Lesson 1057 – The eagles have landed

two marans
Yesterday we got two new additions to our flock. Two young Marans, one – a Black Copper, the other a Blue Splash. We got them from a woman who had an existing flock and when these two were recently introduced realized that they were “mean girls” who disrupted the vibe of the flock.

We’ve had some mean chickens before and so I completely understand how upsetting this can be, especially if you’ve got a younger flock that is still trying to establish itself.

This woman had taken the Chicken workshop I teach in town and knew that I had been looking for more Marans (our ex-house chicken Charlie is a Marans and I *adore* that bird – I’m pretty much always looking for Marans.)

The kids and I set up a portable pen for the new girls and kept them out in the yard while the rest of the flock free-ranged. Occasionally, I’d see one of my girls approach the pen with her hackles up, ready to challenge. This, of course, was met with equal bravado from the new girls. No one was going to challenge each other and get away with it.

Uh, oh, as the mother of 6 who knows how to recognize bickering before it even gets started, I knew I had my work cut out for me.

Because we still have littles, who need to be protected from any aggressive adults, my plan was to move the temporary pen into the coop at night  in order to keep the Marans separate from the rest of the flock. I wanted them to have more time to get used to each other before we put them all together.

Apparently my kids had a different idea. Marc and I both had events to go to last night and when we returned around 10, I asked Marc if the chickens had been put away. He didn’t know so I went outside to check. Not only had my kids put the chickens away, but the new birds had been freely incorporated into the coop.

All for one and one for all – it works for the musketeers, not so much when you have mean girls. Uh-oh.

Using my flashlight I shone a light into the coop and found both Marans quietly roosting next to the rest of the girls. They looked up, blinked, and then settled down again.

This morning when Addy and I released the flock, all the girls came out of the coop, civil as can be. I kept my eyes on the Marans – as they walked by Zelda, she reached out and delicately pecked them each on their butts just to remind them of their place in the flock. The Marans quickly scooted away.

IMG_20140619_062629605_HDR

I turned to Addy, “Move along people, there’s nothing to worry about here.”

This is what a Top Dog looks like.

This is what a Top Dog looks like.

***
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Lesson 1057 – The eagles have landed

  1. Nancy

    Good work! Sounds like that went better than you could have expected!
    I have 12 hens, 2 that I’ve kept separated from the rest of the flock for about 6 weeks. One had a leg badly broken by a fox, and the other was sick and needed antibiotics and recovery time, but is underweight and keeps to herself. Now I am having trouble reintegrating them. They get attacked by the alpha hens. The one with the damaged leg is particularly vulnerable, as she can’t (and never will be able to) run. Would this “under cover of darkness” technique work for my girls, or would they be forever outcast because of their weakness and disability (in contrast to your addition of 2 hale and healthy birds)…? I’m afraid to put them together at night, concerned about the damage that could be inflicted in the very early morning hours, all 12 confined in the coop.

    • Wendy Thomas

      That’s a tough situation. We’ve had a few cases where adults who were removed and then re-introduced had a rough time of it.

      The pecking order needs to be established, so try to be hands off and let them work things out among themselves, after a few days, things might calm down. *However* if you see your birds getting injured or not eating then you need to step in.

      We had a chicken who, during the day, needed to be put in a private pen with her own supply of food and water to make sure she got enough. And just this week, I removed a frizzle who had some pecking injuries on her back (that poor bird has been picked on for the 5 years I’ve had her) she spent the day and night in the rabbit hutch (now a chicken ICU) and when I thought she was recovered enough, I returned her. You can bet though, that she’ll be on my radar of those to keep an eye on.

      Good luck with your flock and let me know how things turn out.

      Wendy

      On Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 9:34 AM, Lessons Learned from the Flock wrote:

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  2. Wendy Thomas

    Top dog is our Zelda, Zelda used to be a hen but over the winter she became a rooster (I’ve written some posts on her – search “Zelda”.) Of course, she’s not a “real” rooster but she certainly has changed to look like one.

    She used to lay blue green eggs but now she doesn’t lay anymore and instead has become the full time top dog of our flock.

    Wendy

    On Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 9:48 AM, Lessons Learned from the Flock wrote:

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