Bully Chicken -- What would you do?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by kimchick621, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. kimchick621

    kimchick621 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 23, 2012
    I have 3 young chickens that have been set up next to the main chicken run for about a month and I've recently opened up their run so the chickens are all together. I've attempted a few times to integrate these young birds with my small flock (4 other birds) and I end up giving up and feeling sorry for them because I have one very relentless gal.

    My new birds have been staying in a wire cage that I cover at night, and I really would like them to get out of the crate and into the coop, but this other bird literally spends her day in front of their crate and they won't come out to eat unless she is gone. She only leaves when I shoo her away and then the poor things hungrily gobble up food. I worry that they only eat when I'm there standing guard.

    This is day 3 of this. My husband says I care too much (worry too much?), and I should just sit back and let the new chickens learn to assert themselves. They're not yet fully grown (hatched late October) so they're about 16 weeks old now.

    Things I've tried:

    1. I've tried putting the bully hen in a crate for a day. The sad part is that she's a momma, and her baby circled her in the crate all day (baby is also 16 weeks old, btw!) When I let her out, she went right back to her bullying ways.

    2. I've kicked her out entirely to give them a reprieve. Made her and her baby free range the day while they got used to the other chickens. As soon as I let her back in, she went right back to being a bully.

    As I look out the window, she is standing greedily over their feeder and they are cowering in their wire cage. Do I just wait it out? The 3 young chickens are 1 hen, and two roosters. I keep telling them to man up, lol.
     
  2. PoultryGirly

    PoultryGirly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had a hen that was like that and she would NOT quit bullying, so I had to get rid of her (as in giving her to a friend). After I gave her to my friend, she realized she wasn't the boss and she stopped bullying.
     
  3. kimchick621

    kimchick621 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 23, 2012
    Well, that is an option. My neighbor has a large flock (20+) and I know if I throw her in with them she'll not be top hen at all. Having only 5 hens total though, losing just one kinda sucks. I suppose I'll have to do that if she won't stop. How much longer should I wait. Like a week or so?
     
  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    You need to examine your flock dynamics. You can learn a lot by sitting and watching them interact for awhile. Let the three out of their cage and remove it from the run.

    Could the mama/bully hen be trying to give her offspring the best shot at food and position in the pecking order by oppressing the three other youngsters?

    The three have learned they're second in pecking order to her offspring and I tend to believe, like your husband, if turned loose, they will settle into their established flock ranks soon enough when given the freedom to do so. I would also guess, it won't be long that mama hen will quit mothering her baby, and she'll back off being the bully she is now.

    You can help the transition for the three by introducing another feeder, temporarily fencing it off, giving them an opportunity to learn life outside the cage, then remove the fencing after a couple days, and allow everyone to settle into their new ranks. You can expect some friction, but I'm betting they'll all adjust pretty well.

    I think the cage is keeping them all from adjusting to being one flock.
     
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  5. mrwoodboat

    mrwoodboat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    agree with above- I found that the best way to introduce was to use some 2x4 welded wire to seperate the new arrivals for a few days. since I use a feeder made from PVC pipe, I run it such that birds can feed on both sides of the wire fence. After a few days, I remove the wire and there is a moment of assertion from the dominate chook and then life resumes....good luck
     
  6. kimchick621

    kimchick621 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 23, 2012
    Well, see they've been next to each other for a month now. The cage has been their only shelter in this rehoming time, and I cover it with a tarp at night so they have some kind of shelter. We added on an extra part of the run, and let them roost at night on a stick I've stuck in their cage. The cage right now is their only escape from the harassment they're getting from the other chickens. I'm hesitant to take it out, but perhaps I will in a few more days so they all make the adjustment to the coop. I had hoped they would make the adjustment themselves and I could take the cage out when they've chosen the coop over it. :(
     
  7. ReikiStar

    ReikiStar Chillin' With My Peeps

    Good observations and advice. I would add...do you ever free range your birds? We've found the best way is to let them free range for as many weeks as you're able to...3 weeks if possible (we usually have multiple coops, so free range area is neutral ground). They will start to work out their differences but with lots of space to get away and then retire to different coops. While free ranging, they are able to explore each other's coops which sometimes allows for them to trade off in being the one to chase off an "intruder" and other times to be the intruder. We've found integrating new birds to be much easier with this technique. Plus, they get a more gradual exposure to each other's germs. Not such a worry with home raised chicks, more important with adults after quarantine.
     
  8. kimchick621

    kimchick621 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I haven't free ranged quite as much as I did in the summer. We've had a hawk problem and with no leaves in the trees around the coop they're more exposed. Should I risk it?
     
  9. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Did you raise these three from baby chicks? Even if they were obtained as partly grown, you could introduce them to the coop as some of us do with six-week olds. After you've seen that the grown hens have finished laying for the day, place the three in the coop and shut it so they can't get out and no one else can enter. Have food and water inside for them.

    You will probably need to referee roosting time, but it may not turn out to be as awful as you anticipate. It will help greatly if you keep the rest of the flock from entering until just before it gets too dark to see real well. This will minimize the length of time you'll have to supervise. They should all settle in as soon as it's too dark to see. Help the three newbies to get onto a perch, well away from the others if possible.

    Next morning, they'll all leave the coop on their own. Remove the cage the day before so the three newbies will start to learn not to be dependent on it. Set up a separate feeder as I advised. Fence it off if you can. Leave them in the enclosure all day, and an hour or two before sunset, place the three in the coop and shut the rest out until the last minute as you did the first night.

    Repeat this procedure for at least three nights, or four or five, until they learn the coop is home and it's where they can sleep safely at night. Meanwhile, if the nest boxes are in the coop, they'll be exploring them, and they'll know where to lay when that blessed day arrives.
     
  10. ReikiStar

    ReikiStar Chillin' With My Peeps

    Can you supervise their time out?
     

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