Broody chook being bullied

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Kaykay2205, Mar 22, 2019.

  1. I recently had one of my girls go broody however I quickly got onto it and broke the broodiness. Unfortunately the other girls (4 of them) seemed to pick up on the fact that she was not quite right and started pecking on her to the point that she retreated back into the nesting box. Watching her now I see that she is absolutely terrified of the other chickens even when they are not directly threatening her, she is still sitting on the box apart from when I pull her out, does anyone have any suggestions for breaking the bullying and broodiness cycle? Thanks
    Shadrach likes this.
  2. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

    Jul 31, 2018
    Catalonia, Spain
    My Coop
    Hello Kaykay2205.
    Welcome to BYC.
    Is she sitting in the box, or on the box?
    You will I expect get some advice that will tell you to separate her from the flock if there is what appears to be bullying going on. I don't separate unless that particular chicken is never going to rejoin the flock. Ime separation doesn't resolve the problem, it just postpones it.
    If you are confident that she is no longer broody then let them sort themselves out. We don't often really understand why chickens behave in a particular fashion. Broody hens here that have abandoned a nest through human intervention or for other reasons, particularly if the nest has been in the group coop sometimes get driven back to the nest by a rooster and often get 'bullied' by the more senior hens. Here, this stops after a while. On some occasions another hen will take over the nest and sit.
    Kaykay2205 and Saieerr like this.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC @Kaykay2205 ...sorry you're having troubles.
    Broody's can be picked on for 'acting different'.
    Did you separate her to break her broody...or how did you do it?
    How big a coop and run do you have for your birds?
    Dimensions and pics would help us help you.
    Does she have other places to 'hide'?

    Going to paste my integration notes as there are some tips there that might help your situation.

    Integration Basics:
    It's all about territory and resources(space/food/water).
    Existing birds will almost always attack new ones to defend their resources.
    Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best if mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

    The more space, the better.
    Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no copious blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down and beaten unmercilessly, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide 'out of line of sight'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds. Roosts, pallets or boards leaned up against walls or up on concrete blocks, old chairs tables, branches, logs, stumps out in the run can really help. Lots of diversion and places to 'hide' instead of bare wide open run.
  4. Thanks @Shadrach can you please clarify for me the difference between ‘in the nest’ or ‘on the nest’? I might try retreating for broodiness then seeing how she integrates. Thanks again
  5. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

    Jul 31, 2018
    Catalonia, Spain
    My Coop
    I don't know what sort of nest boxes you have. Look above.
    If she is in the nesting box and sitting then it's possible she is still broody.
    Is she sitting on any eggs? They will sometimes lay just one or two after having a clutch confiscated and sit on those.
    Sometimes they will just sit on an empty nest. I let them sit on an empty nest here for a couple of days if necessary. Usually they give up on their own and rejoin their group.
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    In your first post you said into the nesting box and later said on the box. That's a bit confusing.

    I've never had a broody picked on while off the nest but others say they have. Anything is possible. You're not having a rooster might make a difference. Do you know how she ranked in the pecking order before becoming broody? We all have different flocks and set-ups, each flock will have its own dynamics.

    Aart has asked good questions, that might help us understand better what is going on. How did you try to break her and for how long? If she is going back to the nest my guess is that she is still broody but I'm not there watching her so that is just a guess. If she is still broody try again to break her. That could solve the issue. Since you only have 5 hens your space may be tight. It's hard to know what is going on.

    If she is no longer broody and is not being hurt I'd suggest let them work it out. You may be going through an integration or the equivalent. If she is being injured and you can identify the ringleader I'd suggest separating the bully, not the bullied. Sometimes separating the bully so her place in the pecking order is disrupted can stop the bullying. Sometimes.
  7. Thanks @aart In response to the questions, to break the broodiness I put her in a smaller cage on top of some milk crates, though she was still inside the run. During the week I have had to leave them inside their run which is 36 square metres (387sqft) but at the weekends they get range of the entire garden, which is 1/3 of an acre (13068sqft). Yes there are places for her to get away.
    aart likes this.
  8. Thanks @Ridgerunner now hearing the difference between "on" or "in" the nest I'd probably say she's in the nest, so I will try treating the broodiness again and then try to get her back in. She's always been low down in the pecking order but I've never seen her quite so nervous around the other chickens as I did yesterday

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