and getting her to trust you, if you're willing to spend time with her every day, it can be done. It will require a lot of patience. Try to get her alone away from the rest of the flock and quietly offer her a treat she can't resist, like meal worms or regular red worms. If she won't take them from your hand, try putting them on the ground in front of you, requiring Mabel to come up close to you to get them. Gradually, over several days, decrease the distance from you to the treats until she is required to get them from your hand if she wants them.

    After she's eating from your hand, gradually touch her while she eats. After she's comfortable being touched, it'll be easy to graduate to picking her up. During this process, as you offer her treats, use her name. Many chickens can learn to associate their name with getting treats, and then afterward, they will respond to their name when you call them.
    1 person likes this.
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    It's just going to take more time. Maybe a few months. She's not being hurt, or kept from eating, so there's really not much you can do. I will say it probably concerns you more than it concerns her. Animals seem to handle being the Omega much better than humans do.
    2 people like this.
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Ditto on the give her time....don't rush her or try to force her to be 'tame'.
    She has enough stress right now coming into maturity and merging with the new place/flock.

    Do you sit in the run and hand feed the other birds, just do that and she will catch on and join in eventually.

    I've found that EE's can be very skittish and also that sweet chicks can get skittish when coming up to point of lay, then some mellow back out after laying for a month or so.
    1 person likes this.

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