Aggressive RIR hen beating up docile EE - ugly photos

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by akhadley, Dec 20, 2014.

  1. akhadley

    akhadley Out Of The Brooder

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    My RIR hen Pearl is a fatty and also a bully. She wasn't always like this but over the past few months she has really begun to beat up on my EE hen Valentine. At first it was just pecking here and there and it has evolved into chasing my Valentine away from BOTH feeding dishes, Pearl won't allow Valentine to go into the coop to roost for the night until Pearl is either asleep, too lazy to peck her/chase her out, or I have to sit in front of the coop entrance to sort of intimidate Pearl and allow for Valentine to get up on the to part of the roost as far away from both Pearl and my RIR rooster, Juicy. During the day Valentine sits in the coop all day because I think the stress of Pearl is too much. When I come home for lunch or after work and let them out Valentine is almost always inside the coop, the other two are out in the run. So she doesn't really eat or drink during the day it seems - she usually drinks a lot once she gets out of the coop when I get home. Once Juicy had mounted Valentine and during their "time together" Pearl came up and viciously pecked Valentine right in the face/head. And finally, earlier this week, I picked up Valentine and noticed she had a few feathers missing and I lifted up her wing and holy crap she is missing a bunch of her feathers and her skin is clearly irritated from pecks (see photos), feathers being ripped out... ugh it made me so sad and upset. It looks painful and now as the feathers grow in I think its even more sensitive. I've been cleaning the area and rotating with antibiotic ointment and some salves to hopefully relieve the skin and help it heal quicker.

    I'm not sure what to do about Pearl. I only have 3 chickens and they were raised together by me since little hatchlings so it isn't like they don't know each other. Valentine used to actually be, not necessarily more dominant but she was more "queen bee" than Pearl. But now the tables are completely turned. Valentine free ranges by herself now usually. She is underweight, docile, and now naked under her wing. I want to keep her separated but we don't have the space for another run or coop... we thought about splitting the run in half so she could be "safe" from Pearl but I'm worried that when they range together Pearl will be more aggressive maybe? I've read that we need to remove Pearl and keep her separated for several days, maybe even weeks! But I live in a fourplex apartment and have limited space - I don't really have anywhere I can put her.

    We've been having a lot of tapeworm problems, which I suspect is part of Valentine's weight issue. So we've wormed them and I make sure that Valentine gets her share of food before putting her in the coop with the others - I'm hoping she will beef up and maybe be able to take care of herself in there but she's just so docile.

    Any suggestions? I love all my chickens, but Valentine is clearly my favorite. I'm worried about her. I don't want to get rid of Pearl either... not sure what to do to help the situation. Would building a new run with separated areas work? I think most of the beating up happens during the week days when I'm at work and they are all cooped up together for several hours. Maybe they're really bored... I try not to give too many treats (partly because Pearl is a fat fat and eats ALL of everything, definitely won't share with Valentine) but maybe I need to provide something else in the run? They have a large perch in the coop and the run, a mirror, and sometimes I hang lettuce or something by a string. They free range for a hour or so every morning and evening and are out most of the day during weekends. Anything else I can provide for daily entertainment when they aren't free ranging?

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  2. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you have room do add more hens? When you have 3 of any animal, one will always be the leader, the next one will be the Lt and usually the leaders go to buddy and the 3rd (Val) will be odd man out. If you added 3 more hens, than Pearl would spread the love around and you should have a more settled flock.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    I have a similar problem with bullies (plural) beating up on the two hens lowest in the pecking order. Whether you have three hens or eighteen like I have, there will always be one or two who get picked on.

    Most of the time, they learn to deal with it, but when the bullying is extreme and results in injuries, you really need to take steps to protect the victim. In my case, I have a small fenced off section in one corner of the run where I put these two victims during the day. They have their food and water in there, or otherwise, they would not be permitted to eat by the bullies.

    In the evening, I let them out and they go in and roost in the coop with the others. No matter how little space you have, I'm sure Valentine would be very content with just a minimum if it would mean she could relax and know she wasn't going to get beat up and prevented from eating.
     
  4. JensChickies

    JensChickies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    With my bully hen I had to resort to pinless peepers. I first tried separating her for a while and that did not work. So now she sports a nice pair of mean girl shades. They have really calmed her down. She doesn't peck as much and she has stopped chasing after my other hens. They work so far. I got them on eBay if you were interested in them. [​IMG]
     
  5. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    Pinless peepers really do work wonders!
     
  6. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Fantastic advice @Jenschickies.

    Is it wrong of me to laugh at the pic though? Something about it is very amusing to me. Mean Girl Shades.....lol [​IMG]

    Thanks for the giggle!

    - Krista
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. JensChickies

    JensChickies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 26, 2014

    Nope! Laugh away! We laugh all the time at her. Although I must admit I felt bad at first, but they have really toned down her attitude. Good luck with your mean girl.
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    What are they being fed?
     
  9. akhadley

    akhadley Out Of The Brooder

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    Not sure if you're responding to me... but I feed them layer feed, some scratch, and then provide treats every other day or so (meal worms, yogurt, fresh grated coconut, frozen melon, lettuce, etc)
     
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Question to you.

    Whenever feeding a range of feeds or feed items in a restricted manner, make certain the base diet is higher than the optimum with respect to protein content. Your layer feed is typically a low protein formulation and everything else with the exception of the mealworms is much lower and could dilute protein intake. Protein levels and nutrient levels in general being low can cause problems like you are observing.

    Consider upping protein by use of a grower diet or if money not a concern then hit them with more mealworms.
     

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