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Bad Behavior or Natural?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by NathanNeighbour, Mar 12, 2015.

  1. NathanNeighbour

    NathanNeighbour Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 18, 2015
    Pomona, CA
    I have read a million threads about introducing a new hen to the flock. Here's my issue...

    I have two red sex links and was gifted a slightly younger rhode island red. She's been quarantined and all, and I introduced her to the coop a few nights ago. Poor girl is being pecked on SO bad by the other two. I have two questions...

    1. How do you distinguish between bullying and natural process?

    2. I want to kennel the bully older hen, but she is probably going to start laying eggs in the next day or two, and don't want to interfere with that!

    They free range during the day on opposite sides of the yard... but I want them to integrate. This morning I found both of them pecking at the new girl in the corner. I was sure she was dead. No blood... just laying there lifeless until I came and she popped back up to life. HELP!
     
  2. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 4, 2014
    Victoria, Australia.
    I think it's time to intervene. Pecking order confrontations are usually a bit of chest bumping, a few quick pecks, a mad chase around the yard and it's over until next time. Consolidated joint bullying is not tolerable behaviour, and they could really hurt your girl.

    If it were me, I'd separate them with some kind of wire fence. Let them be able to see and hear each other for at least a couple of weeks in safety before removing the fence and supervising their integration in short visits. Gradually they should be able to spend more and more time together until such time that they have adjusted to her being 'one of them'.

    Integrating one hen is always hard. It's going to be a very gradual process I'm afraid.

    Good luck!

    - Krista
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Colorado Rockies
    What you have going on is a little of both - normal pecking order conflict/ordering and bullying. It's normal, although brutal sometimes.

    A more popular method of integrating is to keep the new chicken segregated but within sight of the flock to get them all familiar with each other without needing to engage in physical sparring.

    Do this immediately or else you risk having the bullying behavior reinforced as habit and it could then go on indefinitely.

    Another approach if the above doesn't work would be to watch carefully to determine which of the two original hens is the bully-ring leader and segregate her out of sight of the other original hen and the newcomer. This will alter the pecking order in favor of the newcomer.

    A common cause of continued aggression such as this is crowding. Make sure you have at least 30 square feet ( for three chickens) in the run or daytime quarters with objects for a victim to retreat on top of, such as a high perch, or behind, such as old furniture or a tree stump. The fact that your victim is easily cornered indicates there may be no safety outlets in your run.
     
  4. NathanNeighbour

    NathanNeighbour Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 18, 2015
    Pomona, CA
    I have a small dog crate. Probably 24" x 36". Can I keep the bully chicken in there for a few days with food and water?
     
  5. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 4, 2014
    Victoria, Australia.
    That sounds reasonable to me.

    Make sure that her water container is large enough that she can't tip it over by standing on the rim.

    - Krista
     
  6. NathanNeighbour

    NathanNeighbour Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 18, 2015
    Pomona, CA
    Good thought! It should be, but I will make sure.
     
  7. NathanNeighbour

    NathanNeighbour Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 18, 2015
    Pomona, CA
    How long should she be crated
     
  8. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Colorado Rockies
    Segregating a bully usually is done for a week. You can try it for half that length of time and put the bully back with the other two and see what happens. If the bully's rank has been altered what should take place is the other two will give her a few pecks, she may try to get in a few licks, but it should be over with in a minute. Then peace should reign. If that doesn't happen, you need to crate her up for a longer period.
     

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