Reintroducing chicken at bottom of pecking order

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Tanalita, Dec 12, 2016.

  1. Tanalita

    Tanalita New Egg

    Aug 22, 2016

    I have 4 chickens; 2 barred Plymouth Rock (Astrid and Dixie), 1 white laced red Cornish (Hickory), and 1 white sultan D'uccle bantam (Ophelia). Ophelia is definitely the smallest and very obviously at the bottom of the pecking order. A few weeks back, I came out to find one of her feet pecked raw with the top hard layer of skin pecked off and the feathers pecked off of the quills from her adorable booted foot. Hickory, who is our only meat bird and has increasingly been the crankiest bird ever, and one of our barred Plymouth attacked her at once and poor Ophelia just sat there and took it. We brought her inside and set up a crate for her while her foot healed. Well, her foot is healed and I think she's gained some weight because she's not being chased off from the foot and even laid her first egg at 10 months old. I live in Utah so it's shifted to colder weather since she was living outside last. We try to take her outside as much as possible but she has to have a physical barrier between her and the other chickens otherwise they'll peck at her. We can't keep her inside anymore. I'm sure it's not great for her and it's a lot of upkeep for us. I just have no idea how to reintegrate her back into the coop without her getting attacked again. I love Ophelia, she's so cute and sweet. She will never fight back. I really want to make this work. I've read that you can take out some chickens for a couple days and let the pecking order re-establish with the remaining chickens. Also that having two different feeding areas is helpful so that they're not getting chased away from the single food source. We will be processing Hickory in a couple weeks so soon it will just be Ophelia and the two barred Plymouth sisters. How can I reintroduce Ophelia to the flock in a way that won't stack the odds against her? Are those methods I listed above good ones? I need help, please!!! And thank you!!!
  2. Put her in a look no touch for a week....Leave her there........Let her out after a week while you watch.....It will look bad to you....Pecking order needs to happen in order for them to know where they belong in the flock.......As long as no blood is shed they will figure it out......Chickens understand pecking order.......

  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    You may be able to try some long, convoluted reintegration process. Introduce the little bird to one of the Rocks, then gradually bring in the second Rock. Monitoring closely the entire time.

    but overall, I think you need review your long term plans for this little lady. There's a reason folks advise not to keep a single bantam with a flock of large fowl, and this is it. She was attacked once, with apparently no provocation, so I'm thinking there's no reason the other hens aren't going to go after her again. Removing the Cornish may help, or it may not. She's been singled out as weak and vulnerable already, and chickens don't tolerate weak and vulnerable well.
  4. jmullins86

    jmullins86 New Egg

    Nov 19, 2016
    I feel your pain!!! We had a Red Star that I didn't realize how mean the others were being toward her. She was removed & nursed back to health. We tried reintroducing her to the flock without success. My husband built her a separate coop & run. She can see the others but no physical contact. When I let them free range, if the others get too close, Gertie will find me. She got into a scrape with a couple of the others & held her own quite well, but she wants nothing to do with them.

    Now, I'm going through this with my newest girls. My husband built another coop, so the oldest girls remain separated from the youngsters. My girls are 10-12 weeks old, and I ended up with a couple roosters. My Dominique (Roofus Carl) seemed aggressive. The Welsummer (Bobby Elvis) seemed fairly passive. Turns out Bobby Elvis is aggressive towards the girls.....he bites the back of their neck. Yesterday one of my Egyptian Fayoumi's feathers were ripped out & the skin peeled off a section of her head. She's isolated away from the flock while I try to doctor her. I didn't see Bobby Elvis attack her, but I know it was him.

    Last night he began attacking some of the other girls, one of my Polish has has a couple feathers pulled out. I now have him in a wire dog kennel inside the coop. The girls seem much happier. He's still trying to attack them through the crate. UGH!

    I'm afraid we're going to have a whole freaking village set up with separate coops & runs!!!! LOL!!! Good luck with your girls. It's a learning experience all the way around.
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    When you have pet birds, it is hard to see them beat up in the flock. One tends to wish they would all just be nice... and they won't.

    I agree with Donrae, ( I often do, she gives good valid advice) Not all birds fit in the flock, and even being raised together does not ensure that they will get along. It is better to have birds of similar size and temperament, along with enough space for the number of birds that you have. The thing is, is the strife even bothers the birds that are the bullies. The whole flock is upset and that feeds the tension.

    It might work by pulling the aggressive bird, it will reduce your numbers, in a way... I am wondering just what your dimensions of the coop and run, and the age of all your birds. It could be that if you got these birds as chicks, the set up was big enough, but when they grew bigger, it became too small, leading to aggressive behavior.
    Quote: So you went from 4 birds in the set up, to 3 birds, when you pulled O, and the crankiness of the meat bird increased... making me wonder if there is not enough room for 3 full grown birds in your set up. If you pull the biggest bird (the meat bird) and add back a small bird, you might squeak by.

    But again, it might not work either. Definitely try the ideas you suggested, and I would do the whole change all at once, taking a bird, and adding O back in all at once. Taking the top bird out, will cause a pecking order change, upset everyone, adding a new bird gets lost in the confusion, kind of sort of, with some hide outs, extra feed bowls, and some prior exposure in a look but don't touch might work.

    But you need to keep in the back of your mind, that this bird might fit better in a flock with other small birds. It might be better for the "flock' to go either with the other pair, and give O away, or keep O, get other birds like her, and give the pair away.

    Mrs K
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2016

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