Should we start a new flock with one remaining hen?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by newchickenmummy, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. newchickenmummy

    newchickenmummy New Egg

    Dec 30, 2015

    We raised 6 chickens from babies with utmost care and gave them to my parents to care for them when they got older. My parents stupidly forgot to close the coop for two nights and now only one chicken is left. We are devastated and disappointed with how irresponsible my parents have been and are therefore considering if we should look after that one remaining chicken ourselves. I would love to get your thoughts.

    We live on an acreage property with mowed lawns, a few very tall trees in the backyard, no secure fencing around the property and there is a pre-existing coop which is situated in the middle of our backyard. We have a good view of the coop from the kitchen/dining room. I would like to let the chicken free-range during the day and lock up the coop at night but am worried about predators. Our backyard is very open.

    We live in Australia and regularly have kangaroos, wild rabbits, a peacock and guinea fowls on on our property and we have seen a snake and possums. Our direct neighbour has lots of chickens and guinea fowls which basically just live in wired chicken runs and never free-range.

    I’ve attached images of the pre-existing chicken coop. Is it a decent coop? How predator-proof is it? I can see gaps between the roof and the sides which we will fix. What else could be done to make the coop better?

    The other issue is we would have to get more chickens to keep the remaining hen company. I didn’t plan on having chickens and would only do it to take care of the remaining hen. I am also vegan and don’t eat chicken eggs.

    What should we do?





  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Hi and welcome. It's a little difficult to predict how predator proof your coop is. You may wish to consider having a chat with your neighbour who keeps chickens and ask for their advice - they must have lots of experience regarding local predators and how to stop them tucking into your chooks. Also, you may have a state thread where you can find other members in your area that can also help out - failing that, search for "Australia 6 states and that funny little island" and proceed from there.

    Good luck

    Last edited: Jan 19, 2016
  3. SunHwaKwon

    SunHwaKwon Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 19, 2015
    Eastern Shore, MD
    My thought is that the main thing to consider is the hen would rather be with company as they are not solitary animals.I am not big on eggs but love having chickens anyway. That co-op looks great but I would have your neighbor inspect it in person. It needs to be dig proof and bird of prey proof as well, for peace of mind.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2016
  4. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 29, 2012
    Your only real predators are going to be foxes and Hawks. I free ranged for 3 years but eventually a goshawk found us and I lost a bird so now they are confined to their run.

    Your coop looks a little delapidated so may need a fair bit of work to make it fox proof.

    Have you considered just spending $150 for an automatic coop door for your parents coop? Might work out a lot cheaper in the long run than renovating your coop and you wouldn't have to worry about them remembering to lock them up. (We have an alarm set on our iPad goes off to remind us every night because it's easy to forget)
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2016
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    To me that coop looks decent. You might want to get some more hardware cloth and cover over any openings that predators can get through. I don’t know what predators you have in Australia but I use a rule of thumb that anything over an inch wide gets covered. That still won’t stop absolutely everything but it will stop almost everything. Check it for rotten wood or loose planks or wire, but it certainly looks useable.

    Chickens are social animals and do better with company. Occasionally one will bond with another animal, maybe a dog, cat, or you, but they do best with other chickens. I’d suggest a minimum of three total in a flock. That way if something happens to one you still have two for company.

    If you have those animals in your yard, something is hunting and eating them to help keep the numbers in check. That’s just the way nature works. If your chickens free range during the day they will be at risk, but nighttime is the time of most danger. Some of us are quite successful letting our chickens free range during the day or keep them in a predator resistant run but locking them up in a predator proof coop at night while others get wiped out trying that. It just depends on your predator pressure and luck.

    Maybe you could give the eggs away, say to a food bank or some place that feeds the hungry. That’s what I do with most of my excess eggs. I don’t know if your Vegan principles would allow that or not.
  6. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Why not simply give the lone hen to your neighbor to integrate into his flock? If you don't eat eggs or meat, I don't see the point in starting a flock. It's a big commitment and responsibility. Beware of mission creep.
    1 person likes this.
  7. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 15, 2014
    That coop would make a great home for retired commercial layer hens. You be giving your one hen some flockmates and giving the layer hens a second chance at a much deserved comfortable life. They may still lay the occasional egg. You can either give away or sell the eggs or just feed them back to the birds (providing that aligns with your vegan philosophy).
  8. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    It does happen, people forget the coop is open. It has happened to me. Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you don't, I am not irresponsible.

    I think that there is a sound reason that your neighbor is keeping his/her birds locked up. Must be some established predators around your area. If so, you might very well also loose the last hen to a predator.

    The coop has possibilities, and you could set it up to keep this chicken or a few more, but I would recommend just letting your parents handle the whole deal, and if they want to get a couple more birds, well, they could do that.

    Mrs K
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Sounds like you should give the remaining bird to a 'rescue'.

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