Bullied chicken forced to sleep in the cold

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by eggcelent21, Jan 6, 2015.

  1. eggcelent21

    eggcelent21 Hatching

    Jan 6, 2015
    We have a flock of six chickens who are all 1.5 years old. One chicken—a small and timid barred rock with a bad claw—has always been at the bottom of the flock's pecking order. We've always kept a close eye on her, and the bullying never resulted in a bloody injury, so we did not intervene.

    We are not sure who is the main bully. One chicken has always been fierce and early on she was definitely high on the social ladder, but recently I have noticed another chicken has been the main one to go after the barred rock when she tried to get some food.

    Recently, it has appeared that the bullying has escalated. She has been excluded from their perch at night (sleeping in he nesting box while the others perch in the coop) and would always be up in the coop when we went to check on them. When she hears us come in, she peaks her head out and timidly thinks about joining the other chickens in the run because we were there to protect her.

    Early this cold morning when I went to check on them, I found her at the bottom of their ramp into the run. She had spent the night out in the cold! Worried about her well-being and warmth, we hastily decided to bring her into our basement to keep her warm.

    It's going to be very cold (below zero to low teens) for the rest of the week, and we are worried and unsure about what to do next. Should we keep her in for a few days? Try to isolate the bully or bullies for a few days? Try to reintegrate her into the flock? Could she be broody?

    Any help or thoughts would be appreciated.
  2. RulingTheRoost

    RulingTheRoost In the Brooder

    Jan 5, 2015
    It seems your hen is at the very, very bottom of the pecking order. While there isn't much you can do about it, the best thing for her would be spending a little time outside with her and sitting by her to shoo the others who are there to bully her as she eats, that way you can be sure she is being fed. Another thing that might be helpful is to build her a little sheltered box with a perch (if it snows frequently where you live, be sure to block the edges from any snow that might get in to pile up on her) and put her in there when the rest have gone to bed.

    I know that sounds like a lot of work, but from what I've experienced, giving her a little extra tlc will be all she needs to thrive.

    Good luck! :)
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Sometimes when an established chicken is shunned from the group, they sense something is wrong with the chicken that humans don't see. This chicken may be unwell and dying. It might not be that they are driving her from the coop, but rather she can't make it into the coop. And she might not make it up as high as the roost.

    Separating the bird will cause big problems when you try to put her back in the flock, she will be a stranger to them, and that will make this bullying worse, not better.

    Sometimes, well actually often, space is the problem when bullying is going on, generally the chick grew up, shrinking the space around them. However, at 1.5 years, you would have had problems months ago. You would see bullying going on and know who is the culprit.

    What I think you are describing is a lethargic bird that is only coming out, not when you are there to protect her, but when you come down there is an excitement that pulls her out of her funk enough to come out. She is not timid, I think she is weak. I think she is sick, and dying and I would cull her from the flock.

    Mrs K
  4. JanetMarie

    JanetMarie Crowing

    Oct 23, 2014
    Last year I had an older hen who had gotten ill. When I decided to bring her in the house there was another hen standing over her pecking her on the head. The sick hen was just sitting there. After the sick hen was in the house for a few days she recovered and was herself again. I took her back out to the flock and she was just fine until she had to encounter that bully hen. Then we could see what the problem was. We got rid of the bully. I'm not saying get rid of all your hens except for the low one, but just that by her being bullied so much may cause her to get sick to the point of death.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: