Bertie is so grumpy!

LalaP

Songster
Aug 11, 2020
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Since I got a coop camera I’ve been witnessing a lot of pecking from my top hen, Bertie, towards her 3 flock mates and she’s landing her pecks and leaving scabby wounds on their combs. I’m pretty sure the scabs are from her and not pox or something else. The aggression happens about food even though there is always plenty of food and about roost space even though there is plenty of that too. In the evenings when they settle on their roosts the poor birds on either side of her get repeated blows for no apparent reason. Despite the attacks they always choose to crowd around her on the roost. My feeder is a 5 gallon bucket with 4 holes and pvc elbows so the lower birds can choose to eat from the far side of the feeder from Big Bad Bertie but they don’t. They prefer to share and take a beating. What the heck? Should I take any action? Can the small wounds to the combs be a problem? Like getting infected?
 

CluckerFamily

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You may want to try more than 1 feeder. This can help.
Having places to hide in the run will help also.
Do you have a light on in the coop? Chickens can't see in the dark, this would minimize the pecking on the roost.
 

aart

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Can the small wounds to the combs be a problem? Like getting infected?
Possible, but not not likely, just keep an eye on them for infection.

and about roost space even though there is plenty of that too.
Pics of coop and roosts would help immensely here.

In the evenings when they settle on their roosts the poor birds on either side of her get repeated blows for no apparent reason.
Well, the reason is, she's the queen.....or she could just be a biotch mean girl.

How old are the birds, in week or months, and how long have you had them?
 

LalaP

Songster
Aug 11, 2020
56
148
106
You may want to try more than 1 feeder. This can help.
Having places to hide in the run will help also.
Do you have a light on in the coop? Chickens can't see in the dark, this would minimize the pecking on the roost.
They do have the option to hide or eat away from her but they choose to eat at the same time as her and right next to her. I’m going to post photos below in reply to aart so you can see how my set up allows them lots of options for escape.

There’s no light in the coop but the pecking actually happens while they can still see. It happens as they are getting settled before it’s actually dark. Once it’s dark I don’t see any aggression.
 

LalaP

Songster
Aug 11, 2020
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Possible, but not not likely, just keep an eye on them for infection.

Pics of coop and roosts would help immensely here.

Well, the reason is, she's the queen.....or she could just be a biotch mean girl.

How old are the birds, in week or months, and how long have you had them?
They are 31 weeks and I’ve had since they were 2 days old. They are all super tame and sweet besides the new behavior from Bertie. Maybe you’re right.... maybe she’s a b**ch. that makes me sad.
My run is long and narrow 50ft x 5ft. Here are a series of photos starting at the end of the run working towards to coop and entrance.
B1FC6307-E128-48B6-B864-2CA2C270B6B7.jpeg

That old cold frame and plywood serve as hiding spots. They love the roosts in the back.
8AAFEA08-4E43-4E64-8572-17EF0C96539D.jpeg

This is the crummy old coop that is now unused except as a playhouse/hiding spot for them.
AE8BFCFF-BD1F-40D5-8D98-F14EE365D828.jpeg

824CDCF4-A1F4-4BB8-839B-29AFA05D1C9D.jpeg

Here’s my new coop 4 x 8. Pop out nest box behind curtains on left side.
D89BF4FE-8DA7-4829-935C-6487BD779A42.jpeg

Outside view of coop and entrance to run. Yes the whole roof is secured with hardware cloth.
8D8B0E5D-F8DB-473E-818D-B17963A7C515.jpeg
 

LalaP

Songster
Aug 11, 2020
56
148
106
Also here is a night time photo from my coop camera. It’s dark and a little hard to make out but you can see that if a bird wanted to get away from Bertie (she’s always in one of the 2 middle positions) they can hop down and walk over the the other side of the roost but they don’t. They just take their lumps.
CE22CA96-07FA-4AA3-9699-6E55D4B5F06B.jpeg
 

aart

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They are 31 weeks and I’ve had since they were 2 days old.
Are they all laying?

Oh, I remember that coop, glad you got a new one!

Has this been going on all along or just since the new coop?

As long as the picked on are not seriously injured or going to roost with empty crops,
I'd just let them work it out.
Is it non stop harassment or......?
The only real option might be to isolate the bully for a few days,
put her in that old smaller coop,
and see if that changes things.
Or get rid of the bully.

Lightened the pic to see, so thought I'd share it:
1606247858622.png
 

LalaP

Songster
Aug 11, 2020
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Are they all laying?

Oh, I remember that coop, glad you got a new one!

Has this been going on all along or just since the new coop?

As long as the picked on are not seriously injured or going to roost with empty crops,
I'd just let them work it out.
Is it non stop harassment or......?
The only real option might be to isolate the bully for a few days,
put her in that old smaller coop,
and see if that changes things.
Or get rid of the bully.

Lightened the pic to see, so thought I'd share it:
View attachment 2423729
Thank you for lightening the pic and sharing it. 3 out of 4 are laying and the 4th just started squatting. The squatter is low in the pecking order.
It’s hard to say when this behavior started because I’m only witnessing it through the coop cam which is new. When I’m around they are either out free ranging and busy or so focused on me (they all want to be cuddled... I’ve spoiled them) that there is very little aggression. In those times Bertie is bossy but not mean.
Well maybe I’ll try locking her up in the old coop. Would I make her sleep in there too? That really would be punishment! It’s depressing in there compared to the new coop. Haha!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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Nov 27, 2012
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I think you should just let them be.
Pecking is absolutely normal in a flock,
especially around feed and at roost time.
Things may change once that last bird starts laying,
onset of lay can be a rather contentious time with pecking order changes and hormones running high.

As long as....
As long as the picked on are not seriously injured or going to roost with empty crops
 

LalaP

Songster
Aug 11, 2020
56
148
106
I think you should just let them be.
Pecking is absolutely normal in a flock,
especially around feed and at roost time.
Things may change once that last bird starts laying,
onset of lay can be a rather contentious time with pecking order changes and hormones running high.

As long as....
Ok sounds good. I’ll stand by and let them work it out and keep an eye on the minor injuries. Thank you for your advice!
 

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