Bullying in Three-Hen Flock: What to do?

Nika B

Chirping
Jun 9, 2020
52
56
68
Hey!

Probably just overreacting here, but any advice would be appreciated.

I discovered today that one of my chickens in my three hen flock was attacking/bullying another. All birds are the same age (a little older than 2 years) and have been raised together. The bully is a California White named Luna and is at the top of the pecking order. The victim is an Easter Egger, lowest in the pecking order, named PomPom. As far as I can tell, my other chicken (Speckled Sussex) is doing fine, not bullying or being bullied. All chickens are currently molting, I have no idea if that could affect anything

Basically, I found the victim in a part of the coop that they don't normally hang out in. I sensed something might be wrong, so I tried to lure her back to the coop. She was very reluctant to follow me, but after offering treats she did follow. Then, Luna comes over and jumps on top of her, and starts pecking/clawing her. PomPom was never pinned or "helpless" but was definitely pecked and clawed. I was pretty surprised, as they had never been aggressive before, and just waited it out, assuming it was just a tussle. It went on for longer than I would have liked (more than 2 minutes) but they did eventually break it up. I thought that was going to be it, but Luna attacked again, and again. I managed to separate the two but noticed that both had minor bleeding. PomPoms was comb and ears, with a little spot above her eye, and Luna had just a few spots at the base of her comb.

Currently, I have Luna in a large dog crate in my garage, out of sight from other chickens. I know the "out of sight" isn't ideal, but she seemed to get very agitated if she saw her flock, so I am hoping to give her a little bit of time away to hopefully calm down. I will try to find a way to do "see but no touch" contact soon. I am aware this may be nothing, but due to the bleeding thought it would be a good idea to separate the two for a little. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!
 

Crazy Maizie

Crowing
Jul 3, 2020
2,526
4,041
391
Poor thing.
There are different ways to separate - you can separate the bully or the bullied. In this case with only 3, I think I'd separate the bully. I don't believe they have to see each other because when you reintroduce the one separated will be the newbie to the flock and they will all re-establish pecking order. For now, I would make sure the bullied one doesn't have any wounds and cover those with blue kote if needed.
When you reintroduce the bully and she is still being mean, then I would invest into some pinless peepers.
 

Nika B

Chirping
Jun 9, 2020
52
56
68
Poor thing.
There are different ways to separate - you can separate the bully or the bullied. In this case with only 3, I think I'd separate the bully. I don't believe they have to see each other because when you reintroduce the one separated will be the newbie to the flock and they will all re-establish pecking order. For now, I would make sure the bullied one doesn't have any wounds and cover those with blue kote if needed.
When you reintroduce the bully and she is still being mean, then I would invest into some pinless peepers.
Thanks for this. Bully is seperate for now- has food, water, enough space to flap/run a little, and a perch for roosting. How long should I keep her separate?

Also, in case pinless peepers do need to be used, do you have any tips? I have a friend who has had chickens for a while and has needed to use pinless peepers but the chickens HATED them and they didn't end up working... would love to avoid that is at all possible.
 

Nika B

Chirping
Jun 9, 2020
52
56
68
Good move to separate the bully.
What does your coop and run look like(pics)?
It's dark where I am right now, but the coop is built inside of an old wagon and the "normal" run is in the back of the wagon. Indoor space is about 16 sq feet, with 3.5 feet high ceilings + plenty of ventilation and two removable nesting boxes (each about 1 cubic foot). Normal run fills up the rest of the wagon, with plenty of room for chickens to flap (and escape bullying) if necessary. Recently, we added a long run that wraps around our garden, I would guess it is about 35 feet long but only wide/tall enough for one (or two very squished) chickens to fit in at once horizontally. One end is attached to the coop and one is closed off. I found PomPom at the closed-off end, one "attack" happened there, and then after luring two more happened in the normal coop before separation. I have since closed off this long part, as PomPom seemed to be getting cornered in it. This might not have been super helpful, so I'll try to get more photos when it isn't pitch black 😆.

Thank you both for your help. Bully has become a little more calm, last I checked has perched for the night and seemed alright. The victim and other chicken are both getting some rest, victim seems much less agitated as well.
 

Crazy Maizie

Crowing
Jul 3, 2020
2,526
4,041
391
Thanks for this. Bully is seperate for now- has food, water, enough space to flap/run a little, and a perch for roosting. How long should I keep her separate?

Also, in case pinless peepers do need to be used, do you have any tips? I have a friend who has had chickens for a while and has needed to use pinless peepers but the chickens HATED them and they didn't end up working... would love to avoid that is at all possible.
Hopefully the separation will work. I think it needs to be a solid week or 2 for it to be a true separation. I've not used pinless peepers, but I would imagine the chickens wouldn't like them. Too bad - don't be a bully. 😉
This has good info: https://bestfarmanimals.com/how-to-identify-and-stop-chicken-flock-bullying/
 

topochico225

Your mom
Premium Feather Member
Dec 27, 2020
2,357
8,281
436
Baton Rouge, LA
I had to euthanize one of my hens after she got a massive infection from a ruptured egg. My remaining two hens were mourning her, but one of them decided she would start crowing, mounting, and generally abusing the other. I had to separate them, and after a week or so of separation and asserting dominance over the freaky hen (she'd run up and get sassy with me so I'd hold her down like I was a roo for a minute or two), everything's back to normal a month later.
 

Nika B

Chirping
Jun 9, 2020
52
56
68
We tried to re-integrate today and yesterday, both times she attacked again, after 1.5 weeks of separation. We will be ordering some pinless peepers, but we are really hoping to not have to cull/rehome the aggressor. Does anyone have any other tips? I hadn't tried the asserting dominance thing that topochico225 talked about, does anyone else have experience with that working?
 

Nika B

Chirping
Jun 9, 2020
52
56
68
We tried to re-integrate today and yesterday, both times she attacked again, after 1.5 weeks of separation. We will be ordering some pinless peepers, but we are really hoping to not have to cull/rehome the aggressor. Does anyone have any other tips? I hadn't tried the asserting dominance thing that topochico225 talked about, does anyone else have experience with that working?
Wait, made a typo. It was 2.5 weeks of separation.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom