I am new to owning chickens. I purchased my three pullets (2x RIR and 1 BR) about a month ago, all from the same age and the same breeder. When they arrived I noticed that the darker RIR (I've named her Sue) had some feathers missing from behind her comb, and it became quickly apparent that she is at the bottom of the pecking order, while my smallest bird, Jenny (the BR) is the boss.
However, over the last couple of days I have noticed that Sue has been very stressed indeed. She is very scared and flighty, darting away from me whenever I walk past, and she is constantly making this clucking noise as she walks around. I have repeatedly observed Peggy, the other RIR, picking on her. Peggy will nip at her head when she tries to eat from the feeder or have some water (not all the time though, which is odd), and today when I was outside picking up poop I noticed Peggy actually 'kick' Sue in the chest for no apparent reason, to which Sue ran off clucking. I also noticed that, sometimes, if Sue has to go near Peggy she puffs all her feathers up and makes loud noises at her, I'm assuming as a kind of "don't mess with me" thing? Just to clarify, there doesn't seem to be an issue with the boss-bird, Jenny, and Sue. This is a middle child kind of thing with Peggy.
My birds have free range of the whole section all day, but are locked up in their run overnight just to make sure no animals prey on them while they're sleeping in the coop. They have ad-lib access to their food, which is in one of those feeders they have to stand on to open, and there is more than one water bowl for them to drink from.
What should I do for poor Sue? It makes me really sad to think she is being bullied, and I know it's kind of normal for chooks but things definitely seem to have escalated this week and I want to take it down a notch or two. I am purchasing some wound stuff for Sue's head to help it heal faster - should I be doing something else too? They are all still laying like troopers, and their appetites, etc seem normal. I just want Peggy to leave Sue alone
I look forward to your advice,