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Bossy and unproductive.... should I wait or give them the boot?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hey all,

I got my girls 1.5 weeks ago and there are 8 of them (well two I got two days ago). Two are around 7 weeks, one is four months and the rest range from 10 months to 1.5 years old. They all get along fairly well except for the first two I got. I know what kind everyone is except these two.

On the left (grey) is Spike (my husband named her) and she is the alpha hen. She doesn't even need to fight anybody about it she just looks at them and everyone runs for the edge of the fence line. She just sits around being grumpy, butting in when I feed them to eat and drink first, and doesn't allow anybody to roost on either of the two roosts in the coop. It's been over a week now and she hasn't layed any eggs while the others are all laying (except Brunhilde, and I'll get to her). Right now it's raining and Spike and Brunhilde are roosting in the coop and won't allow anybody else to come in. 

 

So on the right (white) is Brunhilde. She's the wanna be alpha and is the first to fight everyone to be sure they know she's on top but she still bows down to Spike. She's kind of her little stooge and just follows her around and sucks up to her all the time. She's not really a bully apart from being at the top of the pecking order and eating first(ish) but she's not excessive like Spike. She'd probably make for a good alpha. But she's not laying yet either and both of these birds were quite expensive and I was told they were very productive layers.

 

I guess I'm just looking for "what would you do's". I think the rest of the ladies might be happier and get along better without Spike being so mean. They all pick on the little ones a little but they allow them inside the coop, and allow them to have some treats and all that while Spike doesn't. She only lets Brunhilde around.

 

Would you get rid of Spike?

Would you get rid of both? I'm nervous that Brunhilde would be heart broken if I split them up.

Would you just give it time because it's only been less than two full weeks?

 

Thanks for your opinions in advance.

Oh and if you know what they are, I'd love to know.

post #2 of 8
Hello Kmack.
I would say 1.5 weeks is still very early on, especially since you have introduced two more hens two days ago. This means the flock is still sorting out pecking order. As long as Spike and Brunhilde aren't flying at the other birds, attacking and injuring them they are just displaying normal dominant behaviour. Although it doesn't seem very nice to us you need someone at the top of the pecking order.

As regards to the laying, how old are Spike and Brunhilde? If they are 1.5 years they may have had two laying seasons already and be about to moult (autumn is the normal time for this). They may be stressed from the move still which would stop them laying too. If they are less than 18 week old then they are too young. If they have just reached 18 weeks the light levels may be too low and they may not start laying until spring.

Hang on in there and see what happens.

Good luck
post #3 of 8

If there aren't excess feathers about the coop or run then they are not in molt. It can take over two weeks for birds to get adjusted and return to laying. As for the dominant behavior you can always cage the alpha female for three days or week in dog crate until the rest of the flock gets united then reintroduce her. This reshuffling of pecking order and since all the birds are new gaining of flock mentality may work to tame her. It takes time for birds to get that unit mentality, right now they are basically a bunch of strangers put together in confined space.

 

Brunhilda looks to be a hatchery Barred Rock. Her barring isn't crisp but still neater than a cuckoo pattern bird. You can double check if she's got yellow or white legs. White is Cuckoo Marans. I don't know what Spike is. She may be a mixed breed layer that Tractor Supply was selling a year ago as Tetra Tint, white bird with blue/black leakage. Try google image and compare.

 

http://cdn.backyardchickens.com/6/65/600x615px-65f4b0df_Tails.jpeg


Edited by Egghead_Jr - 11/10/15 at 1:18am

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thank you both. I'm new to chickens so their behavior can seem a little dramatic but it is very early I'll give them all time to adjust. To support your opinions, I came home after class this afternoon and all but the young chicks were in the coop. Those poor young ladies get picked on so badly. I didn't know that would happen or I wouldn't have gotten them with other birds with such a drastic age gap. They get along alright though and don't seem to really be bothered by it. 

Thanks again for your inputs! I will give google a check and see if I can identify the two of them. 

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Oh, and as for age, I was told they are about 10 months, but of course that could be not true. They don't appear to be molting, but the light levels could be insufficient. I've read they need somewhere around 15 hours and they're getting around 12-13 I think. I let them out around 7 and they go in of their own accord after the sun goes down and I come close the coop door once it's completely dark. They definitely took the move the hardest of all of them but have seemed to be more happy over the past day or so. We'll see how it goes. Today has been a lot less violent as far as I can tell.

 

I'm in Australia and it's summer here so I do hope they lay before spring....

post #6 of 8
Glad to here things are quieter now. If it's summer for you they'll probably sort themselves out before long. How to their combs look? Are they bright red and sort of moist looking or are they paler red and dry? You can also see if there is a two finger sized gap between the pubic bones under the vent (opening where eggs etc come out). Both of these things indicate laying. I bought 5 point of lay (POL) pullets from a rare breed market in September and 2 started laying after 2 to 3 weeks, 1 laid yesterday and the other two have laid about 3 and now nothing. That's the trouble when you buy anything of course - you never quite know the age etc. I have reared some of my own pure breed hens and they are 22 weeks old and haven't started laying, however pure breeds take longer to mature than hybrids.

I should think you'll be fine for light levels. I have hybrids who lay right through the winter (one of them (Twinkle) is five years old and still keeps popping out large white eggs. She is a hybrid of a white leghorn called a white star.

When I introduce new birds I quarantine them for two weeks, worm and dust them for mites etc, then section off a piece of the main run using electric fence posts and some fairly stiff light plastic garden netting (such as used for fruit cages). The birds can see each other and sometimes spar up, but nobody gets hurt. After a few weeks I open the netting a little and see what happens. Sometimes all is fine, but previously I've had two large fowl birds pin down and attack a little Pekin bantam. So, I separated them again and now all live together happily. This relies on having two houses, though you could separate them in the day and sneak the trouble makers in at night (not great to be catching chickens before work every day though).
post #7 of 8

Being Australian birds I can safely say Tetra Tint was way off. She's probably a splash color from a blue breed or mix. Splash color in blue varieties results from two color inhibitors. Blue variety has 3 colors, black - no inhibitors, blue - one inhibitor and splash- two inhibitors. Breeding a splash with black results in all blue birds. As for her breed, well that would be checked by comb type, leg color, egg color and body type. Blue Marans and Plymouth Rocks are a few breeds that come to mind in blue variety and have dual purpose body type like yours.

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

Reply

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MungoSummer View Post

Glad to here things are quieter now. If it's summer for you they'll probably sort themselves out before long. How to their combs look? Are they bright red and sort of moist looking or are they paler red and dry? You can also see if there is a two finger sized gap between the pubic bones under the vent (opening where eggs etc come out). Both of these things indicate laying. I bought 5 point of lay (POL) pullets from a rare breed market in September and 2 started laying after 2 to 3 weeks, 1 laid yesterday and the other two have laid about 3 and now nothing. That's the trouble when you buy anything of course - you never quite know the age etc. I have reared some of my own pure breed hens and they are 22 weeks old and haven't started laying, however pure breeds take longer to mature than hybrids.

I should think you'll be fine for light levels. I have hybrids who lay right through the winter (one of them (Twinkle) is five years old and still keeps popping out large white eggs. She is a hybrid of a white leghorn called a white star.

When I introduce new birds I quarantine them for two weeks, worm and dust them for mites etc, then section off a piece of the main run using electric fence posts and some fairly stiff light plastic garden netting (such as used for fruit cages). The birds can see each other and sometimes spar up, but nobody gets hurt. After a few weeks I open the netting a little and see what happens. Sometimes all is fine, but previously I've had two large fowl birds pin down and attack a little Pekin bantam. So, I separated them again and now all live together happily. This relies on having two houses, though you could separate them in the day and sneak the trouble makers in at night (not great to be catching chickens before work every day though).

Yeah I'm not so anxious about the egg production as I was at her just being what seemed to be excessively mean in my point of view but things are definitely quieting down. I've read a lot about it and eggs seem to come at all different times with each bird. All of their combs are nice and red, not pale at all. I don't know if I would describe them as moist but they aren't dry. I'm not so worried about getting eggs that I'm willing to catch them and stick my fingers in any personal orifices of theirs. That's not going to make eggs come any quicker so its unnecessary for me.

 

At this point it's just the little ones that are picked on too much, and not just by Spike, but everyone. They don't even want to go in the coop at night. I always find them huddled up somewhere in the yard when I come out to close the door at night :( I hope they're not getting hurt in there.... how long does it take for chickens to get a little bit bigger?

 

I'm just letting them work it out for themselves. If one were to be getting seriously hurt I'd make it stop but I'm not going to go separating and doing drastic and time consuming things just to delay the inevitable. They're going to bicker until they find their place I think. And also, being together gives them the opportunity to become closer. Relationships are quickly changing in the coop just over the past few days. It's my own personal little drama show. I love watching it. My husband gets the latest scoop from the coop each night haha.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Egghead_Jr View Post
 

Being Australian birds I can safely say Tetra Tint was way off. She's probably a splash color from a blue breed or mix. Splash color in blue varieties results from two color inhibitors. Blue variety has 3 colors, black - no inhibitors, blue - one inhibitor and splash- two inhibitors. Breeding a splash with black results in all blue birds. As for her breed, well that would be checked by comb type, leg color, egg color and body type. Blue Marans and Plymouth Rocks are a few breeds that come to mind in blue variety and have dual purpose body type like yours.

I think I've followed what you said but won't be able to work that all out myself, I haven't gotten into that kind of detailed knowledge of the different breeds and their particular characteristics. I can get some more detailed pics of their body colors and legs in the morning and post them up so you can make a more educated guess.


Edited by Kmack - 11/11/15 at 3:17am
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