Am I just naive or in denial ???????

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by DDRanch, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. DDRanch

    DDRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 15, 2008
    California
    To think that my flock can get along again and nobody will be harassed, chased or pecked? Some in my flock are getting nasty. I have 4 five year olds and 14 one year olds.

    It is just in the last month that I am having problems with 2 of my girls (obviously at the bottom of the pecking order) being harassed and feather, head and chest picked on by the same peers they grew up with. Shouldn't they have worked this all out when they were small?

    Tell me straight....am I naive to think peace can be restored, or is this just the way it has to be? So far no one has been bloodied.

    Anne
     
  2. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    May 8, 2007
    Wisconsin
    What breed are the ones being picked on and what breed are the aggressors? A lot of people have mixed flocks of different breeds, but they don't always work, especially as the chickens mature. Some breeds are more docile and some are much more aggressive. Some chickens really don't like other chickens that look different, although most could care less.

    Sometimes, it's just that particular individuals are a problem. Chickens that are very aggressive mixed with chickens that are very passive is always trouble.

    There are different things you can do to try to help the situation, but sometimes, somebody just has to go. More space to get away from bullies and places to hide helps. More activities to keep chickens occupied helps. If they have anything physical stressing them, like biting parasites or if it's too hot, that can make them more cranky. It's always good to look at their diet and make sure they are getting enough protein and salt, as deficiencies can cause picking. This shouldn't be a problem with a commercial feed, but some people are mixing their own or adding a lot of other foods. Adding more feeders and waterers, so there isn't a territorial thing going over eating and drinking helps. I think last year one of the forum members used one of those rings on an aggressive chicken, that prevents the chicken from closing it's beak all the way. She could still drink and scoop up food, but couldn't bite anyone. I would probably try that after the other things, myself.

    How long ago did you combine these age groups and how long has this been going on? Have there been any other changes for this group, having to do with either their care or any losses?
     
  3. DDRanch

    DDRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 15, 2008
    California
    Thank you for your response. One Delaware and one BO are the ones being picked on. The BO won't leave the roost in the coop unless I am out there. When she gets too far from the coop, the wyandottes surround her. The Delaware although she looks terrible, seems to hold her own but has become reclusive. The silver and gold wyandottes are the thugs, and there are 7 of them, the silvers being the instigators from what I have seen.

    I feed organic 20% layer crumbles, scratch as treat, and lots of greens from my garden and some fruit from the orchard. Food is always out in the coop and in the outdoor pen, along with 3 waterers. They free range anywhere from 4-6 hours a day. Oyster shell available in 2 spots.

    Salt? Where would they get salt and how would I provide it?

    I combined them some 6 months ago after they lived side by side for 3 months. It's the younger ones,just turned a year old that are the problem.

    Yes, there have been some changes....a lot of smoke from the fires, some extremely hot days and the loss of one of my older hens about a month ago. This bullying has been going on with the Delaware for some 2 months and with the buff, only about a month.

    Are wyandottes known to be more agressive?
     
  4. Psittizen Shikkin

    Psittizen Shikkin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oroville, California
    People always say BO's are docile and usually picked on but I have a young BO roo that picks on all of my RIR pullets and hens. I was thinking about keeping him as he's the 2nd nicest looking roo out of the bunch(6 roos outta 6 purchased [​IMG]) but with that ornery streak, he'll probably end up as dinner very soon.
     
  5. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    They would be getting salt from their crumbles. Since you are giving them a prepared feed, it should have what they need in it.

    I have heard that some wyandottes are more aggressive. Not all. Many are not. I think it just depends on the strain. They are a good breed for my climate, but since they've been the aggressors in a few flocks I've known of with pecking problems, I've stayed away from them. This is mainly because some of my most favorite breeds, that I will always want to keep, have very docile and gentle temperaments. I really have a thing for Dorkings and Faverolles, although I also love Buff Orpingtons, partridge rocks and Australorps. Not exactly the bad boys (Or girls!) of the chicken world. It is their very sweetness that melts my heart, but it does make them more of a target.

    When you lost your older hen a month ago, it disrupted the flock's pecking order. Any time you add or subtract birds to the flock, it affects the pecking order. It's interesting that the problem with the buff Orpington getting picked on, started around the same time you lost your older hen. What you are describing with her sounds kind of bad. I can understand why you posted, especially since it's been going on for a month. I would keep a close eye on her for the moment, to make sure it doesn't escalate to more serious damage. If it does, please remove her right away, to protect her.

    I'm not sure why this started the month before you lost your older hen, but it does sound like it might be getting worse, instead of better. How do you think it's been going, compared to two weeks ago? Do you think it's about the same or getting worse?

    I'd really be interested in what others think about this situation.
     
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Quote:I would say both....naive and in denial! My hens establish a new pecking order, it seems, every week. I guess that's why we have expressions like....pecking order, rule the roost, henpecked, cock of the walk, fussy as an old hen, etc. [​IMG]
     
  7. CarlaRiggs

    CarlaRiggs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Another trick you may try is to use a squirt gun on the aggressors. This will entail more of your time, spending it with the flock. :| If the hens know that you are the 'alpha female', then it will be easier to establish some order.
    A drastic measure would be to curtail the feeding times. Bring out the crumbles and give it first to the Buff and Deleware. When the two girls are through eating, let the others come feed. If you see any bullying, let them have it with the squirt gun, give a loud bark "NO!", or use your foot to separate the hens.
    You want to establish a negative Pavlovian response. [​IMG]

    Just a thought..... crumbles are easier to eat than mash, so take less time. If your hens spend more time eating, then they may not have as much time to bully.

    Good luck with it all! Let us know how things go.

    Carla
     
  8. Hangin Wit My Peeps

    Hangin Wit My Peeps AutumnBreezeChickens.com

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    Birnamwood, Wisconsin
    I just added my three little ones (2 australorps and one BO) and my silver laced wyandotte is one of the nicer ones of the bunch. My cochins are very sweet to them too... The wyandotte does peck a little at them but nothing like the others are doing. It's been two days, I do put them in a kennel at night for their safety until I can see that they are all getting along a little more! My sex link is the meanie of the bunch...EE right behind her. I hope yours do better in time! I know it's so hard watching others getting picked on!

    Carla! GReat idea with the squirt gun! I'm going to try that one!
     
  9. DDRanch

    DDRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 15, 2008
    California
    Thank you all for responses. I would say the situation is about the same as 2 weeks ago perhaps a bit worse. I have been feeding the buff separately and have additional food and water where she roosts during the day. I make sure she gets her own stock of vegs, greens and fruit.

    I will keep a close watch on her and will definitely remove her should this escalate. Because they free range a good deal during the day when I am home, there is lots of room to stay away from the thugs. As I mentioned, no blood yet, not sure why, since her little head is now featherless on top.

    I like the idea of a squirt gun, and will try that also. Good idea Carla.
    Beekissed, I am sure you are right.
     
  10. Cetawin

    Cetawin Chicken Beader

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    NW Kentucky
    My SLW gets picked on my the head honcho...a light brahma. I spent about an hour with a broom stick in my hand and each stime Light Brahma went after SLW I shook the stick at the Brahma...she got the idea and has left SLW alone. My flocks is mixed... I have 1 light brahma, 1 NHR, 1 SLW, 1 Ameraucana and 2 BA's in that group...they are about to get 5 BAs added to the group so we will see how that goes next month.
     

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