Reintroducing quarantined hen

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by RoseCassFarm, Dec 23, 2013.

  1. RoseCassFarm

    RoseCassFarm In the Brooder

    Mar 23, 2013
    Hello all!

    I posted last week about my injured Buff Orp, Nugget. I came into the run to let them out in the morning and found her limping. I immediately brought her inside and put her in an old rabbit cage I have. She was a bit lethargic, quiet, and panting. She didn't move much to eat or drink. After two days of getting fluids and soft foods (yogurt and applesauce) into her via syringe, she perked up and seemed like her old self again. She's now been inside for almost two weeks. She's still limping but she's eating and drinking on her own and making a ton of noise (and mess!).

    Yesterday, since it was warm, I thought I'd try bringing her out into the run with the rest of the girls.

    Holy crap. Bad, bad, BAD idea.

    Back when they first started laying, I had brought another one of them inside when she laid a shell-less egg. After a couple of days inside, she went back out without a problem.

    This was not that simple.

    I wasn't sure how it would go. I thought it might be a bit tense but I figured we'd just give it a try. As you can tell, I'm a newbie.

    My other Buff Orp, Jojo, who used to be my angel, went NUTS. I probably should have seen this coming -- the day I took Nugget inside, Jojo pecked me so hard that she drew blood. I thought it was just an odd coincidence, but since then, my sweet Jojo has been a little tyrant, lol!! She hasn't been shy about lunging at me and trying to puff herself up and bully me out of her way. I'm guessing that she started "Project Overthrow" earlier that morning; the second that she noticed that Nugget wasn't at full strength.

    From what I saw before, Nugget was either the top or very close to the top of the pecking order. She was the one who greeted me at the door of the coop each morning and would shove others out of her way to get at any and EVERY scrap of food first -- especially my sweet Jojo. Jojo was definitely at the bottom. She was submissive and gentle. Not so much now. Someone has been on a bit of a power kick these past two weeks, the little nutcase, lmao.

    I'm guessing that since she's still limping a little, they knew she wasn't up to her full strength. That was mistake number one of mine.

    Jojo went for her before her feet were even on the ground. She jumped on top of her neck and head, pulling at the feathers on the back of her neck. They sort of tumbled around with each other but mostly Jojo was winning the battle. The others started to dive in. Nugget was crouched on the ground. She tried running into the coop but Jojo wasn't going to let her off that easy. She attacked her again and drove her back into the run. They all started to push her into a corner. I couldn't take it anymore and shoved the others away and stomped toward them to drive them back (trying, in some weird "chicken whisperer" way, to show them that I was, in fact, the alpha hen, lmao). I grabbed her and brought her back into the house. She was breathing rapidly and kind of nestling into me. Poor lady.

    They managed (or should I say, JOJO managed) to draw blood from her comb. :(

    I know there are several techniques for reintroduction but I'm just wondering what approach you would try first with this situation.

    I'm considering bringing her friend, Ethel, in for a visit. I'm not sure if she attacked her yesterday. I do know that they usually hung around with each other and that Ethel was hanging out with her in the coop on the day that she first started limping. What do you think? I'm wondering if they'll be able to forge a united front and can go back into the flock together...but will I just be making more trouble for myself? I also don't know that I have enough room for the two of them -- it's a standard sized rabbit cage and Nugget is JUST cozy enough in it alone.

    Also, any suggestions about treating her wounds?
  2. Roymann

    Roymann Hatching

    Dec 22, 2013
    I'm dealing with the same problem. One of my large white hens has something wrong with her leg joint and couldn't stand on that leg. She's a big strong dominant bird now even the weaker of the hens wanted to jump on her. I built a small coop within the coop and a small pen within the pen and I transfer her from one to the other morning and night, she likes being close to the other hens regardless how they treated her. Most mornings I'll place her outside the pen for a little while for a little exercise and to stretch, and she usually works her way over up against the pen wanting to be with the other birds. Sometimes I'll put her near the food and water in the main pen where the other birds are so she can feel part of it but I'll stand close and not allow the other birds to bother her. I'll also take her out when the others are free ranging and I'm starting to place her closer and closer to the other birds. Her leg is healing slowly, walking is difficult but because I keep her close, the other birds are moving around her while outside and have all calmed down toward her. I believe keeping her close to the other birds will solve the re introduction problem because she never really left.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2013
  3. RoseCassFarm

    RoseCassFarm In the Brooder

    Mar 23, 2013
    Thank you so much! I thought I should probably do something along those lines but it's really helpful to hear someone else's experience.
  4. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    Chickens are very protective of their flock - what you are seeing is completely normal. They don't recognize her as part of the flock any more. Plus, she is injured, which doesn't help either.

    The best way to reintegrate her is to block off an area of the coop, where they can see each other, but they can't attack her. Make sure she has her own food and water. Keep her confined like this for a week in the coop. You will probably see them challenging her through the wire, but it's part of them adjusting to her again. After a week, put them together at night. There will still be some skirmishes as they readjust the pecking order, but it will be much easier on your injured hen.

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