Sunday, July 3, 2011


Two years ago our neighbor decided he wanted to get some laying hens, so he ordered 24 for he and his wife. He then felt that he had gotten too many so we bought some pullets from him to expand our flock that had been decimated 2 years prior (so 4 years ago)to a predator. We had only 3 hens left so the chicks were a welcome addition to our flock.

We bought 10 from him and set them up in our barn (actually a loafing shed with an enclosed indoor area with two sections that we set up) and eagerly cared for them knowing that in about 5 1/2 months we would have fresh eggs. No more buying pale yolked eggs from the supermarket for us. Well, about 3 weeks later, I went out one morning to find that I had 1 pullet running around wildly and evidence of a creature that had gotten into the barn and dug under the partition and pulled out 9 of the pullets for a tasty meal! I was heartbroken. It is hard to lose livestock to predators. It was most likely a skunk who didn't get skunked. We call our neighbor and he took back the lone pullet to raise. When the chickens were about 3 months old, he gave us her back along with a chicken who was a he that was supposed to be a she. So now I had 4 layers and a soon to be rooster.

Fast forward to 2011. Our neighbor was very generous supplying us with eggs last summer, but then his hens went on hiatus so it was back to store bought eggs again. So this spring we decided we would creature proof our barn so nothing could dig under and deprive us of our egg layers. We stapled chicken wire around the bottom of the barn and it lays on the ground so if something does try to dig under, it will run into chicken wire. The dirt and shavings on the floor of the barn cover the wire so the chicks don't even know it's there. We ordered 18 chicks. 6 Rhode Island Red, 6 Black Sex Links, and 6 Buff Orpingtons. We lost 1 Black Sex Link, so we are left with 17 pullets.

The chicks are 2 1/2 months old now and this week we put them in with the older chickens. I don't know if there is a right or wrong way to introduce chickens to each other or not, but we just shooed the younger ones into the older ones side of the barn and let nature take its course. The rooster does not bother them at all. I have a yellow chicken that blends in with them and a very old black chicken that survived the massacre a few years ago that stays to herself. I don't think she will last much longer. Now 1 hen is an absolute bully and the pullets are terrified of her. We are trying to decide what to do with her. I'm thinking things will calm down soon, but if not should we put her in the stew pot? What have other readers done in this situation?


  1. I have alwasys believed as an animal owner the best thing we can do for our critters when they have outlived their job is to put them down ourselves. She is just one hen, she probably can't get after all of them at once. She'll get tired or find one to pick on. If she does, chicken n dumplings, yum yum. I love my chickens and mine are very accepting of new comers. Good luck!

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    We have left the pen gate open the last 2 days so all the chickens can get out and stretch their legs and have some room to breathe as well as scavenge. When we went out this afternoon to feed the pullets, that older hen seemed to not be busying herself so much with the newbies! I am hoping that with the added space of freedom during the day, this will alleviate the tension and the "hen pecking" order that has been so stressful up to this point. We are keeping a close eye on the flock and if things keep on a more upbeat note, I am thinking she has bought herself some time, but if not, as you say, chicken and dumplings!

  3. We had the same thing when we introduced our four new pullets to our three two year old hens this year. One of the hens especially was a bully. But these three hens have been 'yard pets' for two years and know our moods well. When the one went after the pullets, we went after her ...she was severely chastised for about five minutes and went off by herself to sulk for the rest of the day. She hasn't messed with the pullets since. We separate them at night but they have been together every day for the past month or so. They act like two separate flocks when they're in the yard together but they are civil to each other. The younger pullets are only about 3/4 grown but going to be bigger than the old hens someday ...maybe the old hens have figured that out and decided they better start being nice!

    : )


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