Thursday, May 26, 2016

Introducing the roo

I never had to integrate birds into a flock before, and certainly had never introduced a single bird to an established flock. I was bound to make mistakes, and I did straight away.

I had read numerous stories where people successfully slipped a new bird in the coop after all were in for the night and roosting, and then the next morning things were great.

I tried it. It failed miserably.

They beat my little guy up. It's completely normal for them to establish their new pecking order, but they weren't letting up even after he had submitted. I had to break them up and snag him. The poor little guy was even playing dead and they were pecking him!

I brought him inside and snuggled him a little bit, and decided that I had to do it much differently. I set up a metal dog cage inside the enclosed part of my chicken coop and added a bit of cardboard to offer some protection from not only the elements, but a way to hide from the girls if they were overwhelming him.

There is still plastic on the western side of the enclosed run since weather is unpredictable here!
Each night I brought him inside since he was still young and it was dropping to freezing here. While I wouldn't have worried about him inside the coop with the other girls for warmth, by himself in a drafty cage is a different story!

After about a week of the above set up, I let him free range a bit with the girls. He wanted to be with us more than the girls...

He flew up into our window to be with us instead of the girls. Squiggle didn't mind this at all!

He tried to stay there for the night (as you can see above), but this was the night I put him back in with the girls and crossed my fingers. When I woke up, he was hiding behind the food in the enclosed run, but nobody was attacking him. The next day I found him backed against the wall of the enclosed run ready to get out with the girls all staring at him, but no fighting. I don't know where he slept that night, but I assume in the dirt again. Both nights I had the metal cage open in case he wanted to roost in the cage, but it also gave him access to the coop.

Night 3, he decided to follow the girls into the coop to roost a bit after them. They chased him out twice. A bit later, he decided to try again. This time was a success, and he roosted on the bottom of the two roosts in the coop. The next night was the same, but the girls were not all clumped together on the top bar, but rather a couple of them were right in front of him.

On the third night, I saw this:

and about 45 minutes later, this:

He still runs away when they get too close to him, but they aren't trying to hurt him anymore, and they let him roost with them.

Sadly, he won't let me near him anymore. When they would attack him before, he would fly up onto me for protection. Now he seems to be equally wary of the girls and us. I'm sad because I loved holding him, but so long as he doesn't become aggressive towards us, he won't become dinner.

He's still young, so he hasn't tried to do any of the typical male duties with the hens, but once he comes into maturity I'm sure we'll see a temperament change a bit. Hopefully he steps up as protector, and remembers that we (the humans) are family, not foes.

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for the content of this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.

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