I recently just picked up three new young hens (two 9 week old and a 5 week old) from a heritage breeder.
I've noticed the two older girls can be quite aggresive, pecking at the other one when there is food involved. Dot, the 5 week old Barred Rock is quite submissive and will let out a cackle before trying to run away. They aren't always horrible to her, they snuggle at night time and this morning when I separated them they sat close to the fence on one side and Dot sat close to the fence on her side so they were nearer each other.
My question is whether some in run separation until Dot is a little bigger to defend herself will help to curb the problem, is it normal for slightly older birds to establish a hierarchy and is the behaviour okay to let go until they do so? I just don't want Dot to end up hurt.