Bully girls:(

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Mamachickita, Oct 24, 2016.

  1. Mamachickita

    Mamachickita New Egg

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    Aug 9, 2015
    Hi there,

    I'm really hoping someone can help me.. I have a flock of six lovely ladies- Ruby, Maisy, Daisy, Maggie, Zola and Sugar[​IMG]They reside in a coop that is 6x10 (60 square feet) and the run is 9x4 (36 square feet) I know everyone can do math but it helps me to write it all out. They are let out to free range most days. Ruby bullied and pulled feathers from Maggie. A hole on each wing the size of a quarter and from her neck. Once I realized it was more then just the pecking order, I put Ruby in a crate and kept her in my mudroom for three weeks, in hopes that when I put her back, things would be better. They were not. I consulted "the chicken guy" from my local feed store who said if she were his, she would have been put in the pot but I could try clipping her beak, which I did- that didn't work either. It was winter time so I removed Ruby once again and she lived in a big plastic bin in the shed. I let her out with the rest of the girls because although she would occasionally chase Mags, she didn't seem to be pulling feathers because Maggie could run away. Then into the bin Ruby would go to sleep. I think that the pulling was happening on the roost at night and possibly when laying. When summer came, Ruby went to "summer on the south side of town" because we were going to be away for long period of times with my "chicken girls" coming to feed and water them daily. I didn't want to make things harder for them so off Ruby went to a friend's house- bin and all. When we got home from our travels, I noticed that Maggie was now bullying Sugar, my sweetest girl! Pulling feathers, no big spots but thinning on the wings and the neck. I considered re-homing Rubes but she is actually the most people loving chicken and my best layer so I wanted to give her one more chance. Since Ruby has been back, I'll see her briefly chase Maggie but she didn't seem to be pulling feathers. Now four out of the six are molting so everyone looks rough! Today I went out to see Maggie with both spots (that hadn't grown back yet) bloody. I know I can't continue to let Ruby do this but I'm afraid that Maggie will be worse to Sugar. Also, could it be possible that Maggie is making her own spots bloody? I read on another thread that feathers that are growing back can be irritating to a chicken. It's all so frustrating and I don't want to re-home both of them. Plus Maggie would probably be looked at as weak by a new flock and get bullied there. Why can't they all just get along?!! Any and all advice would be appreciated (ok, most- no soup pot for my girls[​IMG]) Thank you!
     
  2. PeepersMama

    PeepersMama Overrun With Chickens

    It is possible that she is pecking herself. I saw one of my austra whites peck at a broken pin feather on her tail [​IMG] Try putting blue-kote on her wounds, it repels others from pecking it because it tastes bad. I've never used it but I've heard it works.
    What breeds are they? Some breeds tend to be more aggressive than others, such as black sex-links and rhode island reds, and more docile breeds such as orpingtons tend to be bullied.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
  3. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    What are you feeding? Perhaps they aren't getting enough protein? You certainly have played havoc on their pecking order by constantly removing and adding a flock member. That may actually be making things worse, than better. Multiple food and water stations may help ease tensions.
     
  4. Mamachickita

    Mamachickita New Egg

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    Aug 9, 2015
    Ruby is surprise surprise, a RIR and Maggie is an Araucana. I am wondering if she bloodied herself. I noticed she finally had new feathers poking through and I was so excited! I learned that they won't grow back until after they molt. And when I was observing her this morning, I saw her grooming herself and had her beak in the area of one of the spots!
     
  5. Mamachickita

    Mamachickita New Egg

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    Aug 9, 2015
    Junebuggena, I feed them New Country organic layer feed- they have two feeders, two waters and they free range. Ruby has been removed and returned because of information I read, including on this site about pulling the offender out to break the cycle. When Ruby was gone, Maggie then bullied another hen, so it's a vicious circle[​IMG]
     
  6. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    There is always going to be a dominant bird in the flock. Dominant birds peck at the others to remind them of the rules and their place within the flock. Feather picking is usually caused by two things, inadequate space or not enough protein. Space isn't your issue.
    Layer feed usually has just barely enough protein in it to support egg production. And it's intended to comprise at least 90% of a bird's diet. A higher protein feed maybe what you need to get them over the feather picking.
     
  7. ClickCluckMoo

    ClickCluckMoo Out Of The Brooder

    Howdy Mamachickita!

    Sorry to hear about your birds. The pecking order can be so irritating! [​IMG] It always makes me sad to see some bird get picked on when they are eating or something.
    It sounds like your birds have plenty of space, so great job providing them with a big coop and run. I admire your ability to do that, as my twenty-four birds have to share a 6 ft by 6 ft coop. The difference is that mine are free-range during the day. But now, let's talk about your problem. There are several things that I think could be going on.
    How long have your girls been living together? They may just be working out ranks, and it sounds like they are all fairly young. RIRs are considered a more dominating breed, so that could explain Ruby's behavior. They may just need a week or two to work things out about who gets to be on top. If this is the problem, let them have a few days together. If there are any injuries, treat them with antibiotic and then smear some Vaseline around the wounds so the other will not peck the area. If, after a few days, the girls haven't calmed down, you may want to consider other problems.
    The fighting could be due to dietary issues, as a few others have said. You may want to research what a good protein level may be for your birds, and then check to see if your brand of feed meets the requirements.
    Also, is it possible that your chickens are just bored? Sometimes, hens will pick on each other for fun when they don't have much else to do. There are cures for boredom, such as hanging lettuce leaves in the run or putting fresh dirt with some treats of some sort mixed in into the run where they can scratch through it to find treasures. When it comes to making a chicken's life exciting, just get creative!
    Hopefully one of my theories can help. Let us know how it goes!

    Good luck!

    ~ClickCluckMoo~
     
  8. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    Peaking order in Birds is strong.....The Dominant Birds win all access to food, roosts and everything Chickens need to survive.....Bottom Birds try to fit in....Like High School...The PLAYGROUND...Anyways....
    Removing and reintroducing that Bird is not going to work....You either leave her with the flock or remove her for good....?
    She sounds to not mix with the flock....I got confused reading names..The whole story...Just explain the problem...Black and White...It can be fixed...

    Cheers!
     
  9. Mamachickita

    Mamachickita New Egg

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    Aug 9, 2015
    Sorry about the "whole story" I didn't mean to be long winded or confusing. I was trying to give all the information so that I could get the correct answers. To clarify, in addition to the feed, they
    are free range and I assumed they would get enough protein. Do they not? What can I supplement with?
     
  10. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    It was a story, but that is okay.....

    Here is how I feed my Birds.....You can add a Grower crumble to your layer to help with protein....I do 50/50 but it depends on your percentages...Mine is 16 and 17 %
    I feed almost nothing in Treats/snacks....Once or twice a week I give them...Layers only 5% daily ration...1 Tablespoon a day per Bird....
    Boredom busters breaks behaviour problems too.....Logs...Swings, pile of sticks and dirt to scratch in....Be inventive...

    Explain the two birds in question .....Not all the other stuff...

    Thanks!

    Cheers!!!!
     

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