Pullet won't leave coop

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Kate E, Jun 30, 2017.

  1. Kate E

    Kate E In the Brooder

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    Jun 30, 2017
    Wisconsin
    We recently moved in to a home with a large coop and outdoor run in the yard. For 3 months I "babysat" the previous homeowners 3 hens while their home was being built. About a week ago they came to get their hens and I was sad to see them go so I decided to get some replacements and start my own flock. I found a woman that had about 150 free range birds and she was trying to thin out her flock. She had several that were born in early March (4 months old) and several 1-2 year olds. I chose one 4 month old and 4 one year olds and was on my way. I asked her before choosing my birds if they would have problems going from full time free range to part time free range (in the coop part time and in the yard part time) and she said no. I also asked her if there would be issues establishing a new flock with these birds that may or may not have been familiar with one another and also range in age. She said there would likely be some initial pecking order issues but that would sort itself out over time. The 4 one year old hens are getting along just fine but the 4 month old (easter egger) is being traumatized by a RIR (1 year old) so much so that she will not come out of the coop. I have been bringing her food and water in the coop and checking her in the morning and evening. She seems to roost fine with the other birds but refuses to socialize with them during the day and won't come out of the coop. I am worried about her getting enough food and water and also about being cooped up all day in the dark. I have considered getting her a companion of the same age but I am worried about doing that now, a week in to establishing my flock, and further disrupting the pecking order. Should I give it some more time and see if it works itself out? Should I force her out of the coop? Should I remove her or the RIR all together? Shes a sweet bird so I want to make sure I give her everything she needs. Any suggestions?
     
  2. Chickassan

    Chickassan Free Ranging

    I would get another little one and keep them both separate until they are big enough to establish a place in the pecking order.
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging 8 Years

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    You're experiencing the chicken social order. It's much more complex than simply a pecking order. Just as in junior high where kids who know one another prefer their own company to outsiders, there are cliques of chickens who were brooded and raised together, and when you put a chicken into this clique, you get a situation where the outsider is picked on.

    It would help if you got at least one other four-month old from the same brood this EE was from. They will know each other, chickens remember their mates for a long time even after separations, and it will help bolster the self confidence of this bullied pullet.

    Bringing in a strange new chicken will only make the situation worse. So that's the last thing you want to do.

    If you can't get another four-month old this EE is familiar with, you can help her by giving her a safe place to eat so she gets enough. The biggest danger in this situation is the EE not getting enough to eat, becoming run down and weak, and this will make her even less able to stand up to the bullies.

    Often, a little pampering and protection will help a bullied chicken gain self confidence to adjust to the aggression. You also may pull the lead bully out of the mix for several days, housing her out of sight, and that often reduces her rank and aggression.
     
  4. Chickassan

    Chickassan Free Ranging

    I got to ask. Why did you just get one little one and four big ones?
     
  5. Kate E

    Kate E In the Brooder

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    Jun 30, 2017
    Wisconsin
    I don't really have a good answer. My plan was to come home with 5-6 of them and she took me to see the smaller 4 month olds first. I chose the small EE from that group and one larger white hen that was in that coop with her- I assumed because they were together they were buddies. Anyway, I chose 3 hens from another group and was on my way. I have been in contact with the woman who sold me them and she has some other 4 month olds available from the same group so I think I am going to pick one up tonight. my only issue now is where to put them to keep them separate. How long can they be caged up in a smaller space?
     
  6. Chickassan

    Chickassan Free Ranging

    Well, if you get her a buddy from the same place and they get along well the little ones will likely just socialise with each other and might not even engage the older hens at all until they get big enough to get a spot in the flock. If everyone roosts together fine you might not even have to worry about separating your little ones.
     
  7. Kate E

    Kate E In the Brooder

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    Jun 30, 2017
    Wisconsin
    I am in contact with the woman who sold them to me and she has some other 4 mo. olds from the same brood available so I am going to pick one up tonight. When I reintroduce her to this new chicken should I do it separate from the coop she is currently in? Once they are reintroduced should I keep them separate from the other 4 hens for a while? Or, if the two seem to bond a bit and do okay can I just keep them in the same coop? Also, I may have access to a large dog crate big enough for a lab/ golden, would that be sufficient to keep the two pullets separate if needed or is that too cramped? Sorry, chicken novice here. I've read two books and searched high and low on the internet and can't seem to figure out what the best thing to do is.
     
  8. Kate E

    Kate E In the Brooder

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    Jun 30, 2017
    Wisconsin
    I haven't seen any issues with her roosting and I am checking them in the evening to make sure everyone is doing okay. I've seen her roosting with everyone every evening for the last week so that is encouraging. I haven't let them free range yet in the yard as I read I should keep them in their coop for 1-2 weeks so they know where "home" is when it's time for bed but I wonder if giving them space in the yard would help? Do you think it's too early for me to let them out and roam? Our property is about 1.25 acres.
     
  9. Chickassan

    Chickassan Free Ranging

    Just in my personal experience a few days is enough to keep them in the coop and run. Keep the little ones together in the coop during the day so they can get reacquainted for a couple of days while you let the big girls out in the yard. After two or three days let everyone out.If they have issues roosting together stick the small ones in the dog crate at night. Main thing is just keep an eye on everyone make sure it doesn't get too ugly.But yes I do think letting them out in the yard will help tremendously. The only reason I say keep the two little ones together in there for a couple of days is so the new one can get the idea of the coop and they can remember each other.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2017
  10. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging 8 Years

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    That's terrific that you're able to find another pullet of the same age and brood. Don't worry, they already bonded when being brooded, and other than a brief nod and a peck, they will remember each other and should be fine.

    What you might try is putting the newest pullet in with the pullet you got her for. I'd get a large dog crate and place it in the run so the older hens can see the two, but the two can be safe.

    This will help everyone get used to the idea of still a newer addition, and after a day or so, you can try letting everyone mingle. Let them all roost together at night, though.

    I'd try to provide a feeding station for the two younger ones where they can eat and drink in peace. I use an old card table in the run. Lift them up there at first so they know it's their place.

    I've had great success with this tactic to get younger chickens integrated into the flock without a lot of bullying. They use the table as a refuge. It's a variation of my panic room method for very small chicks which is a safe pen with chick size openings that the older chickens can't get through. But it wouldn't work since fourth-month olds are almost full grown and similar in size to the older ones.
     

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