Alpha Hen in flock of two??

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Linda V, Jul 11, 2016.

  1. Linda V

    Linda V Chillin' With My Peeps

    Good morning, everyone! I'm a "newbie" here, so I'll make this as short as possible!

    This is about our "flock of two" with an alpha hen.

    All the articles I've read on line (to date) have only talked about the "alpha" hen in a flock. What I need to know is - is it normal to have an alpha in a flock of two hens?

    We have no plans to add to the coop or have a rooster.

    Two days ago we picked up two "Dominique" laying hens from a chicken farm and they both are
    roosting & sleeping over night just fine and one laid an egg for us the 2nd day! :) Have no idea which one, however...lol!


    We have a fantastic coop for them with PVC feeder tube for feed & water outside and a small PVC pipe as a watering device in the coop for overnight use. They are using all just great.

    However, I'm not thrilled about this bullying and domination behavior from the older, and slightly larger hen.

    The submissive hen is "Henrietta"
    The dominating hen is "Alpha Barbie" (for obvious reasons)


    Any advice on what to do to get AB to stop being such a control freak over the other one or will they work things out on their own.

    Thanks everyone!

    Linda V
    Creedmoor, NC
    7/11/16
     
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Hi Linda and welcome to BYC. It may take a while before the bullying stops, but having a couple of feeding stations could help reduce food based aggression. Having a good amount of space in your run (10 sqft per chicken) could also affect bullying. Not sure what your set up is like, but worth bearing in mind.

    Ct
     
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  3. Linda V

    Linda V Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks, CT!

    We have a coop with a 7-foot run under the "housing/nesting" section with a ladder for them to go up & "inside" but I did notice that the alpha hen likes to have her own "section" of the run, which leaves the other hen with hers - both equally the same in size!

    We have a large, fenced in (5' privacy) yard, but because cats can climb trees and jump down into our yard and worse than that...we have hawks in our area all the time...so free roaming is not an option.

    Eventually we do want to open the end of the coop (currently screwed shut) and add another 10'feet of fencing but we have to cover it with hardware cloth or chicken wire (ugh) to keep the hawks away!

    Forgot to mention this too....we made our coop into a CHICKEN TRACTOR so they will not be staying in the same spot for more than 1 week at a time! Right now, however, they are enjoying the shady area in front of the fence on a thick layer of pine straw. They seem to love scratching and eating bugs!

    Thanks so much, CT....I hope to learn more as I read articles about Dominique hens and watch videos too! :)

    Linda V in NC, USA!
     
  4. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    You are most welcome, Linda.

    You'll find lots of info in the Learning Centre https://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/1/Learning_Center, and if you have a specific topic in mind, just type it in the search box - there's a wealth of information on past and present threads. 

    All the best
    CT
     
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  5. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    What has probably happening is you choose two hens that didn't necessarily hang out together in their original flock, so now they have to establish themselves in a flock of two. Chickens will often form bonds when younger with certain members and they become friends with some and stay away from others.

    CTKen has given you good information, it will take some time for them to adjust and to get used to being together. There's nothing to worry about unless they are drawing blood, some fighting is normal but cornering and pecking would be a problem.
     
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  6. Linda V

    Linda V Chillin' With My Peeps

    That's good to know! At least now we have hope that eventually they will learn to become "friends" as you put it! We bought them from a chicken farm 25 miles from our home in NC, but did not get to pick out the hens ourselves. Guess we got two that were strangers. :(

    The "alpha" female is okay most of the time, but it seems I have to intervene now and then to get her to let the submissive one to eat & drink.

    Last night the alpha made the sub wait for about 20 mins before she could enter the roosting/nesting area. I felt really sorry for her.

    No real "fighting" or blood, but it gives us hope to know this may be the reason WHY they are not acting very "sisterly" towards us.

    I've go sooo much to learn about them! They are Dominique Hens so they are very special to us! I'm going to re-name the alpha hen, but that will take
    some research.


    Will let you know if this situation changes any!

    Thanks so much, Oldhenlikesdogs (lol!)

    Linda V in NC
    7/11/16



     
  7. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    You are welcome, hopefully in a few weeks to a couple of months they will be inseparable and forget that they didn't know each other. Chicken behavior is very complex with certain social rules that they need to know and follow, they are an interesting species that I enjoy watching, I hope you find them as fun and addictive as many folks have.

    I'm sure some of your pushy hens behavior is from insecurity and confusion as to how they have found themselves in a new situation and a new home, when unsure fall back to rules and instincts, which I think occurs in all species including humans.
     
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  8. Linda V

    Linda V Chillin' With My Peeps

    That really does make sense! I am beginning to think that poultry is not as "dumb" as we have been led to believe! A lot of people do not even know that pigs are smarter than dogs too!

    As an animal lover - it's hard to watch one being picked on, but we will continue to do all we can to make their transition from the farm to a smaller, quiet and more private setting. We also want to increase their pen size from 7-feet to an additional 10-15-feet but they are in a "tractor" so they would only use the larger run when we were away for a few days AND it must be secured at the bottom edges (anti-digging), the sides from coons, possoms and stray cats, and the top from raptors!

    It's a shame they can't free roam during the day since I'm home all day, but their are hawks in the area and I can't control the stray cats - even tho they are few and far between - it only takes one. :(

    Thanks again for giving us light at the end of the tunnel....lol!

    Linda V in NC
     
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  9. Gray Farms

    Gray Farms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Even in a flock of two there will always be a dominant hen, a matriarch so to speak. She'll be top of the pecking order, even over the rooster. Subordinates learn their place quickly and learn to stay out of her way. Moving them has disrupted this hierarchy.
     
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  10. Linda V

    Linda V Chillin' With My Peeps

    That's really good to know....I just couldn't believe how nice they were the first day compared to now. However, the alpha hen (now called "Abigail") has just laid her second egg! They have settled down a lot today considering they are new to us & this new world they entered last Sat. morning and they seem to know me by just the sound of my voice! I go out there several times a day just to "chat" with them and see how they're doing & to give them a few dried meal worms. We are going to give them other "treats" as we have time to buy them & read up on them. That's a long list! We also read that fermented feed is much better for laying hens too so we will try a small batch of that to see how it goes. Who would have thunk it, eh? lol!

    Thanks for helping me out....I have so much yet to learn!

    Linda V in NC :)
     

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