Scared Chicken

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Birdnerd04, Jan 22, 2019.

  1. Birdnerd04

    Birdnerd04 In the Brooder

    16
    13
    34
    Sep 17, 2017
    Hello everybody!
    We have a Dominique chicken, who is at the bottom of our pecking order of 9 guineas, 7 chickens and a rooster. We got her from a family with three times as many birds, and frankly she wasn't given any special care or attention and was in bad shape when we got her. Her health was getting better, but she never willingly leaves the chicken coop, no matter what treat I offer her. She always sits on a perch at the top of the coop and only comes down for maybe 10-20 minutes a day to eat and drink water from the feeders. She has a friend (another Dominque) that stays in the coop for most of the morning with her, and then leaves to patrol the yard with the main flock. It is getting to the point where the chicken who never leaves the coop has scaly leg mites and extremely long toenails from lack of use. Her feathers are ruffled and unclean and she squints. Other than that she seems healthy. If I force her to leave the coop, she turns around and runs back to it as fast as she can, often being chased by the rooster.

    What should I do? Is our rooster scaring her? He is a very sweet bird and the other ladies have little to no problem with him.
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    14,536
    12,034
    702
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    You don't mention how long ago you got this hen, but it's obvious she needs intervention to integrate her into the flock. The longer she goes without getting enough to eat and suffering pain from the scaly leg mites, the less she's able to cope with being lowest in the pecking order.

    Here's my article on how to integrate a new chicken. https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/introducing-a-single-hen-to-an-existing-flock.71997/ Even if she's been in the flock for a good while, the steps in my article can still be followed to get her to feel part of the flock.
     
    aart likes this.
  3. Birdnerd04

    Birdnerd04 In the Brooder

    16
    13
    34
    Sep 17, 2017
    We got her about 9 months ago.
     
  4. sawilliams

    sawilliams Songster

    1,631
    1,649
    241
    Nov 12, 2015
    Nor Cal
    I would separate her into a smaller pen where she can be outside but safe from the other chickens, but close so she can still interact. That and you need to treat the scaly leg mites. She isn't adjusting well and doesn't feel safe, she needs her own safe space to help her adjust and possibly finish healing. Once she is more confident you can try letting her out in the evenings for an hour or so at a time to explore. I don't know if you quarantined her at first but think of if this way she was already sick and weak and then moved to a new home with new healthy strong birds, scared confused and not able to protect herself she choose to hide, the lack of confidence this caused has only made adjusting harder as im sure at night she is pecked on also and again forced to move away from other flock members. She needs time to build her confidence in a safe environment before she is ready to join the flock or she will continue to be bullied. Also I don't know if she came from a home with a rooster, but most of my girls where raised without one, once we got a rooster it took time for them to adjust to the new pecking order and to trust him. If she was raised without a rooster (or even if there was one) she may just not be trusting him yet, and with the other hens and probably guineas too pecking her she doesn't trust the rooster to not try to hurt her. That and if she's not feeling well she isn't going to want to mate. If you can't separate her you need to build or create some safe places near the coop where she can hide but not be trapped, tunnels, walls, bushes things that will help break the line of sight so others don't chase her. But most importantly you need to finish getting her healthy, strong, and confident so she can establish herself in the flock. Even a hen at the bottom of the ranks shouldn't have to hide for safety.

    Another thing keep an eye on the guineas, though they like to roam more and may seem to distance themselves from the chicken flock they can also be down right mean especially to a hen that is weak or very low in the peaking order.
     
  5. WindingRoad

    WindingRoad Songster

    646
    1,333
    183
    Nov 21, 2018
    Maine
    Maybe let her out all alone so she can see what's out there. So she can scratch and roam around. Even 15 minutes.
     
  6. Acre4Me

    Acre4Me Crowing

    1,322
    1,990
    256
    Nov 12, 2017
    Western Ohio
    agree with giving her her own space for awhile to heal and strengthen. Treat the mites and if she has them, others may too. Is she laying yet? Is there one main aggressor, or just the whole flock?

    We had some pullets that were very harassed by the flock and head male. They were all raised together as chicks, but that male did not like these chickens! We had to put food in 2 locations and put water in the coop. The harassed chickens would come out sometimes and were often the last to go into the coop, partly so they could eat! But they stayed in the coop quite a bit. They took forever to lay, and I'll attribute it to the stress of harassment and limited access to food, but we did make sure they were eating. Interestingly, we added 7 chicks to the flock at around 6 weeks (they were raised by a momma hen and had been mingling prior to moving to the coop). These chicks were now the lowest on the pecking order, and guess who harassed these chicks the most? yes, the previously harassed chickens! Anyway, I think that the head male not liking them and the fact that they were not yet laying, impacted their experience. We ended up selling them at auction.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: