When a friend recently sold her home we took two of her little hens so she could still see them. Raised by hand from chicks they are sweet, tame and tons of fun. I had no idea hens raised from chicks were so different from hens brought home as pullets. I brought them home March 3 in our puppy carrier.
My three came to us as “teenagers” and even though I’ve tried to hold them and feed them by hand, they are still not really “pets”. Hers are actually excited when I come to the coop and literally hop up into my arms when I open the door! They eat and drink out of my hand, sit on my lap and let me catch them when it’s time to return to the run. My girls, if they ever get out, are very difficult to get back in the coop and don’t care to be held!
I did my research and knew my chickens would probably not accept the new hens at first, but wow, I didn’t expect them to turn into “mean girls”!
Before picking them up we installed a chicken wire divider to keep my three and the new two separate so they could get used to each other:
Things were a little rough at first. Pebbles, the Buff Orphington, had her comb pecked quite a bit and it began to look a little ragged. Windy, the Barred Rock (who is only distinguished from my Barred Rock because her beak has less black) was less intimidated by my girls but they still went after her. The girls wouldn’t let them drink, eat, or nest without a fuss. Talking to my friend, the Buff Orphington, Pebbles, was on the bottom rung of the pecking order at her coop too.
Day after day I let her out, with her buddy Windy, so she could drink from a separate water dish and have a little alone time. She sat on my lap, wandered the yard and followed my little granddaughters around like a puppy. We were falling in love with her…and fast! Who knew a chicken could be so loving?
Little by little things got better. We installed a new roost in the run for the new girls ( a little higher than the old girl’s roost) and that gave them a safe place to land. We moved the water so it would be “new” for everyone. We let the new girls out to roam, since they were used to that, and it seemed to calm them down. And finally, one day in April, about a month after they arrived, when I went out to collect eggs…..there was Pebbles in the nesting area with Lucy, her toughest opponent. Pebbles is clearly keeping an eye on her but they seemed to have come to some kind of agreement!
The new girls still sleep on the floor of the coop since the mean girls won’t let them on the sleeping roost, but they don’t seem to mind since they get free run of the yard (and sometimes when we’re not looking …the house) once a day as a special treat!