Attacking at the nest boxes

jolenesdad

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Ive got 4 older layers and 9 new layers. Most all the new layers are laying within the last two weeks. I’ve got six nest boxes. They use two or three of them and also have picked a spot in the coop in the shavings underneath a feeding trough to lay.

I have one new layer that is full on attacking another new layer in the nest boxes. Blood everywhere, and to the point I have to interfere. (A leghorn is attacking an OE. They’re both all white and same size.)

The OE getting attacked has an entirely bloodied head. None of the other chickens, including the attacker leghorn, continue to bother her after the initial morning attacks. I know who is doing it only because you can see the other chickens blood on her.

Since the other chickens don’t continue to attack, I feel like she can stay put to heal. Since she is so low on the totem, I’m afraid to take her out and put her back.

Should I remove the attacker and try and put her back once she is more used to laying to see if it’s just an issue with that? How long can I keep a chicken solo before she goes crazy? Is this common as they’re warming up the egg factory, or is this more likely an aggressive trait appearing in this specific leghorn and I should cull her from the flock?
 

azygous

Crossing the Road
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Not only is the Leghorn a bully, but the OE is a victim. You need to address both issues. This is such a common problem, I wrote an article to help folks deal with it. https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/chicken-bully-chicken-victim-a-two-sided-issue.73923/

Removing the victim is not a good idea. It's going to be even harder on her going back to the flock. Have you washed the blood off her head? You will probably find the injury is limited to the comb. After washing her head, apply Blu-kote to any injuries so they aren't an attraction to other chickens.

Many of us have a safe pen, sometimes called "chicken jail" for isolating a victim or a bully. I highly recommend finding a corner of your run to put something up. This is where the victim will remain during the day until she recovers her will to stand up for herself. You can try putting a crate in the safe pen for her to lay her egg. Remaining with the flock in this manner makes it unnecessary for a chicken to compete for re-entry to the flock. I've found that this method works far better than removing the bully from the flock. (You may want to cull or rehome, though, if this Leghorn is bullying a lot of individuals. )

One way to help resolve the mobbing of just a few favorite nests is to pick up the hens that are trying to compete for a nest and place them in unoccupied nests. I'd say more than half the time this works to cut down on the congestion. I had to do this this very morning, as a matter of fact.
 

jolenesdad

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Thank you I have a large crate I’ll try that first while she heals and monitor the leghorn if she picks another victim.

Can I use that silver Alu-spray? I’ve got it on hand for my large animals and love it.

Can she stay in the safe pen 24/7, or do I need to let her out to roost and grab her early?
 

azygous

Crossing the Road
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The Blu-kote is handy for camouflaging the wound with gentian violet in addition to protecting against bacteria and fungus. Chickens are far less likely to peck at purple wounds.

You will need to place the victim in the safe area in the morning, no need to race right out, though, unless the bully likes to start early. Then you will need to release her in the evening so she can go roost.

You will know she's no longer in need of protective custody when you see her standing up for herself with the Leghorn. It can take as little as two days or as long as three weeks. Keep trying her with the flock every so often to see how she's coming along.
 

aart

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Since the other chickens don’t continue to attack, I feel like she can stay put to heal.
Yes, I'd leave her be.
Probably too late for my advice...but for the future.
Cut combs can produce a copious amount of blood, it's extremely alarming, but it usually stops pretty quickly.
Clean her a up a bit (maybe), but if no one is bothering her separating her could cause more problems..so could putting anything on the wounded comb. I've found blukote to attract more pecking attention...plus it makes a godawfulmess.
 

jolenesdad

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Thanks @aart. I left her be, but separated the bully for this morning. She can climb back up the pecking order easily, and I feel like the status quo serves me best whenever possible for everyone else.

This victim is my least tame bird, I’d have to CATCH her to get her and the entire process would be more stress on her. She is JUST starting to come around as she starts to lay, and I really didn’t want to mess with that. It’s clear it’s from the comb, and, I’m not so partial to the bully so it may be time to go.
 

aart

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Things can get crazy when pullets come into lay....
....all those raging hormones, plus laying status can change pecking order status.
Hopefully things calm down soon for you.
 

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