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Gloria Dilemma

…and Gloria makes one. It’s been a little over a week now, and I can’t tell if Gloria misses her sister or not. She is acting pretty normally, and laying eggs almost every day (she usually stops when stressed) but is she lonely? I’m especially concerned about this Winter… will she need a friend(s) to keep her warm and cozy? I’m looking for advice here. The more I research it, the more the process of introducing chickens sounds completely intimidating and stressful to all humans and chickens involved… including possible illnesses, injuries, fights and drama, not to mention the expense. We would for sure need another coop, especially for the introductory period. So… I’m wondering if the end result would be worth it, or if Gloria would just be happier to live out the rest of her days alone (with visits from us and neighborhood cats / birds / raccoons(!) of course. Any ideas… advice… pros/cons welcome!

backyard chicken in coop

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17 thoughts on “Gloria Dilemma

  1. I wondered about Gloria but I figured you had enough on your plate without worrying about her.

    People do say chickens are flock animals so don’t do well alone. Maybe it’s not stressful but are they happy? I’ve certainly noticed that even the chickens that don’t seem to get along end up near each other when bathing, sleeping, wandering around – the bullying is generally only when new food is available.

    The whole flock thing is why we started with 3 chickens, if we lost one, we’d still have 2. I’ve read a lot about it and people are pretty adamant that you shouldn’t keep a chicken alone. And you should always introduce more than 1 when you add birds so you’d end up with 3 if you add 2. I think if you add pullets rather than full grown hens the pecking order can be established quickly since the adult hen will always be top dog. I’ve also read and heard about a lot of people (people on farms laugh when I talk about careful flock introduction) who just put the birds together with no introduction period (seems to work better if you sneak new birds into the coop at night) and everything goes along without too much drama.

    It’s a tough call, I don’t envy your position.

    I have met a woman who had several chickens, one of which lived alone in a small coop. I was worried about her and asked why she was isolated. The owner said she had been from their first flock and was old now and the young flock kept bullying her so they moved her away and she seemed fine.

    If only chickens were nicer to each other…

    Good luck whatever you decide. And keep us informed.

    • Thanks! Great Advice! I will probably give it a go. I was looking at some 21 wk old pullets just starting to lay, but they’ve been outside on a farm, and I hear that’s when they can get exposed to different things so they would need to be quarantined. Then today, I found some that are 10 wks old at a chicken store… smaller, but probably disease free, so I think I will probably get 2 of those and keep them inside for a few weeks… building up supervised visits outside with Gloria… and hopefully she will accept them by the time they are ready to join her in the coop!

      • I’m so excited for you. New chickens to get to know. I’m not too jealous of your keeping them in the house though – chickens aren’t exactly house pets in my mind, but I’m sure you’ll all survive until they’re old enough and Gloria is just as excited to lead her new flock as you are to let her.

      • I know… but they still look pretty small and can hang out in our laundry room in the cage where we brooded last time… and hopefully Gloria will be a good sport and it won’t take very long! They have all their feathers so it could really be any time. That’s why it seemed the perfect age to get, so we have options… and don’t need to buy a new coop with nesting boxes for them immediately.

  2. I would get her a friend. I don’t know how cold it gets there but a friend definitely helps with warmth and social aspects as well.
    What was her personality in the previous flock? If she wasn’t the lead hen you have a pretty good chance. Even if she was it might work since she has no other friends.
    Based on our experience with introducing birds I would say you can do it without another coop. If you only want one, I would get a newly laying age pullet. Like a 20-24 week old. If you want two I would get 14-16 week olds. Put her (them) in a metal dog crate next to the coop for several hours during the day so they can meet through the wire. Let Gloria free range. Then open it and sit out there to watch the interaction. Expect a few fights while they decide that Gloria is the boss (the most likely outcome). But the spats should be short lived, with one (probably the new one) giving up quickly and running away. The winner should not follow and pester the loser incessantly though. By bedtime they should be ready to close up without any major fights, but it should take a few days for the bickering to quit. This isn’t guaranteed of course, but we have had good success with our many integrations.
    It seems like the key is to balance the age of the birds with how many are new vs currently living in the coop. And give them plenty of space during the first introduction so they can run away when they want to.
    Like I said…not guaranteed to work, but balancing it in those ways has worked for us. You of course risk Gloria picking on the newbies like crazy. It depends on her personality. If she was the dominant hen it is more likely.
    Good luck!

    • Great advice! Thanks! I just replied this same info to Laura, but just in case you don’t see it: I was looking at some 21 wk old pullets just starting to lay, but they’ve been outside on a farm, and I hear that’s when they can get exposed to different things so they would need to be quarantined. Then today, I found some that are 10 wks old at a chicken store of the same breeds l was looking at… smaller and younger, but probably disease free, so I think I will probably get 2 of those and keep them inside for a few weeks… building up supervised visits outside with Gloria… and hopefully she will accept them by the time they are ready to join her in the coop! Gloria was definitely the leader of Cleo, and would peck at her occasionally, but she never hurt her, and she’s never been aggressive, so hopefully she will be just as kind (if strict) with the new girls. I guess we will take it slow and hope for the best. 🙂

    • I know, right? I’m really glad I asked you all, instead of just continuing to stew about it. The vastness of the internet can be overwhelming and impersonal, so I’m really grateful I’ve gotten to know such experienced, like-minded souls who have fabulous chickens too! 🙂

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