Reintroducing Bird Back to the Flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by lisabailey, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. lisabailey

    lisabailey Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 1, 2009
    Snoqualmie Valley
    This is our first flock (since January of this year.) We have 8 - 2 Black Australorps, 3 RI Reds, and 3 Easter Eggers - all hens, all the same age out of the same original breeder (9 months old).

    We run them in a tractor with attached run, and they are let out of the raised coop every morning and sealed back in every night (we have numerous predators in the area.) Usually, when we go out to close them up at night (around dark), they have already put themselves to bed inside the coop itself, and all we have to do is close up the ramp to the run.

    Last night, we found a hen sitting/sleeping(?) in the grass under the coop directly under the ramp. She allowed my husband (someone they don't really know and usually run from when he comes around the coop) to pick her up without fuss, and she went basically limp in my arms when I carried her into the house. (She is one of the Easter Eggers.)

    We fixed her up in a small dog carrier with food and water, and I made a nest for her on which to lay made out of an old towel. We put shavings on the kennel floor. She was awake and alert, looking around and moving her head with no problem, but she was essentially limp elsewhere. (Note, a very close inspection revealed no apparent trauma, wounds, sores, mites, fleas, or anything. Not even any broken feathers.)

    She spent the night inside in the kennel, and I expected to find a dead bird this morning, but the first thing I encountered when I stuck my hand into the kennel was a wide awake hen who pecked my hand.

    Eventually, I got her up on her feet, and she stood in one place for a very long time. Then, eventually, she started moving around the kennel onher own accord. She has been eating and drinking quite a bit since starting to move around this morning, and she finally made some clucking noises at me.

    We have had some heat of late, and I'm just wondering if she might have been dehydrated or at the bottom of the pecking order and had some issues eating/drinking withthe others?

    I think I'll keep her inside one more night, but my question is, after two nights and one full day out of the flock, do I need to do anything special to reintroduce her to the flock?

    I thought about putting her back in at dark, after all the others had gone to sleep. Or, I also considered bringing in another one to spend the night with her, then reintroducing the two of them back into the main flock.

    Thoughts and suggestions appreciated.
     
  2. Lbrad7

    Lbrad7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 19, 2010
    Ringgold, GA
    I don't think she has been away from the flock long enough to cause them to be aggressive toward her when she is re-introduced. I would just do like you said and have her rejoin the crew at night.

    I would be more concerned about what was wrong with her to begin with. Heat could have been the problem but those symptoms are really bizarre. I would keep an eye on her for sure.
     
  3. lisabailey

    lisabailey Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 1, 2009
    Snoqualmie Valley
    Yeah, I hear ya'. I'm wondering if she ate something she shouldn't have? We live on acreage, and most of the property runs to wild "whatever), but we have a kind-of-sort-of "lawn" in the front, and that's where the tractor is located. We did plant grass, but there's lots of weeds, etc. Elsewhere on the property, we have pretty dense pockets of floxglove (which I read is poison to chickens), but none in the "lawn." The chickens stay in one place for a few days, then we move them over a coop/run width, and they get fresh grass/weeds/etc. I've been watching the others for signs of something, but nothing.

    Some time back (back in March, maybe?) we lost a RI Red to similar symptoms. When we found her beneath the coop that evening, being newbies - and the fact that not all the chickens had "gotten it" as far as putting themselves to bed yet - we just put her in the coop. We found her dead the next morning where we put her. Again, no sign of anything.

    The Easter Egger from last night is eating very well this morning and drinking a lot of water in the process. She still seems a little wobbly on her legs inside the kennel (slick blastic bottom with pine shavings), but she didn't have any problems wrapping her toes around my fingers and standing on my hands.

    She does have a little dried poop on her butt feathers, but she had gone in her towel nest last night and hadn't gotten up until I put her on her feet this morning, so I think it is leftover from that. I have cleaned her off and will wait to see if we get anymore.

    Thanks for the reply. I'll keep you posted.

    -Lisa
     
  4. Lbrad7

    Lbrad7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 19, 2010
    Ringgold, GA
    It sounds like you are begining to narrow down the possible causes. If you ever do figure it out, please post. I hate it when I have a bird go down with no known cause. I think if you nail down the cause, you could help a lot of others out...including me!

    Good luck with your girl! It sounds like she is in great hands.
     
  5. lisabailey

    lisabailey Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 1, 2009
    Snoqualmie Valley
    Well, I shampooed all the residue off her rear end to make sure she wasn't having issues there. Nothing there. She's moving around well, and making noises at me when I open the kennel door. I fed her yogurt with her food this morning and this afternoon, and she cleaned her bowl both times. And, I've heard her in the kennel scratching up the shavings giving herself a dust bath. Whatever it was, she appears to be back to normal, so I'll put her back in the coop tonight after everyone has bedded down.

    In the meantime, I cleaned out the coop, put down fresh bedding, replaced one of the solid plastic "windows" with chicken wire (high up on the side) for more ventilation, and my boys moved the tractor over to fresh ground. No sign of problems with any other hens.

    Hopefully, the reintroduction will go well.
     
  6. Lbrad7

    Lbrad7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 19, 2010
    Ringgold, GA
    Sounds like she is right back to normal. Let's keep our fingers crossed!
     
  7. bigoakhunter

    bigoakhunter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 29, 2009
    Michigan
    When I have had broody hens that I need to break, I keep them isolated for 3 nights in a wire cage with food and water. Then i put them back with flock. It throws them out of the pecking order to some degree. Usually first day they are kinda seperate, or isolated. then slowly work way back into flock. Usually end up lower on pecking order.
     
  8. lisabailey

    lisabailey Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 1, 2009
    Snoqualmie Valley
    And, now...the rest of the story.

    So, Tuesday night, we put her back in the coop amongst the sleeping hens, and - other than rearranging a few bodies here and there to fit her into the sleeping pile - no one even noticed. We watched her Wednesday, and she seemed to function within the flock with no problems. Then, Wednesday night, it was bedtime, and one by one the hens entered the coop. Finally, our little Easter Egger was the last one left. At last the problem became evident.

    Though she can spread her wings with no problem, she seems to be injurred wherein the flapping mechanism is concerned. And, in order to enter the coop, our hens have to "fly" up about a 6-8" space between the ground and the bottom of the ramp. (Originally, the ramp went all the way to the ground, but when the guy who built it was loading it onto our truck with his tractor, he accidentally broke off the ramp at the bottom.) This explains why we originally found her asleep at the foot of the ramp under the coop. Apparently, she had tried to hop/fly up, couldn't make it, then just went to sleep under the coop. This also explained her somewhat weakend condition, because all the food and water are inside the coop.

    My husband got a board for her to act as a step, and she was able to hop up onto the board, but then she got tangled up in the strings that hold the ramp in place. (We have it rigged with kind of a draw bridge set up, where we can close it nightly by pulling a string.) This might have been how she originally became injurred in the first place...hard to know.

    Anyway, my husband finally picked her up and we put her in the coop, and she immediately waddled over to make her place in the sleeping arrangements.

    So, yesterday, my boys and I designed and built steps to the ramp, and we cut the strings that held up the draw bridge. I had decided if "Hop-Along" (our injurred Easter Egger) couldn't make it up into the coop on her own last night, I would need to find another home forher with someone who has a single level coop.

    Last night, when my husband went to button up the coop for the night, all of the hens were inside the coop - including Hop-Along. Mission accomplished!

    This evening, we will redesign the draw bridge closure mechanism, as last night it was just a board wedged against the opening.

    This is our first coop, and we bought it already built (got a fantastic deal on it on Craig's List), but as with most things, I am learning what features I like and don't like, and I hope to be able to build the design in my head before the year is out. Time will tell, as they say.
     

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