Bullying Among The Hens

idaholbrook

In the Brooder
Mar 23, 2018
9
20
39
Near Boise Idaho
I have 10 hens, no rooster. 5 buff Orpingtons, 3 Barred Rocks and 2 Rhode Island Reds. It's getting frosty and cold at night so 3 night's ago I decided to go out and close the little door. On my way out I heard a huge commotion and when I got to the coop 3 hens were huddled outside with frost all over them. When I put them in the coop 2 of the Buffs were guarding the door and wouldn't let me put the girls in. I just shoved them aside and pushed the girls in and shut the door. I waited about 5 minutes and the commotion stopped so I left. This has been going on for 3 night's that I know of (3 night's ago is when it started to freeze and I started closing the door.) Maybe longer. I need suggestions for how to combat this issue. I am leaving for 17 days after Christmas and my adu,t daughter will be looking after hens, but she is a little afraid of the hens so I am worried some hens will end up out in the cold. Temps will be in the low teens and maybe single digits while I'm gone. Will hens survive out in low temps or is there a way to fix the problem? Or will the issues eventually resolve Itself?
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,301
20,171
907
Southeast Louisiana
How old are they? Are any or all of them laying yet? I'm wondering if you have immature pullets or mature hens. That could make a difference.

In feet, how big is your coop? How is it laid out inside, especially the roosts? How many roosts, how long, and what heights? Photos of the inside of your coop might help.

Without knowing any real details my first guess is that you have immature pullets that are maturing. They mature at different rates. Those Buff's are staging a palace revolt, taking over the dominant position from the former flock leaders. Since the more dominant chicken gets its choice of roosting location a fight over preferred roosting place my be involved. If this is the case it could be over in the next few days, when those three submit to the dominance of the two Buffs. If roosting space is a trigger to those actions adding an additional roost separated a bit from the main roosts and maybe a little lower might give them a safe place to go without encroaching on the main roosts. Roost time is when mine are most brutal to each other. I could be totally wrong.

I find that when I have behavioral problems how much room they have is often a factor. The size in feet is important information, but it's no really a square feet per chicken issue. The quality of that room is also a factor.

When I was growing up in the ridges of Appalachia I remember a period of four days and five nights where the temperature never got above zero Fahrenheit. We had chickens sleeping in trees. Those trees were not out in the open but were in a sheltered valley. When it was that cold we probably didn't have any wind. If your chickens can get out of the wind they will probably be OK in those temperatures. I don't know how predator-proof your run is, that may be a bigger concern.
 

moniquem

Crowing
Feb 3, 2013
721
1,621
282
washington
I had a bully that I eventually had to re-home. She was a Barred Rock who tormented my Speckled Sussex. I'm a new chicken owner so just thought this is what chickens do, as long as no blood is drawn we'll all be fine.

The final straw for me was a few weeks ago at bedtime i heard a huge commotion in the coop and found the bully hen had cornered the other one in a nest box right by the inside of the coop door and was pecking and kicking her pretty brutally. I decided the cold was coming and they all needed to get along in the coop so I placed her for free on craigslist, she was gone the next morning.

Since I re-homed the bully the other 3 get along well. The SS actually gets to cuddle up on the top roost with the other 2, before she was always sleeping alone at the end of the lower roost.

Its a bummer to have to get rid of a chicken that you've had since 2 days old, put all the time and money into raising it only to have to re-home but I'm so glad now that I did.
 

imnukensc

Crowing
May 22, 2017
1,633
3,612
319
SC Midlands
I had a similar situation when 2 of my older BRs were mercilessly pecking/bullying one of my younger BRs to the point that her comb and head were bloody and she had large bloody bare patches on her scalp. I tried several remedies, but the only thing that worked was to put pinless peepers on the bullies.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
95,262
126,412
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
RR asked all the questions I would have asked.

Might want to get your daughter over to have some chicken handling practice, with you as her coach and mentor, before she has to do it on her own.
 

idaholbrook

In the Brooder
Mar 23, 2018
9
20
39
Near Boise Idaho
How old are they? Are any or all of them laying yet? I'm wondering if you have immature pullets or mature hens. That could make a difference.

In feet, how big is your coop? How is it laid out inside, especially the roosts? How many roosts, how long, and what heights? Photos of the inside of your coop might help.

Without knowing any real details my first guess is that you have immature pullets that are maturing. They mature at different rates. Those Buff's are staging a palace revolt, taking over the dominant position from the former flock leaders. Since the more dominant chicken gets its choice of roosting location a fight over preferred roosting place my be involved. If this is the case it could be over in the next few days, when those three submit to the dominance of the two Buffs. If roosting space is a trigger to those actions adding an additional roost separated a bit from the main roosts and maybe a little lower might give them a safe place to go without encroaching on the main roosts. Roost time is when mine are most brutal to each other. I could be totally wrong.

I find that when I have behavioral problems how much room they have is often a factor. The size in feet is important information, but it's no really a square feet per chicken issue. The quality of that room is also a factor.

When I was growing up in the ridges of Appalachia I remember a period of four days and five nights where the temperature never got above zero Fahrenheit. We had chickens sleeping in trees. Those trees were not out in the open but were in a sheltered valley. When it was that cold we probably didn't have any wind. If your chickens can get out of the wind they will probably be OK in those temperatures. I don't know how predator-proof your run is, that may be a bigger concern.
 

idaholbrook

In the Brooder
Mar 23, 2018
9
20
39
Near Boise Idaho
I can't believe I didn't respond to the questions regarding my bully hens. So here's an update some 4 months later. I just left the situation alone. And the hens all do their own thing now. Some stay out in the yard late into the night and some go in at dusk. They are just weird birds. I have noticed that I have a RIR that sits in front of the door blocking the entrance and that leaves the other 3 or 4 outside until late. I lost one hen over the winter. I don't know what happened. I found her laying on the floor of the coop. My coop is 4x8 raised off the ground. it has lots of roosting space for 9 hens. I see them at night huddled together with lots of room on the roosts. I have learned that the hens can pretty much manage themselves and I don't have to be a nervous chicken momma. Other than thinking I have a bully or two all seems well with my flock.
 

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