Separating the runt

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by DowntownWings, Nov 29, 2014.

  1. DowntownWings

    DowntownWings Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello everyone!

    I have had chickens for just over a year now and had very few problems integrating new birds into the flock...until now. I got 4 Maran/Polish crosses from another backyard chicken lady a couple months ago. One of them was about half the size of the others and is, I think, a few weeks younger. As time goes on and the other pullets get bigger and more beautiful every day, this little girl seems to be growing much slower. After watching the flock's behavior, I noticed that she is getting picked on quite a bit around the food bowl every morning (I have two for 11 chickens but no matter which she goes to she gets pushed away). So I started giving her her own food and separating her for at least part of the day.

    My concern is that this will not help her fit in any better and may not even be necessary. I also plan on increasing her protein intake to see if that helps and separating her will make this easier as well.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    If she isn't being excessively picked on, I would leave her where she is. You'll just be prolonging the whole pecking order ordeal by separating her. And, if its for an extended period of time, you'll be making things worse for her when she has to be reintegrated. If she's getting food and water, then there isn't really a need for separation anyway. If you must separate her, a cage in the coop or run would probably be the best option. That way, she's still there and part of the group, the other chickens just won't have access to her. She'll still have to deal with finding her place when you let her out, but hopefully it won't be nearly as rough since she'll (hopefully) be caught up in size.

    It's a hard thing to watch, but its part of having chickens, unfortunately.

    Good luck to you.
     
  3. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    Please tell us how old this runt is. I'd be interested in knowing where she is on the growth time table.

    If she is being kept from the food dishes, she will need to be fed separately. You do run the risk of making her expect this as the norm for the rest of her life, so if you think she's getting enough to eat, don't do it.

    She may be as old as her mates and is very slow developing. She may never end up being as large as the rest. I have such a one in my last bunch of five chicks, and now she's 18 months old, smaller than her sisters, but she lays eggs just as big as theirs.

    To assure she's getting all available nutrients, fermented feed would be something to consider.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I'd like to see a pic of them all...could be a the runt is of different parentage or hidden gene from previous mix.
     
  5. DowntownWings

    DowntownWings Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for your great advice everyone!

    I got the Maran crosses in September and they were about 3 months old then I'd guess. They were all feathered out at any rate. I assumed the runt was the same age but it's very possible she is a few weeks younger. I have been adding higher protein starter to the regular food and letting the hens out to range first thing in the morning since I first posted and have seen a definite improvement! Here are some pictures of her with another of the pullets and also the whole flock. She is the solid black one.
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    Last edited: Dec 4, 2014
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I'd say she was a different cross/mix, that's why the size difference.
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    When you get into crossing crosses you can get a real wide variety of outcomes. I don’t know if those original Marans were bantam or full-sized fowl, but Polish are generally bantams. My guess is that she inherited bantam genes from both parents while the others got a heavier dose of full-sized genes.

    It is also possible that she was just born a runt. That occasionally happens. I once had a cockerel that never grew like his hatchmates. Within a week of hatch he was noticeably smaller than any of them. He was slow to grow and slow to mature. I processed him at about 18 weeks, not wanting to take any chance of his genetics getting passed down into my flock. I didn’t have to worry. When I processed him I saw that his sexual organ development was way behind any other similar aged cockerels. I don’t know if he would have eventually matured or not.
     
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    She's not scary small and looks otherwise healthy from what I can see. It's quite normal for the Omega animal to eat last---that's the whole point of being dominant, it means you get the pick of the food. She may not be allowed to eat first thing, but if you have feed available all the time, she'll be able to eat her fill later. I'd leave her with the flock and not do anything different, someone's got to be the bottom of the order. Just have feed available for the flock all the time and she'll be fine.
     
  9. DowntownWings

    DowntownWings Out Of The Brooder

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    This makes sense, especially since the others look so different even from one another. i don't know anything about Polish but they are sure making my Marans look interesting!
    Thanks!
     

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