Reintegration to the flock in cold weather.

JHH3

Chirping
Dec 7, 2020
98
142
86
North West Wisconsin
I have an Australorp hen that suffered a neck injury about 3 weeks ago, she's fully healed now but has been separated from the flock for the entire 3 weeks.

She's staying in the mudroom now where the average temperature is 40F, though I can leave a window open at night and get it down to freezing 32 degrees.

I want to reintegrate her into the flock but I'm concerned with the time it'll take for it to happen and the current daily temperature range. The high temps for the day are averaging in the 20's and the lows overnight are in the single digits, it doesn't get up into the 20's until mid-day.

There's snow on the ground so half of the flock stays inside the coop at any given time and they all usually stay in the coop if it's 17 degrees or under outside.

If it were warm, I'd just put her in a wire cage in the coop for a couple days and then let her out but I don't really want to do that with it being this cold. The coop temperature reads in the teens most of the time at night when it's really cold outside, but that's up higher in the coop and I don't know how much colder it would be on the floor where the cage would have to be. I don't know what kind of drafts there are at floor level, if any.

There's also the consideration of the space the cage takes up and the fact that a good portion of the flock is already spending a lot of time in the coop due to the cold and I'm feeling like using a cage over a couple days isn't going to work very well. I think it's going to stress them out too much. I do have a smaller, more sealed up animal crate that she's sleeping in now that I could use, but I question how effective that would be when they wouldn't be able to interact with her much while she's in there.

I'm thinking about picking a warmer day this week, letting her sit in a wire cage in the chicken yard for half the day while the rest investigate her then giving her the option of going out while I sit out there watching her to make sure she's not picked on too much. See if she can hold her own well enough to spend the night and rejoin the flock. Or is that too much to hope for?

Any other ideas for reintegrating a former flock member into a flock when it's cold and snowy? Or should I just wait?

I'd rather not have a chicken in the mudroom until spring, but I'd rather have a live healthy one in the mudroom than a dead or re-injured one.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
9,483
13,175
656
western South Dakota
A lot depends on the chicken, but I would quit worrying about the temperature range. I live in SD, and our temperatures fluctuate like that all the time, two days ago we were 64 degrees, last night in the upper teens. Birds can handle a wide range of temperature changes.

But I WOULD worry about the reintroduction to the flock. She is going to be a stranger to them. I would go with the wire cage in the coop. Bed it deeply, and maybe put a roost in it if you can, but I would not fret about that. I would not worry about the temperatures unless they were falling to -15 or colder. I would put her in there a couple of days before your nice day comes, then turn her out on the nice day later in the morning.

Another trick that I have had very good luck with, is to turn out the main flock into the yard, let the strange bird be in the run/coop by herself or with just ONE other bird. Feed along the fence if you can. And then let the main flock in as close to dark as you can. The urge to fight is nearly equal to the urge to roost.

Do have hideouts in your run, (so many are just bare open rectangles that I see on here) do have places birds can get out of sight of each other. Such as pallets, ladders, sawhorses, roosts, old chairs, old totes or boxes, or small pieces of plywood for mini walls. If you don't have this 'clutter' then add it, if you do have the clutter, rearrange it so it is a bit strange to everyone.

Place your feed bowls, so that a bird eating at one station, cannot see a bird eating at another.



Mrs K

I
 

JHH3

Chirping
Dec 7, 2020
98
142
86
North West Wisconsin
A lot depends on the chicken, but I would quit worrying about the temperature range. I live in SD, and our temperatures fluctuate like that all the time, two days ago we were 64 degrees, last night in the upper teens. Birds can handle a wide range of temperature changes.

But I WOULD worry about the reintroduction to the flock. She is going to be a stranger to them. I would go with the wire cage in the coop. Bed it deeply, and maybe put a roost in it if you can, but I would not fret about that. I would not worry about the temperatures unless they were falling to -15 or colder. I would put her in there a couple of days before your nice day comes, then turn her out on the nice day later in the morning.

Another trick that I have had very good luck with, is to turn out the main flock into the yard, let the strange bird be in the run/coop by herself or with just ONE other bird. Feed along the fence if you can. And then let the main flock in as close to dark as you can. The urge to fight is nearly equal to the urge to roost.

Do have hideouts in your run, (so many are just bare open rectangles that I see on here) do have places birds can get out of sight of each other. Such as pallets, ladders, sawhorses, roosts, old chairs, old totes or boxes, or small pieces of plywood for mini walls. If you don't have this 'clutter' then add it, if you do have the clutter, rearrange it so it is a bit strange to everyone.

Place your feed bowls, so that a bird eating at one station, cannot see a bird eating at another.


Mrs K

I

Sorry, it's hard for me to not worry about the cold temps, it's my first winter with chickens in a new coop setup and I just lost a chicken for unknown reasons a month ago. All I do know is that she died cold and alone in a crate in the coop because I was trying not to take her out of the flock so I wouldn't have to reintegrate her. She probably would have died anyway, but I don't know that leaving her out didn't contribute to her death.

That said, I think I'm more concerned with space issues leaving the cage in the coop for a couple days. It's an 8x10 coop with 22 chickens (not counting her) in it and they tend to like to stay inside when it's cold and snowy outside, naturally a snow storm is coming tomorrow night. There's only one place to put the cage in the coop and the cage is pretty large, based on past experience they aren't going to be happy to have it in there.

Unfortunately, I only have a coop and an open yard, shooing them all out of the coop and using your other method probably isn't doable given that most of them don't like being outside this time of year. If the ground wasn't frozen I could probably rig something up with my premier1 nets but it's not possible at the moment.

I do have a few hiding places out in the yard, a couple of pallets and a wooden dog house. She'll have options if she needs to escape, besides she's fully capable of going over the fence if she's motivated enough.

Talking this out makes me feel better about the process, I guess it's just part of learning the ropes and building infrastructure for dealing with things. Summer projects will include re-configuring things to make this sort of thing easier.
 

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