bottom hen mean to chicks...what to do?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by hokankai, Jul 24, 2011.

  1. hokankai

    hokankai Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've read something similar to this before, but when I searched for it I couldn't find it.

    Anyway, I've got seven chicks in the coop with my seven hens. They were raised by a broody hen in the coop, and are now 11 weeks old. They're doing great despite the fact that mother has rejected them and they basically act like their own flock. The hen that was on the bottom of the pecking order has been very oppressive to the chicks. They're fast and smart so they stay out of the way, but at night it's resulting in babies roosting in the nests even though there's plenty of room on the roost. Lily (the bottom hen) will peck any chick at eye level near her, and will walk down the roost and attack them even if they're not close to her.

    What do I do about this annoying hen? I know she just is trying to move up the ladder, but it's causing poop to get in the nests and babies roosting all over the place and it's super annoying. Right now I have the nest boxes covered at night, but that just means the babies are roosting on the poop board and at risk of getting pooped on.
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Three years ago I had the same problem with one of my Brahmas. I had just merged my eight young pullets into the coop with the adults. Everyone was adjusting pretty well, except for Betty, who appointed herself hall monitor. She would station herself just inside the coop pop-hole and ambush the chicks as they tried to come inside to roost at night.

    I solved it by creating a "jail" for Betty at the far end of the coop and perch by partitioning it off with poultry netting. Each night at roosting time, I'd catch Betty and place her in her jail. She would have to sleep there as well. This lasted until the youngsters grew both in size and confidence.

    However, it forever changed Betty's personality. Three years later, she's still mistrustful of me, where before she was jailed, she was lovable and friendly.
     
  3. hokankai

    hokankai Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hmm, well I'd prefer to not have her be fearful of me. I've tried adding more roosting space but the annoying hen will occupy it and keep the teenagers away :\\

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  4. NellaBean

    NellaBean Graceland Farms

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    The lowest always do that.....it will get better. Once the newbies are there a while it will mostly resolve itself.
     
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Maybe azy's bird became distrustful because he/she would go out and catch her every evening???
    I think I'd pen your bird separately for a few days to see if the little ones will roost (if the others will allow it). It will probably work itself out in time, but like you, I don't want birds roosting on the dropping board and getting all pooped up. So maybe if the one girl is reintroduced in a few days, and the little ones are roosting, they will hold their own better??? [​IMG]
     
  6. SJensen

    SJensen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Reading the first post in this thread was like deja-vu because we just went through the exact same thing with our flock. The mother hen was the lowest in the pecking order, but was quite beloved by our family and was a great broody.

    When her chicks were about 7 weeks old, she started laying eggs again and rejected the chicks. She would guard territory and viciously peck on chicks who were trying to eat, dustbathe, or whatever. The chicks couldn't roost anywhere but the nest boxes, etc. etc.

    After a few weeks of this, we finally decided to separate the mother from the flock. The chicks integrated with the rest of the hens and no one's guarding territory. Last week we made the difficult decision to sell the mother hen. We had to get rid of 1 or 2 anyway to make way for the new pullets, but were planning on selling a lesser-loved hen. Anyhow, it does all seem to be working out fine, and the person who bought her seemed nice.

    So Hokankai I do hope you can resolve it without getting rid of the mother hen, but for us that ended up being a simple solution!
     
  7. hokankai

    hokankai Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yikes that sounds pretty bad. Ours get pecked but not viciously, just enough to get them away. They're able to eat and drink out of the same feeder and waterer...it's just when treats and roosting are involved is where issues occur.

    Right now I'm just trying to provide as much room as possible for them. We are 2 over our capacity right now, so I'm hoping once we rehome the roos it'll make it less stressful.

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