12 against 1

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Rustywreck, Jun 20, 2010.

  1. Rustywreck

    Rustywreck Songster

    I have 13 hens, all the same age and have lived together since they were one day old.

    The problem is with one of the girls, I affectionately call Ugly Step Sister. The other 12 pick on her badly. She can't do anything or go anywhere without being picked on. I'm afraid she is tormented so much that she is psychologically scarred. I understand there is a pecking order in their world, but this is going to a whole different extreme.

    She rarely comes out of the coop, and spends most of her time on a window sill where she can be somewhat alone. She rarely comes outside and when she does she will stand pretty much in one spot or walk very slowly. There is nothing apparent wrong with her physically - she can run when she needs to, and she is very much aware of what is going on around her. She doesn't really scratch at anything while outside, and only rarely will she peck at something. Her demeanor is noticeably different from the other twelve not because of anything physical, but likely emotional.

    Today, for example, the girls ran out of water. When I arrived home and let them out of the run she came out as well to get some water - after everyone else. As the others ran around doing their happy little chicken things, Ugly Step Sister walked slowly, and found a place to stand. Periodically, one of the other twelve would come after her and give her a thrashing - no apparent reason.

    After several hours of periodic abuse a group of four chased her back into the coop with Whiner (one of my smaller hens) leading the charge. Whiner frequently picks on Ugly Step Sister, which surprises me because Ugly Step Sister is big enough to kick Whiner's little chicken butt. Even Fat Chick (my biggest, most docile hen) takes her turn picking on her, which also surprised me because she is so mellow most of the time.

    Ugly Step Sister is so effected by all this that she does her "abused chicken scream" if I even touch her. At goodie time, she won't take the goodies even when I hold it right in front of her.

    The other twelve get along quite well with hardly a squabble between them. Even at goodie time they will race with each other to get a goodie, but don't attack each other.

    I'm really not sure what to do. I doubt that I can effective do any behavior modification to stop the others from picking on her. I can't practically give her a separate coop. I do have 19 turkey poults that will move out of my living room in a couple weeks. I'm thinking I might move her in with them, but as the turkeys get bigger they may treat her even worse. I've considered trying to give Ugly Step Sister away, but I'm concerned that the other twelve will just elect another girl to pick on. I like all of my hens and don't want to get rid of any of them, but at the same time I feel bad for the torment that she receives.

    Any suggestions? Please.

  2. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    Can you pull out the worst of the offenders and the head hens to shake up the pecking order, for a while. Course that may disrupt the entire flock a lot.

  3. KaterCheek

    KaterCheek In the Brooder

    Mar 5, 2010
    The poor thing.

    Are they crowded? Is 13 hens more than you usually have? If they're crowded, then removing her won't likely ease the situation--they'll just find someone else to pick on.

    Seems like the easy solution is to find someone with only one or two very gentle hens and ask them to take her.
  4. boell

    boell In the Brooder

    Oct 3, 2009
    I have a chicken just like that! She is almost blind, one eye she can,t see at all, very little out of the other. That is why she doesn't take the treats from you. Hold them on one side, then the other. Maybe that is her problem also. She is a real sweet hen. I got her a diaper and kept her in the house for a while. Then I got 25 baby silkies in their own coop and run. Moved her in with them, We call her the house mother, she is doing great. She knows her way around, once in while another chicken gets to her, but not often. I hope this helps you and her.


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