Baby Steps

Sometimes things don’t go according to plan, take my new hens for example; since my last post I’ve been really busy integrating hens (which can be a nightmare at times), unfortunately I’ve also had to nurse a very poorly one. Myrtle, my Bluebelle hen became ill not long after I got her, she had to be quarantined and needed meds from my vet, the good news is she’s slowly on the mend. Myrtle hasn’t been with the others for a long while and was leaning towards being bottom hen when she was, sadly, her chances of a smooth and peaceful return to the flock are minimal. The others have sorted their pecking order out and have bonded well, they will reject Myrtle now and view her as an outsider. The trouble is, she wasn’t with the flock long enough to form any firm friendships or find her place in the pecking order, instead, she’s petrified of being anywhere near them. The others will give her a hard time and stop her from eating etc, perhaps even cause her serious injury. I’m not being over dramatic, as much as I love keeping chickens they can be really cruel at times.

I’m going to try something else to suit Myrtle’s temperament and needs. Once she’s fitter I will have a go at integrating her with my old ex battery girls. I’d never normally advise integrating a lone hen but at the moment I haven’t got many options left. My old girls are very nice natured birds, they hardly squabbled when I first got them and there has never been a single peck since. I couldn’t tell you who is top hen and who is bottom, that’s how laid back they are. Due to battery cage injuries to their legs, two of my old girls won’t chase Myrtle, the other girl is fitter and would be the only real challenge. Being docile by nature, I’d be very surprised if Myrtle attacked back if she were to receive any pecking. I’m sure there will be some ‘argy-bargy’, but I’m confident that with a lot of supervision from me and plenty of mealworms I can bribe my gentle old girls into taking baby Myrtle under their wings. Eventually.

It’s a matter of baby steps, slowly, in the right direction. I will let you know how it goes.

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12 comments

  1. Poor Myrtle, I hope she will soon be in good health and that she will settle in well with your ex-bats. She looks just so like Smokie, but going by her comb she is younger than Smokie was when we got her. Smokie has never retaliated to Amber’s pecking, but just walked (or ran) away. When Amber flew at her at the beginning she did fight back, though, but that was the only time and we realise now we put them together far too early. The three of them seem to get on fine now. She is still the most timid of the three and keeps well away from us.

  2. Oh dear, you’re really going through it at the moment with your chickens aren’t you (sad face)

    I’m sure you will get her intergrated ok and whilst it may take time I’m sure in the long you both you and her will benefit. Who knows she could become ‘top hen’ and surprise everyone!

  3. I watched a programme a while ago and was quite shocked to see how violent and cruel chickens could be to each other. I hope Myrtle perks up soon and that she is welcomed by the older hens. Fingers crossed.

  4. I read to pop them in the coup after dark when the others are dopey. I tried it and it has worked well, even with a single chicken. The settling was a lot calmer.
    Good luck with it.

  5. Pardon me for asking, but I remember being told once that you can safely introduce hens during sleep and they will be accepted as part of the group, though the order will be settled once again.

  6. Yes you’re right Sally, that’s how I integrate hens as well as lots of mealworms (always goes down well) and free ranging them together. You must let them out of the coop very early in the morning to begin with, just until they’re settled.

  7. gardeningforselfsufficiency——-intersting to read all that–I have great difficulty integrating new hens and hate to see them being pecked so viciously. Have 20 at the moment and about to get some more this week—-will put them in the coup at nightas yo say

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