Traumatized chicken new to flock and not fitting in

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jkozole77, Nov 10, 2015.

  1. jkozole77

    jkozole77 New Egg

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    A friend of mine showed me one of her chickens that wasn't doing well in her flock. This chicken was the roosters favorite and had a bald patch on her back and neck, walked with a limp, and was relentlessly picked on by the other hens. She was hiding under the coop ladder when I first saw her and my heart broke. Next thing you know, my friend asked if I'd take her to see if I could integrate her into my flock (without a rooster). So, I packed her up and took her home. I put her in the brooder in the garage until quarantine was over. Over the last few weeks I've been allowing my flock to free range with her but she's petrified of them. She ends up back in the garage hiding or alone on my porch. She panics when the others approach her and her panic causes such a scene that the flock is drawn to her and they start to chase and peck at her. It's been weeks now and I just don't see her fitting in with them. I'm afraid to put her in the coop or run with them for fear of them killing her, but I can't keep cracking the garage every day for her while I'm at work.

    I have a small goat shed with 2 nigerian dwarfs... But she's even afraid of them. Plus, I don't know how I'd make a home in the goat shed without eggs getting broken and them eating each other's food. Either I figure out a way to make that work or I build her a mini coop for herself. Does anyone have any words of wisdom?
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2015
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    First of all, she has no friends there. She is in strange surroundings with strange birds that are an established flock. Established flocks don't take kindly to interlopers.
    I would take your most docile hen and put it in the garage with the new bird until they become friends.
    Perhaps even make them a space with the goats. Just give them a nest box so the goats can't smash eggs.
    After the two are comfortable with each other, put another more docile hen with the new pair.
    A week later, you can swap the flocks so the new bird and her friends take over as the rulers of the main roost. Then bring the others back one at a time.
     
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  3. jkozole77

    jkozole77 New Egg

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    Thanks ChickenCanoe, I'll give that a shot. :)
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    CC gave a great solution suggestion.

    Just wanted to add.....keep the goats away from the chicken feed(much easier said than done), they can gorge on it making them very sick.

    ...and here's some other integration tips.


    Here's some notes I've taken on integration that I found to be very helpful.......
    ......take what applies or might help and ignore the rest.
    See if any of them, or the links provided at the bottom, might offer some tips that will assist you in your situation:

    Integration of new chickens into flock.


    Consider medical quarantine:
    BYC Medical Quarantine Article
    Poultry Biosecurity
    BYC 'medical quarantine' search

    It's about territory and resources(space/food/water). Existing birds will almost always attack new ones.
    Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact. Integrating new birds of equal size works best.

    The more space, the better.
    Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide out of line of sight and/or up and away from any bully birds.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best of mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

    Another option, if possible, is to put all birds in a new coop and run, this takes the territoriality issues away.

    For smaller chicks I used a large wire dog crate right in the coop for the smallers. I removed the crate door and put up a piece of wire fencing over the opening and bent up one corner just enough for the smallers to fit thru but the biggers could not. Feed and water inside the crate for the smallers. Make sure the smallers know how to get in and out of the crate opening before exposing them to the olders. this worked out great for me, by the time the crate was too small for the them to roost in there(about 3 weeks), they had pretty much integrated themselves to the olders. If you have too many smallers to fit in a crate you can partition off part of the coop with a wire wall and make the same openings for smallers escape.


    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock
     
  5. jkozole77

    jkozole77 New Egg

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    Thanks for the info aart. Out of curiosity, is the behavior of the new chicken "normal"? The extreme fear and running away? Shouldn't she be chest bumping and working to establish her order even if it is the bottom? Or is she aware she's outnumbered and just petrified? She runs like a scaredy cat and I keep thinking, if she'd just turn and puff up her chest maybe the others would back down a bit. But she just won't. :(
     
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Actually, I think her behavior is more normal than the turn and fight behavior would be. Perhaps if she was in familiar surroundings it would be different but the combination of a strange established flock and not knowing where she is makes her behavior about right. Add to that the fact that her history is of a bullied hen.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Ditto Dat^^^
     
  8. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    When she arrived, she probably said to herself, "holy crap, I went from the frying pan to the fire".

    ETA

    Imagine if you were put into a vehicle, taken for a long drive and dropped off alone in a rough neighborhood, you had no idea where you were and some nefarious characters started acting aggressive. Would you run or turn and fight?
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2015
  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    In addition the excellent advice you've already been given, I'm going to toss an alternative out there.....

    Maybe your flock isn't the best fit for her.

    You might see if you can find another home for her, someone who maybe has a "special" pet bird that needs a companion, or some ornamental hens (silkies, etc) and wants a more dependable layer, something like that. Or someone who just wants a pet hen. Sounds like she's just an extreme Omega bird and might not ever really work well with a strong flock.
     
  10. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Another excellent point.

    I still think if I was a hen that went what she's been through, I'd be freaked out too.
     

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