reintroducing an injured hen to her flock

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by cindysyoung, Aug 14, 2011.

  1. cindysyoung

    cindysyoung New Egg

    5
    0
    7
    Aug 14, 2011
    Please, please help! I am a new chicken lover and have been raising 8 hens and a rooster since they were one day old; they are now 12 weeks. Several days ago one of our hens (Viola) was severely injured and was literally scalped. All of her scalp from her beak to her neck was pulled back. We have found absolutely nothing in the coop that could have caused this injury and our vet says the injury was not from pecking (as I suspect our rooster Norman). We found her alive in the coop but barely hanging on. It could not have been caused by a predator as they have no access. We struggled (for about a second) as to weather or not we were going to try to save her. Miraculously, our vet reattached the skin that he could saving everything but the use of one eye, and sent us home. I do know that the majority of people out there would not have attempted to save her, but we just had to give her a fighting chance. This was 3 days ago and she is thriving. Other than adjusting to having only one eye, she is perfect in every other way. She has been living in a crate in our family room and was put in the coop (in her crate) on the second day. She was so great today that we decided to let her sit on my lap while the others ran around as usual. They all took their time checking her out and, eventually one of the hens (Goldie) came up to sit next to me as she always has since birth. After about a minute of intense scrutiny of each other, Goldie attacked Viola. Viola flew away and was run down by the rooster and a whole ugly battle began. We are heartbroken. I knew that introducing new birds to a flock was a problem, but she is part of the flock. The issue, I'm sure, is that she no longer looks like she use to and we are not sure she ever will. How can I make this flock understand that she was (is) one of them and convince myself that by saving Viola we did the right thing by her. Thank you so much for any and all advice.
     
  2. lilchick

    lilchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,289
    12
    161
    May 23, 2008
    Williamsport In.
    It might not be the case of them not knowing her so much as the weakest gets attacked, as in nature only the fittest survive.. Three days is not long enough for her to be completely healed and able to hold her own.

    Keep her in a cage in the coop where they can see her and get used to her being there. Each day let her out for supervised visits and see if they gradually accept her.

    Extreme measure is to crate the other chickens up and let her have free range of coop and regain her confidence. Alot of work but it will pay off.

    Another thing to do is take one or 2 hens that like her and crate them with her. That way when you let them out it will be a buddy system.. Hope you get it worked out for her.
     
  3. jtbrown

    jtbrown Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,795
    18
    161
    Mar 30, 2011
    Southeastern Ohio
    We didn't have the exact same thing, only minor tail feather injury with some scabbed areas on tail. It took a while, the rooster attacked ours and I had to keep recrating her, but eventually it all worked out. I gave her re-intro into flock supervised, then re-crated her at night. I was scared it wouldn't work, but it did. Be patient 3 days isn't long, she probably still has blood on her, they are ruthless if that is the case, needs to be healed 100% in my opinion (due to experience). even with ours that had a minor injury, it was a 7-8 day process.
     
  4. cindysyoung

    cindysyoung New Egg

    5
    0
    7
    Aug 14, 2011
    thank you so much. She was in for a supervised visit today; unfortunately, I let them get too close to her and she flew out of my arms. I will start over with the crate in the coop and go from there. Thanks again.
     
  5. savingdogs

    savingdogs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:I think this is very good advice. I've re-introduced birds to one another after injury and seen the hurt one get pecked on as well. We did well by putting her with a few "friends" and not the most aggressive chickens. Then when we put them all back together, the buddy system did work for us. Chickens seem to pick on ONE that is different more than a group of new ones, and they seem to forget their "friends" quickly. If you don't have a crate you could put them right next to them with a fence between but if they can see each other, that is how we accomplished it.
     
  6. cindysyoung

    cindysyoung New Egg

    5
    0
    7
    Aug 14, 2011
    Thank you. It is storming here today, so I will wait to put her crate out there with them. I am willing to invest any time it takes.
     
  7. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    63,741
    9,294
    766
    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    As others have mentioned, the weakest are attacked. She is at a serious disadvantage because she is blind in one eye and she is terrified. After hearing your description of the rooster's attack, I am not positive that he was not the original culprit. Gradual reintroduction utilizing a crate/cage may work. Another possibility is rehoming her to someone that maintains a flock of bantams. Good luck on resolving this situation.
     
  8. cindysyoung

    cindysyoung New Egg

    5
    0
    7
    Aug 14, 2011
    thank you. I am trying the crate option now and will give that some time. Most of the hens did not attack her so I am hoping, with time, she can be reintegrated. Still trying to resolve the Norman (rooster) issue, he may have to take up residence elsewhere. He picks (pecks) on all of them. Is it unusual for a rooster to attack his hens? Again, my vet swears the rooster did not do this. I, too, am not convinced. From what I've read, they usually attack their owners. He knows I am the boss and never challenges me. thanks again.
     
  9. savingdogs

    savingdogs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Maybe you need a new roo. Mine would never hurt his girls, except for what he feels are his amorous attentions. Those can be rough but he never cut or damaged anyone beyond a little feather loss. I actually sold him and I have some young roos growing up now, but they are shy and I like that quality about them.
     
  10. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    63,741
    9,294
    766
    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Young roosters that are becoming sexually mature sometimes become 'misdirected.' until they figure the whole breeding thing out. Sometimes isolation from the hens until they are mature and receptive helps smooth out this phase.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by