Thank you!! Advice on Adopting a Stray Hen

How many years do your hens lay, if you allow them to rest in the winter?

  • Two to three years.

    Votes: 1 50.0%
  • Four to five years.

    Votes: 1 50.0%
  • Over five years, regular laying.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Over five years, occasional laying.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters


7 Years
May 14, 2012
Western New York
I would like to thank all the BYC'ers who took time to post and educate us on adopting a stray hen. A hen was found running in the busy road near us, and we eventually adopted the chicken. We named her Mercy.

Through this site and other resources, we were able to tell if she was healthy (she is!), properly quarantine her, and most exciting of all: We were able to introduce her slowly and peacefully to the new flock.

Here is what we did:

1. We kept her in a dog kennel, filled with hay, etc. in our garage. She sure was happier when we put a large stick for her to roost! This is easy: Just find a branch or piece of lumber that is about the same width as the openings between the cage, and insert it about one foot up, resting on the grid! The width keeps it from spinning too much. Our hen loved to perch every night.

2. Next we took a little scrap lumber we had (partly from free pallets!) and made a simple teepee run. My husband and boys did this - super easy and fast. By using a bit of gorilla glue at the top, they were able to use 3 upright boards and 3 bottom boards (overlapped and screwed together at the corners) to create a tiny little run for her. We used scrap chicken wire to wrap abound the outside of the frame, and we were off!

3. With her temporary coop and little run complete, we were able to begin treating her like all the other chickens. When we opened up their coop in the morning to let them get some sun, we also walked her out to her little run, which we placed in the same area but quite a distance away from the others. The best advice I read was to place them so they can SEE but not TOUCH. They sure enjoyed checking each other out for the 30 days! We gave treats at the same time, etc. and this seemed to help everyone get the flock mentality going. We moved her little run closer and closer to their run over time. We also watched their reactions to each other by letting our flock free range while she was in her run. They grew more accustomed to each other in a short time.

4. We used the 30 day quarantine time to read up, ask questions, and check her for any signs of illness or any kind of mites. We soon realized she was going through a molt, but had no other problems that we could see. A local poultry expert told us to coat her legs with vaseline for mites, and since this was simple and harmless, we treated her just in case. Most likely she is an older bird and just has rougher looking legs than our young hens.

5. When the 30 days was over, we began to let them all free range together for a short time day each evening. Mercy still ran into her own kennel to sleep! Or funnier still - she found a way to fly/hop near the top of our garage where there was a long, tall toboggan leaned against the wall. We thought she was lost one night, perhaps running away from our hens if they ganged up on her or something??? But we just needed to look a little higher! (Over our heads!)

6. After 3 days or so of this routine, we placed her with one of our chickens in her own little run, right next to the other hens in their run. It went well!

This was a huge victory, because at first meeting, (they accidentally got together when our flock was free-ranging), it was like a nasty cock fight! They grabbed each other's waddles and combs right through the dog cage ... so we knew we should take it slowly from then on. No more skirmishes occurred once she could get up on her perch and we threw an old blanket over the end so she could hide away instead of fight.

7. The next day we put them all in the run together. Everything went smoothly. They occasionally peck each others necks, but everyone gets along without fighting. We were surprised that even being with the flock all day, Mercy still wanted to run into the garage to sleep in her old location. We would place her in the hen house, and she would just walk right out the other side instead of roosting with the others. She even tried to fly in the back door to our house repeatedly one evening! It was pretty funny to watch.

8. After giving her these next few days to adjust, we simply closed up the garage in the evening, and she figured out to join our other hens for bed. :)

They have all been together for a couple of weeks, and we are so thankful we did not have to endure any length of time of bloody fighting or feather pulling. It was a peaceful transition for all, and most importantly, everyone is healthy while we were able to give this poor, lost hen a good home.

Thanks so much everyone for all the posts about incorporating new birds into your flock, watching for illness signs, and stray hens. We are newbies this year and really appreciate it!
Hi, welcome to BYC....
I think its great u adopted her....she needs a safe place to sleep, etc. And it sounds like everything is working out great

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