Reintroducing a chicken back to the flock/Introducing baby chick

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mi2bugz, Aug 2, 2014.

  1. mi2bugz

    mi2bugz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Background: 3 hens, 1 roo. 1 hen was taken out of the flock at about day 17 of being broody because the nesting box was too high for her babies. We did not know at the time that it was "best" to keep them in the coop in "view" of each other the whole time. We constructed a nursery coop for my younger daughter to manage the chick (only had 1 hatch).

    Now we are almost 6 weeks out and the mom is ready to leave her chick. The chick was picked on yesterday when it got too near one of the other hens while free ranging. For the last 2 weeks we have let mom and chick free range at the same time on the same acre of land as the rest of the flock while we were in the area. Sometimes they would be in site of each other and just feet away, others they were on opposite sides.

    Today we got a pullet friend for the lone baby chick and was transferring mom back to the main coop with the rest of the flock. We got a chick the same age as the chick we have. Or so they sellers said. Chick gets here and come to find out ours is much bigger. Probably close to double the new chicks size. During introductions of the 2 chicks the bigger one would peck the little one but never to the point we had to stop it but it did seem to be pecking when not provoked. The little girl just walked away. Due to this we did not leave the chicks together in the nursery until I could get some feedback from y'all. The new chick is in a dog crate in the nursery so they can still see each other.

    Now on to the issue of reintroduction of mom. There was never any contact between the other 2 hens and mom while they have free ranged for the last 2 weeks. We needed to hurry this pecking order issue along so we got the roo out of the main run and put the momma into the run. The top hen (BR) doesn't need to fight for the top spot. She has always just been given it. The other remaining hen (SLW) in the flock and the momma (NHR) had always remained so close in pecking order I hadn't figured out who exactly was in spot 2. Sometimes it would be the SLW walking away from NHR during a challenge and other times it would be the NHR walking away.

    When we put the NHR into the run the NHR ran to a corner and coward in it (neck down to the ground). The SLW of course came over and pecked at her. The NHR ran to another corner where the top hen was. It was only at this point that the top hen got into the fight. She got one peck in until my husband stepped in so it wouldn't be 2 on 1. NHR walked away from the SLW and BR. We let them all out of the run and gave them some scratch. The roo came along and "welcomed" the NHR to the group (if you know what I mean ;)). During this welcoming the BR puffed up and pecked at the NHR while she was mounted by the roo. We didn't let that continue so we stopped the BR hen. The SLW came over and puffed up to the BR for pecking the NHR. Then the SLW went and pecked the NHR. It didn't seem as brutal as I expected but it did bring blood to the NHR's comb. We put the momma back into the run with the chick.

    What should we do? How is it best to reintroduce the momma to the rest of the flock? Do we just keep repeating free ranging together (so no one feels cornered) and or force them together in the run to work it out? I am concerned about leaving them alone to roost at night because as soon as they get down from roosting in the am I am afraid that the NHR will act cowardly and the SLW will react to it or that the NHR will get ganged up on.

    Sorry if this is scattered or confusing. I just had surgery and am on pain killers ;). The surgery and injury is why we had to wait so long to try to reintroduce the momma to the flock.

    Thank you in advance for any and all assistance.

    Nicole
     
  2. mi2bugz

    mi2bugz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 8, 2013
    Waxahachie, tx
    Not sure if this post got lost in the thread? If it was too long? If no one had any suggestions? Not trying to be bothersome but still looking for answers if anyone happens to have any. Thank you!
     
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    oh boy! That is a mess.

    I hope you have space, cause this is what you need to do. Put the mamma hen back in the flock with everyone, rooster included. Put her in the coop after dark. In your coop/run, leave the coop open so that they can come and go into the coop or run as they want. Lean a pallet or some other large object up against a side wall, or create some other hideouts in the run. Make sure there are a couple of water and feeders. Go away and don't watch. A single bird is a difficult introduction, but if she is full grown, she will be fine if she can get away or out of sight.

    As for the chicks...... ugh, it is not good to have a bird alone, and yet, size is a huge issue at the chick stage. The best I can suggest is this, put them in one pen, but split the pen with some type of wire fencing that is big enough that the smallest chick can get through, but the largest chick cannot. This allows them to be together, and get used to each other, but allows an escape for the smaller bird. At about 12 weeks, they should be close enough in size that this will be over. However, you will need to keep the pair separate from the flock until they are 16-20 weeks old. Then introduce them as above.

    With the best intentions, you really do not understand chicken society. A lot of people do this very thing, separating the mamma from the flock and waiting until the chicks are several weeks old to reintroduce them. The thinking is that the chicks are stronger and bigger. And it is a wreck. One needs to understand hormones and chicken society. The broody hen's hormones are very powerful at hatch time. She will be meaner than a junk yard dog to any layer getting too close to her chicks. This puts her WAY to the top of the pecking order. And what she says goes. And the flock just gets used to the chicks. Later they may give them a peck, but won't kill them. By pulling the mama, she loses her pecking order in the flock, and will need to reestablish this with the flock. 5-6 weeks after hatch, her hormones have dropped, and as she is trying desperately to protect herself, the chicks are at the mercy of the flock. Not good.

    In the future, keep the mama with the flock. She will protect those chicks from the layers, and the flock remains one unit. Separating birds is generally not a good thing to do. It really upsets the society of the flock, and the pecking order needs to be readjusted each time you reintroduce. The flock does not recognize them. Chickens have a very small brain, and do not remember much.

    Mrs K
     
  4. mi2bugz

    mi2bugz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 8, 2013
    Waxahachie, tx
    Thank you so much. I did research on whether to leave the broody in with the flock or separate it. The consenses was to separate. Guess I just needed to listen to my husband who said....nature has a way of doing things. Chickens survived without our interference. I showed the posts to my husband and he began to second guess himself. So for now on we will listen to the farming tactics he used when on the farm 30 years ago lol. I am in touch with the breeder I got the little chick from. She has offered us a bigger one. Going to see if she has any way of taking this one back in :(.

    Lesson learned hard way and for now on letting nature do the work.
     
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    western South Dakota
    Thing is, a lot of people post on here, and they post what they think are good ideas for today. Can you lose a chick in the clutch in a flock? Yes. So as not to lose a single chick, they will separate, not realizing that there will be more problems later on. Many people go to extreme lengths to keep a bird alive. Just as we do with human babies. In the animal world, weak animals don't make it.

    Some people love each individual bird on this forum. Some people like having a flock of chickens, knowing that birds in the flock will come and go. Death is a big part of the reality of chicken raising. You are more than likely going to lose some. If you can expect that, you will get a lot more enjoyment out of chickens.

    Mrs K
     

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