Why won't 1 hen go in coop at nite, hangs alone?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by SnowycreeksHens, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. SnowycreeksHens

    SnowycreeksHens New Egg

    Nov 29, 2010
    Whitney Point
    I'm sooo new to the chickie world but learning fast. However, I'm stumped now. Help.

    This little hen received some kind of injury alongside the road when she was young. G'dtr rescued her and I nursed her back to the living....her neck seemed to be off to the side and kept twitching. I never thot she'd make it thru the nite but she hung on and soon her neck seemed to be back to normal. I kept her isolated in dog crate, but inside coop with other chicks. They grew larger during the healing time but Emma has never really caught up to them in size. You might say she is a dainty girl. Once I let her out loose with the others, I noticed she always seemed to remain off standish, outside the circle, very shy. When the flock rushed to me for food, she would get pushed aside and stay there. Not aggressive at all. I don't think she got as much food and water as the rest so I started trying to feed her off to the side. During nice weather she free ranges with the rest but never goes far from home. They have all returned to their coop at dusk. However, I would find Emma near the coop but many times, still outside. I would have to gently pick her up and place her on a roost. She is able to roost and able to get down from a high perch, but can't get up to a high perch. She has been very socialized with people, especially the 5yr old g'dtr, who plays with her like a puppy at times, placing her in a wicker dog basket with blankets and toys. Emma just lays there and goes to sleep. This is Emma's history.

    What I'm concerned about now and don't know what to do is this.....it's winter, snowy and cold. She is NOT going to the coop at dusk. We have to go search for her with a flashlight. Last night she was on the edge of the road by the mailbox. After dark chickens cannot see, correct? There are tube lights on deck and I think she sees them but she did not even get close last night. So for the last three nights I have brought her in the house, first two nights I put a hen diaper on her and she's fine with it, walks around, eats, drinks, sleeps. Last nite I brought her inside again and put her in a small wood crate and covered it up so she could sleep. She definitely is a 'pet' to all of us, due to her dainty, sweet, shy nature. But I really do not want this to be a continuous thing, living in the house. I don't mind a house pet but the diaper thing is more than I want to tackle on a regular basis. And then what do we do when we are not home?

    Also, when I brought her in last nite, she had fresh bright red blood on her comb and beak. I could find no injury or damage to her and she acted just as normal as she ever did.

    I've read here where stress/trauma will change their behavior. I'm wondering if this is the case with her. But why would she NOT go to her coop at dusk? Has anyone had a similar situation and what do you suggest I do with Emma. If we don't scoop her up and bring her inside the house or coop, she will surely freeze to death...and there will be more tears flowing than I care to even think about. Thanks for your help.
  2. grandmaof5

    grandmaof5 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 8, 2009
    Central N.S.
    Are you sure she CAN see, that she isn't blind?
  3. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Sounds like she is, in the flock's eyes, weak and to be eliminated for the sake of the flock. I'm afraid you've created a pet who will forever be at the bottom of the pecking order. I imagine the blood was from a small peck or two that healed over fast enough that you could no longer see them. They won't get nicer.

    Perhaps you can keep her in the crate in the house, perhaps make a slightly larger crate, and let whoever wants to, take her out for cuddling or (supervised) outdoor time. I'm afraid she will never be safe with the flock.

    I could be all wet, but that's how it looks to me.
  4. SnowycreeksHens

    SnowycreeksHens New Egg

    Nov 29, 2010
    Whitney Point
    Oh Lordy, I was afraid the 'pecking order' might be her demise and that's kinda what you are saying here. Would it be possible for her to have her very own coop and run....all by herself...or maybe with one other smaller chickie?

    Is she blind? Gosh, I don't think so...how would you tell? She walks around out doors, pecks at things, finds her way up the steps on onto the deck and she tilts her head to check things out. I haven't seen her stumble or such. When in the house she's checking out the futon cover, pillows, curtains and then settles on edge of futon to watch everyone, sometimes closing her eyes to catnap.

    I forgot to mention that we also have 2 dogs and 1 cat and none seem to bother the other.....dogs and cat will go into coop to check things out, sniff around, leave....and try to snag the goodies I've tossed in yard for the chickies....they kinda eat side by side. We have a field across the road with neighbors sheep and I've seen my hens exploring over there...as well as THEIR roos and hens coming over to OUR place...found the neighbors flock right in my run one day, before I had let mine out of their coop. All one big happy family. Except for my Emma.

    Thanks for the thots! It helps to hear from others with more experience than I, for sure!
  5. sharol

    sharol Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 13, 2010
    Admire, KS
    sounds like you have a house chicken whether you want one or not. Maybe she could have supervised time with the family and outside. Your last statement about her says it all.

  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    Pen all the birds up in the coop for a week until she learns to roost in the coop...she will do fine. All chickens have a place in the roosting order and she will probably be on the bottom of the totem pole...and then again, she may just surprise you.

    I have a Partridge Rock pullet that prefers to roost above the dog's bed in the barn next to the coop. Apparently she likes to be alone and I don't push it, but if I found her anywhere but roosting somewhere safe at night I would have to train her to the coop roosts.

    All these years of raising chickens, I've never yet had one that couldn't find enough to eat or drink, no matter where they are in the pecking order. Let her be, let her fit in the flock in her own way...she will. If you continue to isolate her and help her along, you will always have to do it.
  7. janinepeters

    janinepeters Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 9, 2009
    I would not pen her up with the other birds. If they have already injured her, they may kill her. I have seen bottom of peck order not get enough to eat/drink, and die. At least I think that's why she died. Now I watch carefully and and add extra feeders and waterers as necessary, so that everyone can get what they need without being bullied.

    I think it's a bad sign when bottom of the peck order has no friends at all within the flock. Sometimes the bottom chicken manages to befriend one of her superiors, and then she's okay. The others leave her alone when she sticks by her friend. My bottom girl now is a little bantam brahma hen who has ingratiated herself on the rooster. With him at her side, the bigger, badder hens will not bother her.

    I think the options for Emma are house pet, or get a separate little coop and a few chicks this spring of some mellow, bantam breed. As the larger, incumbent hen, Emma will be at the top of the heap, and live happily ever after with them.
  8. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Quote:I agree. This chicken is not a "normal" chicken; sounds like it will always be targeted by the others, and getting killed is the logical outcome.
  9. wegotchickens

    wegotchickens DownSouth D'Uccles & Silkies

    Jul 5, 2007
    Sevier County, TN
    I agree that she needs smaller buddy-birds, if you want her to survive, and that you'll have to give her special care until then.
    Also, I wouldn't let her free-range without supervision. Keep her in a secure run attached to the coop.

    I have a hen that is aloof. She gets plenty to eat and drink, but always sleeps outside of the coop, on the ledge in front of the doorway. There's an overhang, so she stays dry. But not warm. She's a bantam, and I put her inside the coop for a while. Finally I gave up, and let her be. She's still with us, despite sleeping alone on 15 degree nights. But I'm going to sell her at the next show. Maybe in a new home she'll have a new rank, and be happier. I don't have room or time for special-needs birds, but i feel sorry for her [​IMG]
  10. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Quote:I agree with Dawn. Case in point why when treating an injury, I try my best to avoid removing them from the flock. Even if that means going to town and buying yet another dog crate. [​IMG]

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