Bully Pullet Bothering Chicks

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by speckledegg728, Dec 31, 2016.

  1. speckledegg728

    speckledegg728 In the Brooder

    Oct 14, 2016
    Rural Ohio.
    My Speckled Sussex pullet is a bully, and none of us saw it coming. She's 16 weeks along with the rest of her brooder mates, and next to last in the pecking order. But her brooder mates, of course, are not the victims of her violence. Her victims are the 4 week old chicks that we have recently moved into the coop. They are enclosed in a separate pen that sits adjacent to the big girls', closed off by chicken wire, boards on the bottom, skinny fence posts, and now a large piece of cardboard due to this pullet. Normally, Pippa is the sweetest and calmest of the whole flock. She loves to talk, sit with me, and be touched. Everyone who visits wants to see Pippa first. But when the chicks are concerned, she is a whole different bird. She will squawk loudly when she sees one, at an almost deafening pitch, and stick her head through the bars if their gate is open and wait to bite one. Poor little things. It's not a tiny peck, either; one of the chicks got a good one in the throat and bled a little but thankfully was fine, and another chick Pippa got bled from the nose.

    Any ideas as to why she is being so hostile? Is she jealous? Does she think they're her personal tiny food supply? When the "boss" of the chick pecking order goes up to see the other pullets, they might look at her and bawk, but rarely do they peck. Even Becky, top of the pecking order, gives a light peck and a stink eye and nothing more. Pippa just waits out to hurt them.

    On a side note, could this have anything to do with Pippa getting closer to laying time? Her face, wattles, and comb are a bit redder than everyone elses and she is being VERY noisy.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Point of lay hens will often get a bit more bossy and emotional, it is chicken puberty, she is being a teenager.

    She is also doing what comes naturally to her by stating her position in the flock, something she probably hasn't had a chance to do until now. She also is probably happy to have someone to boss around and be below her in the pecking order. She is being a chicken.
  3. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Old hen nailed it. Your pullet is at the right age and hormonal stage to find great sport in tormenting chicks. This is very normal and expected. It's predictable that when younger, newer members are introduced into a flock, the lowest ranking will see it as an opportunity to flaunt their status over the newcomers. You're going to have to deal with it.

    There are some things you can do, and you've already started to think about it. Here are a few suggestions:

    When you decide the time is right to let the chicks mingle with the flock, make sure they have places to retreat to where the older ones can't reach them. I like to employ the panic room method where a safe pen is set up in the run with chick-size openings.

    High perches in the run help, as do foils and barricades. Something as simple as a tree branch with leaves still attached can act as a hideout for chicks. I found that placing an old card table in the run and feeding the fully grown chicks on top of it a big help after chicks no longer fit through the openings of their panic room.

    This issue will persist for the next few months. The chicks will learn to deal with it and so will you.
  4. I am sure the Chicks still peep and she does not understand the peeping...Chickens are strange and pecking order runs strong.......

    She will calm once they get used to each other.....


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