Bullying has gotten out of hand

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Xenia's Chickens, Dec 12, 2015.

  1. Xenia's Chickens

    Xenia's Chickens In the Brooder

    May 21, 2010
    My Coop
    I am having a real problem with bullying. I have a sweet friendly 20 month old Buff Orpington who is the only survivor of a fox attack last fall. I purchased 9 new chicks this spring (Wyandottes and Barred Rocks), 2 of which were "surprise" cockerels. Everybody was getting along well until a few weeks ago when I found the Buffy cowering in a corner, bleeding from her comb and head. I cleaned her up and put her in a dog crate in the coop. After her wounds healed, I let her out with the rest of the flock and 4 of her flockmates (led by the huge Rock roo) immediately and viciously attacked her. I'm certain they would have killed her if I wasn't right there. Back in the crate she went. A week later I tried again-same result. She's also molting.

    Since that incident all h- - - has broken loose in the coop. Two of the smaller hens are missing all the feathers in their vent area. Some of the others are missing tail feathers. Oddly enough, the worst victim is the huge rock roo. All the feathers at the base of his tail have been pulled out and he has bleeding wounds in the area. I spray his wounds and the bare bottoms with Blue Kote every couple of days so the others won't see the wounds, but the feather pulling continues. Two of the bigger hens are also being overmated and have bare backs. I have never seen the roos fighting, and the smaller one is unscathed. I suspect one of the unwounded hens, but I'm not sure this hasn't turned into a free-for-all. As you can imagine, egg production is low.

    They have a 12' x 8' indoor coop and a 12' x 16' outdoor coop. I can't let them free range, or they'll all end up like my last flock. They are fed Blue Seal Extra Egg 16% protein, free choice grit and oyster shell, and mealworms on occasion.


  2. chickenraiser24

    chickenraiser24 Chirping

    Aug 15, 2015
    Once you figure out who is hurting your hens and roos, I would say she/he would have to go. You should separate them from the suspected hen, and see if it continues.
  3. Xenia's Chickens

    Xenia's Chickens In the Brooder

    May 21, 2010
    My Coop
    Forgot to mention- I'm also getting "fart eggs".
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Get rid of the cockerels. You didn't want them in the first place and they're just causing stress to the flock. You'll have more space with them gone, and be better able to figure out if any of the hens are causing problems. Getting rid of them may also re-set some flock dynamics--a hen that was higher in the flock because she was a male's favorite may find herself knocked down a few pegs.
  5. appps

    appps Crowing

    Aug 29, 2012
    How big an area do you have them in? Over crowding is the number one cause of this sort of behaviour so need to rule that out first.

    If they are in a big enough area I think I'd be tempted to put the older one and one or two of the others that you know are getting picked on but not doing the picking on, in an area together which is right next to the other one but seperate (temporarily divide your run in half with some chicken wire perhaps) Let them establish themselves their own little flock and pecking order for a few weeks as long as all stays calm. If you have any fighting take that one back out.

    Once they were established and have some strength in numbers. Add the next least problem hen. She may get a few pecks but they have been next to each other so it shouldn't be too bad. If she however attacks them more than general pecking order stuff, remove and try a different one. Wait another week and repeat

    I'd keep going till I had a harmonious group and would then get rid of any that were not interested in playing nice, especially that ringleader rooster who would be first to go. You don't have enough hens for two roosters to get along so at some point the way it's going you may come out and find one dead. If you don't plan to breed you may find things smoother if like mentioned above you just get rid of them both.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2015
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I don't think space is your problem....it's the 2 bonehead cockerels just coming into their hormones.

    Put both cockerels in wire dog crates, preferably out of sight of the other birds...
    .....I think you will be amazed at how quickly everyone calms down.

    If there's still bullying, you may have to remove the bully pullet(s) and slowly reintroduce.
  7. Xenia's Chickens

    Xenia's Chickens In the Brooder

    May 21, 2010
    My Coop
    The dimensions of my coop in my first post. There ought to be plenty of room. I like your solution in theory, True BCY Addict, but it's going to be really difficult to separate the chickens, without interfering with someone's access to nest boxes, roosts or the "chicken door" to the outside coop. I do have several dog crates, so I might try putting the roosters in separate crates away from the flock to see what happens. If it works, I'll cull at least one of them. Too bad, they're so handsome.

    I've never had more than 1 rooster before. I expected them to fight, but I haven't seen anything except crowing contests. I thought that they would go for each other's faces, not the base of the tail. Would they pluck a hen's backside?

  8. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    I agree with aart; get those cockrels out of there! Then, if you have one bird who looks really good, she may be the culprit here, if the problem continues. Mary
  9. Ballerina Bird

    Ballerina Bird Songster

    Aug 29, 2014
    Can I just say -- this is a totally fascinating conversation (though of course a stressful situation for the OP; very sorry to hear this is happening), and I am very interested in knowing the outcome and which solutions are tried. @Xenia's Chickens please update and tell us what happens as you try these ideas out; the info would be much appreciated. Hope you are able to restore peace soon!
  10. Xenia's Chickens

    Xenia's Chickens In the Brooder

    May 21, 2010
    My Coop
    The Barred Rock rooster had fresh wounds yesterday, so I decided to isolate him first. He needs time to heal and, as several have suggested, the whole problem may stem from the stress created by having 2 roosters. He can't be the only one, though, since he is the one with the worst wounds. I'll keep you up to date.

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