Bully Hens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Sweetwater Sam, Jan 17, 2017.

  1. Sweetwater Sam

    Sweetwater Sam New Egg

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    Feb 15, 2016
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    I am a new backyard chicken keeper. I have 6 hens now 9 months old. I have 6 different varieties.
    Recently I have noticed that 2 of my hens are pecking on my Americauna. The bully's I've seen have been my Astralorpe and my New Hampshire Red. They have pecked her feathers off behind her head. I'm afraid if this continues they will kill her.
    Need suggestions, please!!
     
  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC and to chicken keeping.
    This is not an uncommon behavior - and there are several factors that can contribute to normal "pecking order" getting a bit out of hand to the point of excessive picking of feathers, etc. Is it just missing feathers or is the skin beneath the area being damaged? Can you tell us about the environment your birds are in - dimensions of the coop and, if applicable, run or, if no run, the size of the area the birds are free ranging in. What are you currently feeding the birds? When you notice the picking is it in relation to any particular activity - ie when the lower bird has approached the feed station, water station, a favored sunning place, nests, etc? How many feed/water stations are in the enclosure?
     
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  3. orrpeople

    orrpeople Looking for a Silver Lining Premium Member

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    X2 on the questions. Sometimes this is a very simple issue to solve (adding more diversions, feeders, space in the coop) and sometimes it's a much more difficult issue. Would be great to know your environment.
     
  4. Vickie 51

    Vickie 51 Out Of The Brooder

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    A few things, some of which have been mentioned;

    1. Chickens need space so please consider how much area you have for the number of birds. The more space, the better off you are.

    2. Make sure they have activities. It sounds funny but chickens are bright and do get bored. Try hanging up a head of cabbage for them to bat around and eat. Put a couple of trays of straw down, scatter grain or meal worms on them and let the hens scratch around like a treasure hunt. Put a melon down, cut a slice out of one side and let them bob for seeds.

    3. Spray the area affected with Blu-Kote. It will help with healing but also cover up the redness which is one thing that encourages further pecking.
     
  5. muktownchick

    muktownchick New Egg

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    Sep 27, 2016
    I also have had this problem. One chicken a leg horn is picking at the bottom of another leg horn. Her tush is clean of feathers, and as soon as new growth starts the other removes it. Nothing towards rest of flock. I only have 6 girls. 3 leg horns 3 sex link reds. All lay fine. Just pink bottom as she has been nicknamed has a cold rush and living in wisconsin that can be tough. Any suggestions????
     
  6. orrpeople

    orrpeople Looking for a Silver Lining Premium Member

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    Check out this recent thread on feather picking. Sounds more like that might be your issue. Best of luck!
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1148824/topic-of-the-week-feather-pecking-eating
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2017
  7. muktownchick

    muktownchick New Egg

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    Sep 27, 2016
    WOW! Thank you so much!!!!! I check it out and it sounds just like it. No real harm is being done. We let them out for play time when we can, and we do get them corn, but we haven't had meal worms in while. Treats for everyone! Thanks so much again!!!!
     
  8. Shezadandy

    Shezadandy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Pumpkins, melons, flock blocks- all take a good amount of hard pecking. Obviously this year, watermelons and pumpkins can be hard to find- so a flock block might be a good distraction because it takes so much work for them to get the seeds off of it. Usually feed/farm stores have them between $11-15 for a 20lb (or so) block.
     
  9. muktownchick

    muktownchick New Egg

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    Sep 27, 2016
    Me again. So we did treat block went ok. we also read article about separation to allow for rearranging pecking order. We did that followed rules exactly. Not only did it not work but she is even more aggressive than before and has now drawn blood. I've removed her again. Is it time to accept she needs to be permanently removed from flock? We only have six. All came together been together since on e day old. even when free of coop with plenty of room she seeks out smallest hen. Any help appreciated![​IMG]
     
  10. Shezadandy

    Shezadandy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If everything was calm and pleasant with her gone and she's the cause of the chaos, then yes, I'd say it's time for her to find a new home. Whatever the reason for the behavior, her presence is adding stress to you and your other chickens. With the others getting along fine without her, I'd stick with the "good" group and let the bully go. Sometimes it's just the bird. I rehomed a golden laced wyandotte for this reason- actually she constantly chased the broody's babies as little chicks, pecking the broody too - grabbing the chicks by the wing and tossing them. The two GLWs worked together to corner other birds and 'mug' them. So first I removed one, then the other, and found which one was the instigator. That hen found a nice home with 2 other hens and is doing just fine there!
     
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