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Reintroducing a hen - obstacles so far

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by RoseCassFarm, Dec 27, 2013.

  1. RoseCassFarm

    RoseCassFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    How many posts can I make in a series of a few weeks before I'm kicked out for spamming? lol I feel like I'm posting way too often.

    Anyway, I have a small flock of five hens -- three EEs and two Buff Orps. They're nine months old and have a coop and enclosed run. About two weeks ago, I had to bring one Orp, Nugget, in when she came out of the coop limping. From my observations, she was the top hen. Since then, my other Orp (previously my sweet bottom-ranking hen), Jojo, has apparently found her inner-tyrant and taken the place at the top of the pecking order.

    A few days ago, I tried bringing Nugget back into the run. Bad idea -- she was still limping slightly. Jojo attacked her before she even had her feet on the ground and drew blood from a few bites to her comb. I brought Nugget back inside.

    A couple of days later, I thought I'd try to let her have some outside time on the OUTSIDE of the run so that the other girls could see her but not get near her...yeah, that didn't work. The girls immediately ran to the side of the run where Nugget INSISTED on hanging out right next to the wire. Jojo puffed herself up and was getting really angry, trying to peck at Nugget through the wire. Nugget, now walking perfectly and apparently feeling like her old self, didn't back down to the challenge and started reciprocating pecking...and drew blood from JOJO'S comb. ARG!! I brought Nugget back in then brought Jojo in to clean off the blood (since my EE, Lucy, noticed droplets on the wire and started getting a little taste of them and then started eyeing Jojo.)

    So now I'm sort of in limbo --

    I know there's the option of putting Nugget's cage in the run so they can get used to each other...but now I'm foreseeing a lot of pecking between the bars.

    I know there's also the option of putting her in to roost at night but that freaks me out, lol. I'm just seeing a blood bath between her and Jojo.

    Someone had suggested bringing another hen in from the coop, letting them get reacquainted, and trying to reintroduce the pair instead of just one -- would that be a viable option? If I went with this, should I take Jojo or would I just be asking for trouble by flipping the pecking order around again?

    I'm at a point where Nugget really needs to go back out, lol. Between the mess of bedding, the smell, and the effect its all having on my respiratory system, it's just time that she rejoin her sisters. I'm desperate for some suggestions.
     
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Good morning,

    I never separate my chickens, because it is too stressful on them when you try and put them back. A limping foot will get better in the coop, as easily as in your home. Chickens really need to be outside in my opinion. I don't doctor my flock, it is too expensive, too labor intensive, and darn poor results. If they get better, 10 to one it was not your doctoring, but rather they just did it on there own. A little blue kote will keep them from pecking at a bloody spot, but I have never had one. Keep them healthy with good food, plenty of space, clean water and anything that is not healthy get out of the flock.

    But as to your problem, pick a middle of the flock hen and put the two together for two days, if they get along, put them in the flock at night.

    Take a look at your run set-up, is there multiple levels? If not, add a box, or a pallet up on cement blocks, add an outside roost. It helps chickens get along if they can get away from each other. It will look like the run is cluttered, but it will give them more space, and more exercise if they are jumping up on the different levels.

    Mrs K
     
  3. RoseCassFarm

    RoseCassFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 23, 2013
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    Thank you so much for your help!! I'm getting desperate over here -- I have terrible allergic reactions and asthmatic symptoms to dust and dander, so you can imagine how I'm feeling of late, lol.

    Should I just put her and the other hen in together straight away or keep them separate but in view of one another at first and then put them together?

    If it was summer (and if I wasn't a totally newbie to chickens and knew better than this, lol), I might not have taken her out of the group, but it was the morning after an icy winter storm and I was worried that she'd further injure herself :-/ Now I'll know better for minor injuries! lol

    Its funny that you mentioned adding some stuff for them to jump onto -- just the other day, after reading about ideas for helping with winter boredom, I tried to put a log in the run for them to sit on...they flipped out and wouldn't come out of the coop with the log in there, lmao! I think I'll have to try again with normal wood.
     
  4. jak2002003

    jak2002003 Overrun With Chickens

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    If she is better, just put her back with the flock. She will be fine.

    They have to fight a bit to remind each other of their place in the pecking order.

    They will puff up, make noise, jump at each other and peck each other combs and chase about a bit, then it will stop.

    They can't kill each other, or seriously injure each other - not like roosters. If they have space, the looser will just run off to recover and everyone will calm down.

    Let them fight it out.

    If you don't, then there is no peaceful way to let them get back together no matter what you do. Its part of their nature. Any wounds to the combs are superficial and will heal very quickly.
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    When you add new stuff to the run, they'll be very suspicious at first, just leave it there and eventually someone will get brave enough to go investigate. That time right there is a form of mental stimulation for them, they'd do it naturally if not confined. It's a lot of fun watching them explore something new in their world!

    I'd also just put all the birds together and let them hash it out. A little bit of torn comb isn't that bad, they bleed like stink, just like a scalp wound does for us, but no real damage. Some blue-kote later in the day and everyone will be good to go. Plus, sounds like you need this to be over, in more ways than one!

    Make sure there are hiding places, and put either that log back in there for a distraction or some favorite treat. Put the separate hen back at the same time and wish them well.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. RoseCassFarm

    RoseCassFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Lol it was too funny seeing them all freak out over the log, but now that you mention it, the distraction might work perfectly. The other day Nugget laid an egg and was just about to start squawking when I tossed in a handful of blueberries and it distracted her from ever making her announcement, hehe!

    Last night I brought in her old buddy, Ethel, to see if I could pair them up and send them both back together. They watched each other for a bit. I threw some corn for them. They went for it, Nugget jumped on her and pulled out a few feathers and they went about their eating with Ethel clearly aware of her lower rank. Nugget is definitely her rough and tumble old self again!!

    They slept together in the rabbit cage last night and I'm thinking of just putting them out in the run this morning before I let the other girls out...and then i'll also be bringing along some treats and that good ol' log for distraction.

    I was under the impression that if they saw blood on each other that they'd injure the bleeding hen more?
     
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    In my experience the blood is one of those very iffy things. Blood on skin, like a sore/wound, seems to draw the others. Blood on a comb, not so much. Keep in mind I have pretty limited experience with birds and wounds, so take that as you will. But a few drops of blood doesn't necessarily turn them into cannibalistic monsters, and a quick spray of blue-kote does wonders.
     
  8. RoseCassFarm

    RoseCassFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Ahh, good to know about skin vs comb! I'm super new to chickens -- I've only had mine since March -- so you're light years ahead of me in knowledge! :)
     
  9. RoseCassFarm

    RoseCassFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Okay, so here's an update (for anyone at all interested):

    I bit the bullet yesterday morning. It needed to happen -- she was fine and my lungs were TERRIBLE.

    Before I brought them out, I went into the run and set up a sort of makeshift roost from cinder blocks and wooden posts and hauled in the log from the other day and a tree branch that runs almost the length of the run.

    I put Nugget and Ethel into the run and prepped a bag of mealworms. Then I opened the coop, tossed the worms, and watched.

    No one, besides Jojo, seemed to care at all.

    I was VERY surprised to see that, when Nugget and Jojo finally started to duke it out, Jojo WON. This is the chicken that has been at the bottom of the pecking order since BIRTH. We brought her home and she slept off to the side by herself most of the time. She's always had the most mild and meek personality -- as a chick, she was the only one who would sit calmly in my hands. Even when they moved to the coop, I'd often see her sleeping by herself while the rest were piled together in a corner. I really can't fathom how in the hell she managed to bully her way to the top of the pecking order! [​IMG] She's really the most unlikely ruler of the bunch.

    Every once in a while, I'd look outside and see Nugget sitting in the run while the rest of the girls were in the coop. [​IMG]

    Even more pitiful, when I went out yesterday evening to close up the coop, I actually found Nugget sitting in the run in the dark! I had to carry her into the coop where she walked around like, "Where the hell am I??" Everyone sort of looked around at her -- Lucy, Jojo, and Bob (yes, a girl, lol) were huddled together on one side and poor Ethel was all alone on the other side. I had to lift Nugget onto the roost and when I lifted my flashlight to take a peek at them she immediately jumped down and ran over to me, lol. I think she's completely confused at the moment. I tired to lift her onto the roosting bar again and she just danced around on my hands as if she'd never been up there before in her life. I had to climb into the **** coop and place her up there beside Ethel! lol

    When I let them out this morning, she was there waiting for me at the door. There were a few nips on her comb -- no doubt from Jojo -- and while the rest of the girls ran around the run looking at things, she hopped onto the tree branch next to me and looked at me expectedly. I think she's forgotten how to be a chicken, lmao!

    I'm sure that she'll be fine, but as a typical mama, I feel guilty -- did I spoil the outdoor chicken out of her? lol I'm sure I didn't, but still!
     
  10. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    She'll adjust to being a chicken again. Just give it time.
     

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