Re-patriating a "house chicken"

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by swordgeek, Jun 23, 2010.

  1. swordgeek

    swordgeek Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 23, 2010
    Westford, MA
    I need some advice about adding birds to an existing flock. Specifically, I need to move an indoor bird back outdoors, and hopefully add a few pullets to the flock at the same time. The outside birds are a red cap (alpha hen), a partridge cochin hen, and a Polish roo. The inside bird (AKA, my "house chicken") is a crevecoeur. They're all just over 2 years old, from the same hatching.

    Yeah, about that house chicken... Always the bottom of the pecking order, she was separated from the rest of the group late last fall when she came down with bumblefoot. After 2 weeks of segregation we tried to re-patriate her, and the others (the alpha hen in particular) went NUTS on her. It seemed to me that it went beyond merely establishing pecking order - I was afraid they were going to kill her. I tried this repeatedly, and she came running back to me in fear every time. Finally broke down and brought her indoors, where she has been living very peacefully in a large cage for the night, with the run of the house during the day. I know, I never should have done that, but I learned my lesson! She follows us around like a puppy, sits next to me and the cat on the couch while I work, and enjoys her time outside with us. I do mix her outside with the others when they're free-ranging in the yard, but they get very territorial (vicious!) when she wanders into their run or coop. Well, after months of enjoying her company, my spouse has hit his limit for stepping in piles of poop. (She figured out immediately how to remove the chicken diaper we'd bought her.) So now she has to move back outside. The kids and I are devastated, and I'm scared to death about what the others might do to her.

    To ease the transition, and because I really love interesting chickens, I'm about to add 4 pullets to this very small flock of 2-year-olds, AND try to mix in our "house chicken" at the same time. One is a 6-month-old black silkie who seems very much like the crevecoer in temperament in our interactions with her - sweet, docile, loves being held. The others are a cuckoo marans and 2 ameraucanas, all about 6 weeks old. I'm building a divider in the coop so they can coexist for a little while before being mixed in completely, and still see/smell each other. I'm thinking of moving my indoor girl's cage out into the coop so she has her familiar setting (and her own perch) and setting it inside that divider, so she can bond with the younger birds but still have her own space. She does seem to like company.

    Do you think this plan is going to work? Or am I going to be blessed with a house chicken forever - or worse, a dead chicken?
     
  2. gallusdomesticus

    gallusdomesticus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 14, 2008
    Lynn Haven, FL
    I think your plan of dividing your chickens so the older girls can see and smell the new comers for awhile before they're intermixed sounds like a good plan. Since your house chicken is an adult, when all your birds are mixed together, the older hens may by-pass your house chicken to peck on the younger girls. Hen pecking is a fact of life and you just have to put up with it. I would keep an eye on your house chicken whenever they're all together. Good luck!
     

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