Trouble with a new bantam

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Mamala, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. Mamala

    Mamala New Egg

    Apr 19, 2012
    Hello everyone,
    Please forgive me if this has been covered already, the few posts I was able to find that sort of relate didn't quite apply to my situation. I am a very new chicken keeper, and have raised four hens from chicks, born in April. About 6 weeks ago, I was at my local supply store, and saw a beautiful little bantam. The owner told me that someone had brought her in because they were moving and couldn't take her, then asked if I wanted her. I was so taken by her, that I said yes, without doing any research on the topic at all. I threw her right in the coop, a mistake I now know, but luckily it seems that everyone is healthy. The issue is that my other hens (all full size) HATE her. They go out of their way to block her from the food, the won't roost with her, and I've seen them hold her down and violently peck the back of her neck. I thought things would calm down, but it's been at least 6 weeks and it's still just as bad, and now the bald spot on the back of her neck where they peck her is getting scabby. I'm also worried because the nights are starting to get pretty cold up here in New England and if they are not roosting together, I'm worried my little bantam will get too cold. So, to make a long story slightly shorter, I'm wondering if its better to return her to the place I got her, give her away, or keep her and hope she's okay. I feel so bad for her in my coop, but another new home seems rough as well. I could really use some sage advice from more experienced chicken people! Thank you,
    P.S. The bantam must be older than my other hens, because she started laying about 3 weeks ago, and the others are not yet laying. Could this also be part of the issue? Thanks in advance.
  2. Gofygure

    Gofygure Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 4, 2012
    My Coop
    Six weeks is pretty long for the integration process, but not unheard of. It's especially hard when introducing a single bird, and even harder when that bird is half the size of her new flock. Is there any one bird who is a particularly bad bully? If so, you can isolate her for a week or two. When she is reintroduced to the flock she'll be taken down a few pegs.

    If all four are being merciless, there's not much you can do. Watch for blood- chickens are cannibals and can't resist pecking red. Remove her immediately if they open a wound. The only thing left is to give it time and make sure she always has room to get away from them.

    Sometimes it's just not possible and kinder to re-home the newbie. My own birds killed a bantam shortly after introducing a group and I relocated the rest the next day. No bantams for me. :(
  3. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    You may have to do what I did, build another coop and get a few more bantams!

    It's very hard introducing just one new bird to a flock and if the bird is a bantam going in with standards it can really be dangerous for her. Especially if you just popped her in there with them. I have had a problem in the past with a single new bird just not being accepted by the flock. She ended up living outside the coop in my goat barn. She was able to free range with the flock but they never would allow her in their coop/run.

    If she is still being attacked after 6 weeks I would pull her out for her own safety. You could try sectioning off part of the run for her and letting her sleep in a wire dog crate in the coop at night. See if things settle down after a while. That's one of the usual ways to integrate, I'm just afraid that after all this time you are not going to change the minds of your flock about this new bird. The idea is to get them used to seeing the newbies without being able to attack. Once they get into attack mode it can be hard to break them of it.
  4. janinepeters

    janinepeters Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 9, 2009
    The pecking will not get better on its own. I would remove the poor bantam ASAP. At the very least she is miserable, and at worst they will kill her. As others said, it's a bad idea to add a single chicken to an existing flock (it's always easier to cope with stress if you have a friend), and all additions, no matter how many chickens, should be done gradually to reduce the risk of violence. Give them time to get to know each other, and if there is sufficient space, they'll usually get along, eventually.

    A flock of chickens is, by nature, territorial against other chickens. Sort of like people: think how you would feel if you were suddenly forced to take a complete stranger into your home and share all you have. No explanation, no nothing, just forced to do it by the powers that be. That's how your chickens feel.

    Now suppose you are suddenly plucked from your home and forced to live with complete strangers, all 3 times your size, and suppose one of them starts slapping you around. You can't leave and have to put up with it day after day. That's how the bantam feels.

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