Dithering...good or bad sign?

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rick
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Re: Dithering...good or bad sign?

Post by rick » Sun Jun 24, 2018 12:47 am

Bantams=Banter wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 9:10 pm
The Bluebelle, (Margo) is being an absolute swine to the Speckledy (Mondi) this bedtime! Chasing her, pecking her, jumping on her... They were all trying to jump up on the roof of the coop, so I read that as they wanted to go in, so I put them all in the house tonight.
They will sort it out given time BB. These things play out as they are feeling more secure, oddly enough - when it is all new they put the pecking order on hold but as they settle in they start to work out their differences. I have heard before that speckledies tend to be bottom of the pecking order. She will be fine - its very early days.
Can I suggest that as your run is all weld mesh and quite safe it would be better to let them roost wherever they want to for the moment? Familiarity will soon grow, things cool off within a week or two but it can be stressful in the process.
My lot get along fine now but my Orp (also a sensitive soul) had a really bad time of it joining a pre-existing flock. I got her with a friend who unfortunately died leaving her to integrate on her own.
When you say 'they are all so big' I'm thinking that it may be a tight squeeze in the coop? They need at least 8 inches of perch each ideally when they are all getting along normally.
The least likely thing is that they will leave the garden. Chooks are very nervous about leaving their known territory (and your garden is already their known territory).
Trust your outer defenses (the weld mesh sound pretty good to me) and give them the space to work it out for the moment. Its very early days - it will cool down once Margo feels that she has impressed her position. Your chickens are all hardy and it is summer - mine roost on a sheltered open perch in the middle of winter - no problem at all!
Don't worry! It will all blow over surprisingly quickly.
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Re: Dithering...good or bad sign?

Post by Marigold » Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:00 am

All this is normal. A bit distressing, but they will settle down. They're probably not very happy yet, (would you be, if suddenly plonked in with two strangers in a new place?) but it will be OK once they find their way around and get used to you. You just have to let them have time and space to work out their pecking order. Once they know and accept who is going to be boss, and where the other two fit in, they will be fine. How big is the run? Space is key with chickens, so once you've taught them to follow you when you shake the corn box (they will learn this more or less immediately) you could let them out to explore if you are there to keep an eye on them. You haven't got any flighty breeds, so if not alarmed they are unlikely to fly away. Try to give them a quiet life, with minimum close-up attention except when offering treats, let them come to you, don't try to catch them.
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Re: Dithering...good or bad sign?

Post by Bantams=Banter » Sun Jun 24, 2018 9:09 am

Gosh, thank you both!

The run is 4m sq Marigold. I let them out last night for a bit in the garden and now the Bluebelle is pacing up and down by the run door to be let out again! As someone who is very anti- zoo this is killing me!!! But I can't let them have garden time every day. I've built them a lovely dust bath in the run, and they've not been in it! X

Rick, l'm on a late shift at work tonight (5-11) so I'm going to have to let them find their own way in to bed. I'll check them when I get home. Yes, it's welded steele but I'm super-paranoid... X
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Re: Dithering...good or bad sign?

Post by Tweetypie » Sun Jun 24, 2018 9:13 am

I've enjoyed catching up on this thread, after a couple of days being busy doing other stuff. It's good to know and learn from different experiences, particularly as I am also considering another pair. It's so helpful having this forum, with all the great voices of experience and the comfort of knowing you are not alone - because chances are, that someone will have had the same or similar problem, at some time during their ownership of hens.

I am sure bantams-banter will be so happy she got her hens, in a week's time, when they are all settled. :-)
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Re: Dithering...good or bad sign?

Post by rick » Sun Jun 24, 2018 9:31 am

Just to clarify, because it is sometimes confusing -
Do you mean 4 x 4 meters = 16 sq metres
or 2 x 2 metres = 4 square metres?
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Re: Dithering...good or bad sign?

Post by bigyetiman » Sun Jun 24, 2018 5:18 pm

Congrats on the new girls. Don,t stress too much about keeping them in at times they will get used to a routine and far better to keep them safe if you are not around all the time. They will sort things out between themselves over the next week or so and things will be fine
Margo Leadbetter is a brilliant name for the Bluebelle as they are somewhat bossy, I know we have a very bossy 6 year old who stomps about like Darth Vader.
Ours go to bed pretty well except one who always wants to be up later than everyone else and jumps up and down pretending to catch imaginary flies. The hen equivalent of kids needing a drink or another bedtime story. At the moment their bedtime is way past mine, on earlies this week 3.45am start.
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Re: Dithering...good or bad sign?

Post by Bantams=Banter » Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:10 pm

rick wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 9:31 am
Just to clarify, because it is sometimes confusing -
Do you mean 4 x 4 meters = 16 sq metres
or 2 x 2 metres = 4 square metres?
2m x 2m. It's the Omlet walk in run
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Re: Dithering...good or bad sign?

Post by Bantams=Banter » Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:15 pm

bigyetiman wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 5:18 pm
Congrats on the new girls. Don,t stress too much about keeping them in at times they will get used to a routine and far better to keep them safe if you are not around all the time. They will sort things out between themselves over the next week or so and things will be fine
Margo Leadbetter is a brilliant name for the Bluebelle as they are somewhat bossy, I know we have a very bossy 6 year old who stomps about like Darth Vader.
Ours go to bed pretty well except one who always wants to be up later than everyone else and jumps up and down pretending to catch imaginary flies. The hen equivalent of kids needing a drink or another bedtime story. At the moment their bedtime is way past mine, on earlies this week 3.45am start.
I'm visualising your Bluebelle in a black cape too :) I love the comparison with a child wanting another drink or story too!!
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Re: Dithering...good or bad sign?

Post by Margaid » Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:30 pm

Sorry to have to say this B=B but that's only 4 square metres which isn't really enough space to keep them shut in all day. The recommended minimum is 2 square metres per hen, in your case 6 square metres. It really annoys me when I see adverts with too many chickens in the run space. I know the runs are quite expensive if bought new, but if you can save the pennies to extend it by another section (or even better, two) your hens will be much happier when shut in there and you won't get the problems that arise from being overcrowded, like feather pecking.
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Re: Dithering...good or bad sign?

Post by rick » Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:36 pm

Yes, its a classic mistake. When I got my first 3 hens it was with a small wooden coop and run sold as good for 3 hens. It was tiny - barely 2 meters of run space and quickly turned into a series of Heath Robinson extensions to get up to 6 sqm before eventually binning the whole ramshackle lot and building a covered aviary.
On the plus side they are very secure. If fastened down well I wouldn't have any worries about a fox getting in - and at least its an off the shelf solution thats guaranteed to work.

In the meanwhile you could try the trick of putting a small table in there with some food and water on it to increase the amount of space for the lowest in the pecking order to retreat to - or, more likely, the bossiest bird will commender the table leaving the other two in peace on the floor. Another way to increase effective space is to make a screen between two of the table legs (or otherwise) so that a beleaguered hen can be anonymous for a while behind the screen. Its all about getting out of sight of each other if they want to - chickens have excellent, high resolution and extended colour vision (very poor low light vision) but are unable to focus sharply beyond a yard (due to their foraging bird style flattened eyeballs.) If they can get far enough away from each other (not actually very far) they can be sufficiently anonymous in a flock not to trigger aggressive behavior from others. Thats where the magic 2 sqm per bird comes from. The aggressive behavior subsides with familiarity - within limits.
Last edited by rick on Sun Jun 24, 2018 9:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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