Bully Chicken and Reintegration

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by JM 1st chickens, Sep 24, 2014.

  1. JM 1st chickens

    JM 1st chickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello!

    I am new to the site and new to chickens as well, but I am in desperate need of help.

    A few weeks ago I noted that my Delaware was staying away from all the other chickens (4 total). I was told to make sure she wasn't sick and sure enough when I checked her out she had a hole in her head. I had no idea how it happened. I decided to spend some time observing the chickens behavior and realized she was avoiding one chicken in particular. I came to the conclusion that the Delaware is at the bottom of the pecking order and that the other chicken was bullying her. The coop is big for only four chickens however they are only on wood with shavings. I am currently in the works on expanding the coop so they can go out and peck at the dirt to entertain themselves a little more.

    In order to heal the wound found on the Delaware I separated them. Sure enough she is in good health now. The spot scabbed over and new feathers are growing. However, the Delaware is completely miserable all alone. I am now trying to reintegrate the Delaware. I was instructed to get a solution to put on to make sure she doesn't keep getting pecked on the head. I put it on before reintroducing her and find out that the solution is purple. The moment I put her in the coop the other chickens come over and start pecking the purple spot (quite viscously). I am not sure if they were pecking because it was purple or just picking on her.

    Please help! I don't know what to do. I want my flock back together. Do I need the separate the bully chicken to put her in her place? I am expecting an egg from the bully chicken any day now and I really don't want to interrupt that process due to stress and it makes me so sad to hear the Delaware calling out for friends constantly.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

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    Well you could eat the bully, rehome her, or get pinless peepers for her. However, she may have trained the others to attack the Delaware. If they are all bullies now, maybe the kindest thing would be to rehome the Delaware to someone with a docile flock, so she can have friends instead of fears.
     
  3. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    Hello :frow and Welcome To BYC! If your Delaware was separated for more than a couple of days, you are pretty much going to have to do like you are integrating a completely new bird.... a long period of seeing but no touching through wire seem to work best, ie dividing the coop into two sections or keeping the Del in a cage inside the coup for a couple of weeks at least. The chickens will get to know each other again and sort of work out a pecking order before actually coming in contact with each other. Letting them free range together is a good idea and should help... It will take a couple of weeks to get the pecking order sorted out. There is a nice article in the Learning Center on integrating flocks you might like to check out, the part about actually combining them is after the quarantine section https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock also a nice one on Bullys https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/bullying-behavior-in-chickens Pinless Peepers do work really well for that sort of thing. Separating the bully may also work if it is just one bird mainly. The easiest solution is probably to place the Del in another flock if she is really the odd chicken out in the flock. The purple stuff usually works really well at covering wounds and the color shouldn't have anything to do with why the chickens are picking on the Del as such.
     
  4. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    Hello there and welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    You need to work with the bully that is attacking her. Either cage this bird for a month or more completely away from the flock, rehome her, eat her or use pinless peepers on her. Never let another bird bully other members of the flock. I have a hen that was a terror when she was very young..ripping combs, bullying the other girls. I was finding blood all over everything. The only thing that worked was pinless peepers. She wore these on and off for months at a time over the years...

    [​IMG]
    These will stop the bully in her tracks. They can't see directly in front of them to pluck, bite or cause any trouble. This hen here is now 3 1/2 years old. Still cranky, but no longer needs to wear the peepers.

    Get your bird healed up and if you have too separate her, keep her in a cage within the flock at all times so there is no need for reintroduction. In the mean time, separate the bully, rehome her or put peepers on her. Leave them on her for atleast 1 month. Then you can give her a break. If she goes back to being cranky, but the peepers back on for another month. A bit extreme, but chicken can be cruel. And other birds should not suffer because one of them is mean.

    Good luck with your flock. :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2014
  5. JM 1st chickens

    JM 1st chickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 24, 2014
    Thank you all for the replies!

    Because I didn't know what caused the injury and was afraid it may have been contagious I isolated the Delaware to ensure it didn't spread. In retrospect, I should have kept her in sight of the flock. I will move her cage today so she can see her flock mates and let them free range a little together.

    The bully does not seem to be picking on anyone else, so I will be sure to watch that carefully and either gift her to someone else or eat her. Although I would like to avoid that since she is the only one who is about to lay an egg.

    Thank you!
     
  6. Mountain Peeps

    Mountain Peeps Change is inevitable, like the seasons Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC! Please make yourself at home and we are here to help.

    Kelsie and Two Crows have given you excellent advice. Good luck!
     
  7. JM 1st chickens

    JM 1st chickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Good news! I let my chickens free range together and they did great! Surprisingly, the one I thought was the bully did not do any pecking but another did, funny how it works out. They had their little pecking problems, which was a lot to get used to but it did calm down. By the end of the two hours of free ranging together for the first time ever they were all walking around together with the Delaware walking the farthest away from the group.

    Now my questions is, how do I know when they are ready to welcome the Delaware back into the coop? They were all going in and out of the coop and never had any problems but I am worried to put her in the coop too early and have them peck her in the neck where she still is healing from the previous pecking.

    Thank you!
     
  8. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    You will need to observe them to see for yourself. And watch them closely. Let her mingle with them and hang around a bit. If you start to see any aggression toward her, remove the bird that is starting it before it escalates into a flock brawl. Then keep this aggressive bird caged while in the coop so she can move freely. When they are free ranging you can let them all be together since the Delaware is free to move about. But when in the coop, keep the bully locked up. If the Delaware is still showing any skin, you may need to cage her instead until her feathers grow back in. Or again, use pinless peepers on the aggressive birds.

    But you need to make this call. Only you know how your flock is acting. So just watch them closely for a while, and spot things early. If you come out and a few feathers have been yanked out of this bird, you know something is going on.
     
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  9. JM 1st chickens

    JM 1st chickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you TwoCrows!

    At one point the whole flock decided to go into the coop and the Delaware was in a corner and they didn't have any problems. I am going to try free ranging again today and see how it goes.

    Thank you for the advice!
     
  10. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    Great advice.
     

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