We've kept hens for a few years, and never had any problems. We've only ever had a maximum of three birds, however, and now we've moved to a new house with more room, decided to get some more.
We have one hen that we've had for a couple of years, and her friend sadly passed away a couple of weeks back, so we went and got 3 new birds, all aged around 16 weeks. They all got on really well, and are always friendly to us and each other.
Now we've got another 6 birds - one aged around 20 weeks, the other 5 around 16 weeks. There's a bit of chasing and pecking as you'd expect as the new pecking order is established (the 4 we already had are definitely stamping their authority!). But there's one of the new girls - the smallest, a (we think a Black Rock, though the guy we got them from said it was a French Marron Cuivree) who is really being pecked badly by the others.
They're all sharing a pen of around 17 metres (55 feet) by around 8 meters (26 feet). There are two hen houses - the small one that the original 4 were sharing and a larger one for up to 12 birds that the new ones went in last night. There's plenty of shrubs and small trees and leaves for interest / bug-hunting.
For the moment, we've put the little one in the plastic crate that we use for transporting animals (it's big enough for a large dog) so that she can see out, and has wood shavings and food and drink, but is safe from the others, but I'm concerned about what happens next week when we go to work.
Anyone any ideas about the best way to handle this? Or anyone any experience of encouraging girls to get along better?
Thanks a lot