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Pecking order query

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
So I have three hens, two of them came together after my first hen. My first hen is definitely top hen but I can't work out if there is any pecking order below that. So the two that came together never go for each other, One of these hens gets completely left alone it would appear, by the top hen. The other one seems to be getting her tail feathers pulled out. From that I thought the one getting her tail feathers pulled out was the bottom of the pecking order, however she will go and eat beside the top hen sooner than her buddy. She seems very wary of me and stays away from top hen where ever possible which makes me wonder if she is at the very nervy bottom hen?
Lastly one of these two hens is not laying at all I think, since having all three hens I have only collected three eggs twice since August!
I'm trying to work out which one isn't laying and guess I might need to do some more invasive investigation (Check out their butts) .
They seem to get along most of the time and I only seem to find the feathers in the coop but I'm wondering if there is stress which is causing one of them not to lay at all? I have enough space and to stay away from the top hen in the coop they are on different roosts, so I think if anything is happening in there it's in the morning while I wait to get out.
Any advice on the pecking order, tail feather pulling or the laying will be greatly received. Thanks!
Edited by pepparaaraa - 12/3/15 at 11:40pm
post #2 of 7
The two bottom hens are also friends so there might not be a clear cut division between them, for the top hen it doesn't matter they are both beneath her and she will peck both.

How old are your hens, are they perhaps molting, and do you see the one getting it's tail feathers pulled out by the others, you need to first figure out how the feathers are being lost.

As far as not laying, if they are molting they will quit laying, otherwise not every hen lays daily or constantly. The indication of laying without getting personal is to look at the size and redness of their combs and wattle, when they are out of lay they shrink and become a pale plnk, they then enlarge and get redder as they start laying again.
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
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Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Well she only really went for the one that is losing tail feathers so I assumed bottom hen but maybe she was seen as the only challenge. She never fought back though and was submissive enough so I haven't seen any pecking at all during the day for ages. But the feathers are only in the coop so I thought that maybe she was getting at her while they were waiting to get out in the mornings. Guess I'll have to go down earlier.
The one that's losing her feathers has a huge red comb, redder than top hen who lays most days. Out of the other 2 I get 1 egg every other day which I took as normal for 1 bird but thought 1 mustn't be laying.
The quiet one has a small pink comb at the moment now you mention it though.
So this is their first winter (all of them) so I thought they didn't moult yet? What's the order for moulting? Would be a bad time with the coldest weather coming!
post #4 of 7
All birds older than a year will molt in the fall, so depends on their ages, and how many eggs they lay depends on breeds and breeding behind them.
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
They aren't a year yet, top hen is the oldest and hatched may this year
post #6 of 7

You said it yourself, you need to go down to the run and observe your little flock to see what is going on with them. We can only guess, while you are in a position to actually see the behavior when it takes place.

 

From my experience, tail feather pulling usually happens when a senior hen gets miffed at a junior hen and chases after her, yanking out tail feathers to drive home the point.

 

If this is only happening in the coop, then the picker may be liberating tail feathers as the victim roosts. You need to observe them right at roosting time and early before it gets light enough for them to leave the coop. Set your alarm and get there for the early show!

 

Then isolating the culprit may be the best way to interrupt this behavior. Or you can try pinless peepers to inhibit the vision of the hen who has this bad habit.

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Had to look up the peepers and apparently illegal in the UK on welfare grounds. But reviews say they work. Anyway, I have been down early and don't see any scuffles but maybe they hear me coming. My back door is noisy and then I have to go into the run where the coop is so lots of opportunity to stop. Will try again with more creeping and see if I can catch anything.
But they seem okay in the day so it's a shame that she is getting them pulled out in the coop.
Edited by pepparaaraa - 12/3/15 at 11:36pm
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