Bedtime Bully

The Chook

In the Brooder
7 Years
Jan 10, 2013
74
2
43
Australia
I have 5 hens and a rooster. They all know their pecking order and the get along well during the day. BUT, just before they all go to bed one of the higher hens, Atilla the Hen (Tilli), picks on a lower ranking hen, Mayvis.

I have watched it for two weeks now and every night Tilli chases Mayvis and pecks her, pulling feathers out. Mayvis is now going bald on her back from being bullied. Today it was so bad I actually picked up Tilli and carried her away whilst Mayvis went to bed. Sometimes the rooster comes in and stops it but usually he is in bed, I would like to take Tilli away and let her go when Mayvis is in bed and ready but I can't go near the hens without being attacked by the rooster (another problem, nothing works on him. I have tried everything). I have read that chooks bully because they are bored but they just have 2 at least roaming around the garden. How can I keep them entertained during the day when I am away? Their day pen is 30 metres all round so it is pretty big.

How can I stop the bullying? Mayvis has a bald patch on her back and getting worse. Mayvis can't outrun Tilli because she is a Light Sussex and Tilli is an Ancona who are very fast chooks.

Please help, I don't want Mayvis getting hurt, she is the only one being singled out and the other hens are fine. They are a year old in 2 months.
 
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Nutcase

Songster
7 Years
Dec 2, 2012
1,440
168
228
Australia
My Coop
My Coop
You may need to keep Tilli out of the run for a couple of days to let Mayvis get a break, and also to put Tilli in her place. Or you could hang a cabbage from a high branch or the coop ceiling. Drill a nail/hook/blunt screw through the cabbage and they will peck away at it. The swinging source of food can help to keep them busy.

P.S. There's an Aussie thread in the Where am I? forum. If you haven't seen it yet come say hi to all of us!
 

travis5292

In the Brooder
6 Years
May 5, 2013
50
2
31
I'm having the exact same problem, and was just getting ready to post about it when I read yours. The only difference is, I don't see any bullying going on until they are on the roost at night.
I have a red sexlink that just walks back and forth on the roost, and will peck at whoever is near her. But she really concentrates on a particular EE of mine. She will stretch her neck out, over other hens, just to peck at her. I got so fed up with it, I took the bully out of the coop, and put her on a roost in the run, so she slept outside that night.
I also put a short, new roost above the existing one thinking I'd give the sexlink more dance space, and an opportunity to show her dominance by being above all the others. I think it will work eventually, but there are others that have joined her on the new perch.
I might add too, she is the only one I have that has been laying eggs. She started a couple of weeks ago, so I'm wondering if because she is the only one laying, might that explain her dominance?
 

Nutcase

Songster
7 Years
Dec 2, 2012
1,440
168
228
Australia
My Coop
My Coop
I'm having the exact same problem, and was just getting ready to post about it when I read yours. The only difference is, I don't see any bullying going on until they are on the roost at night.
I have a red sexlink that just walks back and forth on the roost, and will peck at whoever is near her. But she really concentrates on a particular EE of mine. She will stretch her neck out, over other hens, just to peck at her. I got so fed up with it, I took the bully out of the coop, and put her on a roost in the run, so she slept outside that night.
I also put a short, new roost above the existing one thinking I'd give the sexlink more dance space, and an opportunity to show her dominance by being above all the others. I think it will work eventually, but there are others that have joined her on the new perch.
I might add too, she is the only one I have that has been laying eggs. She started a couple of weeks ago, so I'm wondering if because she is the only one laying, might that explain her dominance?
Red sex links are often known for bullying, unfortunately. They are often more aggressive/dominant than other breeds, like your EE. My sex links are no exception. It was a good idea to put another roost up. I doubt her behaviour is anything to do with laying, although that very fact may mean she is slightly older and therefore more assertive.

Good luck!
 

chickengeorgeto

Crowing
7 Years
Dec 25, 2012
8,047
4,218
431
Big Bend of the Tennessee River's Right Bank.
...Today it was so bad I actually picked up Tilli and carried her away whilst Mayvis went to bed. Sometimes the rooster comes in and stops it but usually he is in bed, I would like to take Tilli away and let her go when Mayvis is in bed and ready but I can't go near the hens without being attacked by the rooster ...
If you rudely catch hens in the presence of your rooster he soon gets the idea that you are either a rooster yourself and are out to steal his lady friends or else you are some kind of inept predator who is unable to finish the kill. Either one of these misconceptions on your rooster's part will result in him fighting you any time you go near his hens.
 
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chickengeorgeto

Crowing
7 Years
Dec 25, 2012
8,047
4,218
431
Big Bend of the Tennessee River's Right Bank.
The behavior you describe is so common among hens getting ready to go to bed that it is in fact universal. Every hen you own wants the best roost because in the millions and millions of years since chickens first evolved from the T-Rex dinosaur the hen with the best roost avoided the most nocturnal predators. Outside of penning your hens in separate pens 24-7, keeping only one hen is the only fool proof solution. They are chickens acting like chickens have always acted and nothing you or I can do will result in our chickens becoming priest and nuns. I know that you don't want to hear this but it is the truth.
 

chickengeorgeto

Crowing
7 Years
Dec 25, 2012
8,047
4,218
431
Big Bend of the Tennessee River's Right Bank.
The behavior you describe is so common among hens getting ready to go to bed that it is in fact universal. Every hen you own wants the best roost because in the millions and millions of years since chickens first evolved from the T-Rex dinosaur the hen with the best roost avoided the most nocturnal predators. Outside of confining your hens in separate pens 24-7, keeping only one hen is the only fool proof solution. They are chickens acting like chickens have always acted and nothing you or I can do will result in our chickens becoming priest and nuns. I realize that you would rather not hear this but it is the truth.
 

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