wisdom of adopting a friend's hen?


12 Years
Oct 30, 2010
Schuylerville, NY
A friend has a hen getting bullied by his 10 or so others. We have only 3 and could take her but I am so hesitant to rock the boat. Our 3 get along and range during the day; we have a small henhouse with covered pen which they like enough to hang out in even when not locked in.
But....I want to help our friend and, even more, his poor pecked girl.
He is a little casual about cleanliness and his hens have a big pen but don't free range. I am concerned about health of our 3. I'd be distraught if we unintentionally introduced something (I have heard that some people are very careful about this-is this mostly those who keep large flocks?) that killed or made our girls sick.
If we introduced them with chicken wire between them to get them used to each other, what further precautions would we need healthwise? And for how long ? How would we know if she had issues that would sicken ours if she is healthy?
As well, if she has been pecked and has scabs on her head, will this encourage ours to peck her too?
Ours are in the latter stages of their yearly molt which makes them a bit skittish anyway. Not sure if this matters in terms of altering their habits/number/general M.O.
There is always risk when bringing in new birds to your flock. You can quarantine the new one but even with that, she could be a carrier of some respiratory disease and not show any signs during that time. You can also bring in new strains of cocci that your birds haven't previously come in contact with and are not immune too. Just something to remember and watch out for.

It can be very hard to integrate just one new bird, especially in a small flock, all the attention is fixated on the one new bird. I've done it in the past, I don't do it anymore, I've just had to much trouble with single new birds. It's much easier with a few new ones. If you decide to get her, fence off part of the run for her and let her sleep in the coop in a dog crate. The more they can see her and get used to her without contact that better. Free ranging with them help a lot too since there's plenty of room to get away.
I personally probably would not take in anyone's chicken. I had a neighbor who got baby ducks at the same time as I was raising chicks...she called and asked if she could put her ducks in with my chicks for a while, I said no. I was concerned about germs and exposing my chicks to something that would cause problems or worse. Although that was a temporary situation...it might be worth it for you if she is laying or close to laying and you get to keep her.
If you decide to take her in I would definitely quarantine her for 30 days and treat her for lice, mites, and worms just as a precaution before I introduced her to my flock. It would be nice for her to be given such a wonderful home, as your home. But this decision is a personal one and you will have to decide for yourself if it is something you want to take on.
good info from cafarmgirl
thanks for the advice. Having lost 3 of our first 4 to predators I can't stand to think of introducing illness. Having such a small flock makes each one even more petlike.
Getting a new one treated for lice, mites, and such makes sense. I don't know if there is treatment/vaccine for cocci....I will look into it and the other things you bring up. I am leaning pretty hard against this....just hate it when they get pecked badly as this happened to one of ours-almost died from a rooster pecking (rooster went, she recovered well. She is also the one who saw her first three sisters get killed...made her skittish though she is top girl in the current arrangement.)
Yes, there is treatment for coccidiosis, it's liquid or powder form that is added to their water for 5 to 7 days. It's pretty easy to treat if it did crop up provided you catch it in it's early stage. Caught to late it is a fast killer. Although that actually would probably be the least of my worries with bringing in a new bird from another farm. My biggest concern is all the respiratory diseases. Once you've got them in your flock you are pretty much stuck with it until all those birds are gone.
The thread I have been following brought coryza to her flock by bringing in a new bird. She lost several birds until she figured out what was going on and got a treatment going. The really bad thing is that her surviving birds will always be carriers and spreaders of the disease. So she can't bring in any chicks or anything until her current birds die and she cleans everything thoughly. Seems not worth it ot me unless there is a test at the vet that can be done to ensure she is not a carrier. Let us know what you decide!

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