Aggressive barred rock hens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Shayj, Feb 4, 2017.

  1. Shayj

    Shayj New Egg

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    Feb 4, 2017
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    We are new chicken keepers with four hens that are 8 months old. We have two barred rocks and two buff Orpingtons. They have all been together from the beginning and were doing well until a few weeks ago. We were getting 2 - 4 eggs/day even in winter.
    Over the past few weeks, the barred rocks have been pecking the buffs on the feet and in one case in the head. They have drawn blood and we have had to remove the injured buffs to recover. The barred rocks have starting pecking at me and my husband which is also new behavior.
    The hens have a decent sized run, roughly 60 sq.ft. with a dust bath and a roosting ladder that we built for them. The coop is adequately sized with two nest boxes. Any ideas on how to stop this behavior? The buffs are very docile and friendly, I hate seeing them injured.
     
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    How big is the coop in feet by feet? Have they been out much this winter, or do they spend much of their time in the coop?
     
  3. Shayj

    Shayj New Egg

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    Feb 4, 2017
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    The coop is elevated,and roughly 4ft by 4ft not including the nest boxes (they stick out on one side of the coop). We let them out every day, usually, we open the coop about 7AM and they come running out. They stay out most of the day and return to the coop when it gets dark. The run is covered to keep it dry. We also put some heavy clear plastic around the walls of the run to keep the snow and wind out. They seemed content until the last few weeks, worried for the buffs who are really taking a beating.
     
  4. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    They can get bored easily. Try hanging some fruit, veggies or a cabbage for them to peck at. Add some pineneedles or something for them to dig through in the run.

    If your B-Rocks are like mine, they are food driven, so you may want to consider adding another feeding area and scatter any treats/scratch widely.

    A couple of other things, if you don't have them, place a perch or two in the run, this way the Buffs can get away if need be.

    Normally mine get on well, but I notice when one of my BR was molting, she turned a bit nasty. Any chance your girls are molting?
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    That's minimal space for 4 birds....works ok if/while they get along, not so much if/when they don't get along.
    Spring is coming, daylight length is increasing, hormones are flowing...this can increase aggression and change the pecking orders.

    I'd remove the bullies, put them in 'time out crates', and let the BO's stay in the coop/run to recover.
    Might have to do some mix and match chicken juggling with which birds are in time out and which are in coop/run.
    You're trying to break a habit and changing up the 'territories' can really help.

    When the BR's peck you, PECK them back!
    With fingertips, right on the head or where ever you can get them...follow up a few steps so they know you mean business.
    Be fast and firm. Not firm enough to hurt them but firm enough to let them know you mean business.
    They'll squawk and run away.
    This is what dominant chickens do...be the 'head hen'.
    If a few applications of that doesn't work, hold the bird down on the ground with your hand on it's back until the birds submits, add a few head pecks too.
    Again fast and firm.

    ETA: are you hand feeding? Might want to stop that for awhile.
    Do you free range at all?
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
  6. Shayj

    Shayj New Egg

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    Feb 4, 2017
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    I don't think that they are molting, but I haven't been through that yet. Their feathers seem to be intact. We added a second perch in the run as you suggested and my husband rigged up a place to hang some goodies for them. Thanks for the advice![​IMG]
     
  7. Shayj

    Shayj New Egg

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    Feb 4, 2017
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    We don't free range due to predators and our suburban location. My neighbors have been great, but I don't want to push it. We have plans for a bigger coop, we got a kit coop to start.
    We're using the peck them back technique and it seems to be working. After further observation, it seems to be primarily one barred rock that is the big bully. She will be getting time out of the coop as you suggested. Thanks for the advice![​IMG]
     
  8. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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