Canadian Chickens

In the Brooder
Aug 9, 2019
8
8
19
Ontario, Canada
Hello,

Very new to the chicken world. We started with 9 Rhode Island Reds. Unfortunately, lost one to a hawk in the spring. Now 8 remain.

There must be bullying in our coop, but cannot find the culprits! Some look pretty rough with missing feathers and most have their tails snipped short. We never find feathers laying around and changed their roost set up to prevent further feather plucking. I even installed a camera inside the coop to figure it out. Still.... no evidence. I am at a loss.

This all started at the end of the winter and the ladies missing feathers still look the same after months and have not grown any feathers back. Is this normal to take so long for the feathers to come back?

I have built a bird jail to remove the bully, but have had no luck to figuring it out!

Furthermore, we have recently introduced two young new birds. They were quarantined and then introduced by a separated coop and seperate outside run, but both area were able to be seen only by older flock. Now they are all together.

The older girls chase the younger ones and do not let them eat spread out treats. I believe one new is a cockerel and the other pullet.

At night the younger chickens (10 weeks) curl up in a corner and the older hens on the roosts. Everyone has a choice to go to a completely separate coop area with all the same amenities, but choose to stay all together. This all confuses me.

I am considering removing multiple (4 or 5) older hens into the bird jail (it is pretty big area) for a while and let the younger ones have less bullies to worry about.

Any thoughts.....
 

SueT

Crossing the Road
Premium member
May 27, 2015
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SW MO
They could have lost feathers for other reasons such as mites. With newcomers, make sure there are multiple feed and water stations. Roosting is the worst time for grievances. I improvised dividers on my roosts to help w that. If you can add new roosts, that can help.
What breed are the newcomers? The same? I have found that Rhode Island Reds tend to be aggressive, and many other people report the same. If the youngsters are a more mild mannered breed, that could be a problem.
Good luck, keep us updated!
 

Canadian Chickens

In the Brooder
Aug 9, 2019
8
8
19
Ontario, Canada
They could have lost feathers for other reasons such as mites. With newcomers, make sure there are multiple feed and water stations. Roosting is the worst time for grievances. I improvised dividers on my roosts to help w that. If you can add new roosts, that can help.
What breed are the newcomers? The same? I have found that Rhode Island Reds tend to be aggressive, and many other people report the same. If the youngsters are a more mild mannered breed, that could be a problem.
Good luck, keep us updated!
Thanks for the help SueT!

We checked for mites and lice and had more experienced chicken keepers look as well. They told me that there is no signs.

Our coop is divided into upstairs and downstairs, with a floor slider to close or open. Food, water and roosts on both levels. I don't know why they all crowed in the same level.

The Rhode Islands are so great with my kids. I never expected them to be so mean to the newbies. The newbies are possibly pullet Copper Marans and cockerel Easter Egger.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
75,019
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My Coop
My Coop
How big is the coop in meters x meters?
Dimensions and pics(inside and out) would help immensely.
Pics of birds too, showing feather damage and to ID breed of youngsters.

What all and how exactly are you feeding?

Oh, and..... Welcome to BYC!
Thanks for adding your location.

Here's some tips about.....
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.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
10 Years
Nov 12, 2009
7,495
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western South Dakota
I too, looked at this and wondered how big your coop was. Space is the number one issue in a fighting flock. The minimum size a coop should be for 10 birds is 40 square feet. So you need a coop that is 4x10. However, you cannot add the bottom area to the top area. Because birds like to roost as high as possible, you really can only count your top area.

Being you have another area set up, try pulling a couple of birds and see if the flock relaxes.

However, if you are not seeing any aggression in the daytime... that confuses me. My own birds look rough this time of year, we are headed into molt. I have one that looks like she slept wrong with feathers sticking out an weird angles. That is normal. As the molt finishes and the new feathers come in, they will look beautiful.

I am not sure, but when you mention the second coop, do you mean the lower level or there really is a separate coop. The lower level will not count, they won't sleep there. If you truly have a second coop, then you might physically split the flock every night for a couple of nights putting some of them in the other coop.

What does your run look like? Is it an open area where a bird can see each and every bird all of the time? Add some hide outs, such as pallets leaned against a wall, or up on blocks so a bird can get on top or under. Add some roosts, and some extra feed bowls situated so that while a bird is eating at one bowl, they cannot see a bird eating at another.

What is your feed protein level? Might try a higher level of protein, or scraps of meat. Send us some pictures of your set up and your birds.

Mrs K
 

Canadian Chickens

In the Brooder
Aug 9, 2019
8
8
19
Ontario, Canada
So sorry for the delay.
Here are some pictures of our coop and our worse looking bird. I also measured, and if they will not use the bottom, we are over capacity!
I have put up a dividers to help.
Our run is also very open. My husband is going to bring some pallets home, for hiding spots. Thanks for the advice!
If I close the door in the floor and separate the flock each night, will they eventually use the bottom? I was hoping to have the same outside run, but I can separate that too. Therefore they will have no other choice.
So thankful that I am getting sound advice!
 

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Mrs. K

Free Ranging
10 Years
Nov 12, 2009
7,495
7,525
536
western South Dakota
no, they won't use the bottom, and if you lock them in there they will feel stressed. Chicken nature is to roost above. As you are in the north, this problem is going to get much worse. Because of the long nights of winter.

To get a happy flock, and reduce the tension in the flock you either need a bigger coop, or you need to reduce the number of your birds. Wishing they would all just be nice won't work.

This frequently happens to us all when we first get started. What seems to be more than enough room when they are chicks, as the birds grow, rapidly becomes not enough space.
And ugly behaviors start. Inexperienced people often are not even aware of the tension until feather picking and fighting occur.

Once I got a bad case of chicken math, more is better, and a predator helped me out. I was so upset at first, lost several birds. But almost immediately I noticed that my birds that I had left, were much more relaxed. It was fun to watch them again. I told a count, and that was the number of birds for that set up.

One can cheat on the numbers a little bit in the summer, adding chicks to the flock. You have long days, and chicks are tiny. But come the fall, the hard part of raising chickens needs to be done, you need to cull the flock to fit the set up for the long dark nights of winter.

Neither being raised together nor free range time will compensate for a too small coop in winter.

Mrs K
ps. I think you have more than enough run space, adding clutter and they should all get along. It is the coop space that is not sufficient. and in a winter storm, I think you are going to have a lot of problems.

Culling a few chickens would just mean selling a few head. I think you would be much happier with the results. They should be molting soon, and tight quarters will make for very crabby birds.
 
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aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
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SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
Nice job on the dividers!
Can the newbies jump up into the divided space?
That is mighty tight space for 8 birds let alone adding 2 more.
How long is the roost?
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
10 Years
Nov 12, 2009
7,495
7,525
536
western South Dakota
I do notice your roost divider, which to me looks like someone can build. If you enclosed the deck portion that would double the coop size. I love the windows, and they will too this winter. Do the make it hot in the summer?

Do you have enough ventilation?
 

moniquem

Crowing
7 Years
Feb 3, 2013
687
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washington
I have a 4X4 coop that originally housed 4 large breed chickens, I had them all since 1 day old. My BR became such a bully to my SS that I eventually re-homed her. My flock has been happy campers ever since. I didn't realize how stressed out they all were with her around, until she was gone. Best thing I ever did.
 
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