aggressive barred rocks?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Pied Piper, Sep 14, 2014.

  1. Pied Piper

    Pied Piper Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 10, 2013
    I have four 2 1/2 year old hens and added four fourteen week pullets. One of the white rock hens has decided she's mom and cares for the younger girls. Unfortunately, the two barred rock pullets seem to have formed a bond with "mom" that excludes the two orpingtons. One in particular is "low man" Her tail head is constantly being pecked at, and today when I came home she's pretty bloody. I'm fairly sure I know which Barred rock is the worst. What would be my best move? I'm afraid if it continues, the other hens will see the blood and start pecking too. This poor girl has few tail feathers and none on her back. I know pulling her out for nursing will put her through the wringer again when re-introduced. So now what?
    I was told Barred Rocks were friendly and docile, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Any help would be appreciated!
     
  2. Cowgirl71

    Cowgirl71 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 5, 2010
    Missouri Ozarks
    Adding new, younger birds to an established flock rarely goes smoothly. In my flock this year, the Barred Rocks and Buff Orps were relatively nice to the newcomers but the Australorps were very mean. Nobody got bloody though.

    One thing I've heard of is if a hen is being over-mated you can put a duct tape bandage on her back and by the time it falls off her back is all healed and feathered in. I've never done it, and I know it's not pretty to look at, but this could be an option. How big is your coop/run? Chickens should have a minimum of 10 square feet per bird. Also, one trick is to hang a head of cabbage fromt the ceiling, just out of their reach. The hens will be so occupied with jumping up for bites of cabbage that they'll mostly leave the pullets alone. You can also add objects so that the younger birds can hide if they need to, or make an obstacle course that the hen chasing has to dodge through, and so will keep her from doing it as much or for as long.

    In summary, you do need to either somehow bandage/cover up the bloody tail head, or separate the pullet. One thing that works really well, for in the future, is to keep the hens and pullets on opposite sides of a mesh fence for several days. They can do a lot of the quibbling/figureing out the pecking order with the pullets safely behind the fence. It will then go smoother when you combine them. So if you do separate out the bloody pullet for some TLC I'd recommend keeping her in or next to the coop/run, with mesh between her and the hens, so that when you do put her back in it will go smoother.
     
  3. Pied Piper

    Pied Piper Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 10, 2013
    Thanks for your reply Cowgirl. My coop itself is 30 square feet, but their run is about 150 square feet plus they are free range almost every afternoon when I'm home. The problem is not the older hens picking on the younger ones, but the barred rocks picking on the same age Orpington pullets. I like the idea of putting something on the Orpington's back to shield her. Her tail feathers are just coming in and I think these blood feathers are breaking off. I cleaned her up last night and there don't seem to be any wounds, just broken feathers. I know new feathers bleed a lot if they are broken as they grow.
    Do you think putting tape on her tailhead will impede the ability of the feathers to grow?
    I will try the obstacle course and cabbage idea. It makes sense that keeping them busy will decrease nastiness. I see the aggressiveness even as they walk near each other, The barred rock just goes after the orpington because she's there.
     
  4. Cowgirl71

    Cowgirl71 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 5, 2010
    Missouri Ozarks
    Ah, okay, I thought the hens were pecking on a pullet.


    I'm not sure, I've never done it. But there's an old thread here on BYC where people were talking about how well the duct tape works, you might try looking for it and reading it, and if they don't address your question in the thread then you could ask one of the duct tape experts their opinion via PM.
     

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