Bullied hen

hagoesch

Chirping
Mar 11, 2020
86
93
91
Southeastern WI
Hello. Our sweetest hen, Pat, is also the lowest in the pecking order, mercilessly tormented by the other five ladies.

They'd even taken to policing the coop pop door, not granting her entry to take shelter from the cold, the rain, the 543 mph winds.⁣⁣ Once I tried carrying her into the coop... they pecked her right back out and she learned to no longer try entering, instead huddling next to the barn beside the door.⁣⁣ To keep her safe outdoors I built her a little shelter from scrap wood and two metal window wells. [Photo attached: Pat is the hen left out of the huddle.] The weather has been nice since I put it in the run two days ago, so everyone is out and I've not noticed her try to go inside. They still chase her away from food to eat first and run to inspect whatever she finds, but behavior seemed better. Though she's incredibly skittish.

At nighttime yesterday she was at the far end of the roosting bar by herself, so I nestled her in a gap between two of the others for warmth (low 30° F). This evening I went out and counted only six chickens... Pat was in a nesting box 😞 I picked up and scooched three hens over, then plopped Pat in the space between one of them and our rooster. It took a while for everyone to settle down but I think they'll stay like that. I'm fine doing that every night but obviously they're becoming less and less accepting of her... and/or she's becoming more and more afraid. I'm running out of ideas because I really don't want to re-home her (and wouldn't have any leads to do so in the first place).

I will be so grateful for any thoughts to help my kind little girl. Thank you in advance, Heather
 

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hagoesch

Chirping
Mar 11, 2020
86
93
91
Southeastern WI
I would separate the bullies into a crate to make the pecking order change.
You could add more roosts.

Thanks. We have two bars. They all sleep on the top. Could I put the bullies on the bottom bar tomorrow night, leaving Pat and our rooster, maybe one more hen, up top? I unfortunately don't have something big enough to put the other three in for an extended period.
 

CluckerFamily

Enabler
5 Years
Feb 14, 2016
10,397
61,027
1,131
Wisconsin
Thanks. We have two bars. They all sleep on the top. Could I put the bullies on the bottom bar tomorrow night, leaving Pat and our rooster, maybe one more hen, up top? I unfortunately don't have something big enough to put the other three in for an extended period.
I think she will either jump down and into the nesting box or someone will jump up. They all like their perfect spots.
 

CluckerFamily

Enabler
5 Years
Feb 14, 2016
10,397
61,027
1,131
Wisconsin
Another thought is to make her own roost bar. Could you add a little roost at the top of the nesting boxes? She may prefer that instead of the nesting box since it is higher but not up by the others. And the others may not use it since they prefer to be up by each other.
Without forcing a change in the pecking order, she will be on the bottom.
My lowest one in the pecking order is my best broody. No one will mess with her when she has chicks. It is different to see but she must have a wicked side when it comes to protecting her chicks.
 

CluckerFamily

Enabler
5 Years
Feb 14, 2016
10,397
61,027
1,131
Wisconsin
Honestly ours play musical sleep spots almost every night. Maybe I'll try this as an experiment, unless you think it'd do more harm than good.
If you will be putting her on the roost with the rest and if you have a roost lower than the other, put her on the lower roost. Easy way to get away from the others and the others will most likely group together on the higher one.
 
May 22, 2020
582
997
206
Texas
You said she is the smallest, and while the nest box is not an ideal place to sleep... my Uncle raised chickens in Kansas, we are talking 250+ in a metal barn in the middle of a pasture as they free ranged. Every single chicken had a nest box to sleep in if they chose to do so, and 2 long roosts down the middle, both at the same height. They all were healthy and happy, sure we had to wash a few eggs, change the hay monthly, but he was a farmer. She is small and probably cold, that's why she wants the nestbox. She feels safe there and is protected and warm. So long as she can eat, drink, sleep and isn't being bloodied or torn apart, let nature do its thing. :) 👍 We as humans tend to think, that all chicken behavior should be set in stone, one way or another. But, theres always that one odd chicken.... my favorite Rooster.... he sleeps in the nestbox after all his hens have roosted for the night. He will go into coop at dusk after he calls them, hop on the roost and wait until all are in and settled. Then he spruces up the nestbox and goes to sleep. LoL
 

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