Bullying in Three-Hen Flock: What to do?

Nika B

Chirping
Jun 9, 2020
52
56
68
From earlier post:

Indoor space (coop) 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. The normal run is about 25-30 cubic feet. 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.

I'll try to get some photos. I also just realized that the bullied chicken has quite a bit of dandruff-like stuff coming from her feather roots. I've seen in on other chickens around molting time, but I was wondering if that could be making the bullying worse for any reason?
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
8,642
18,899
726
USA
From earlier post:

Indoor space (coop) 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. The normal run is about 25-30 cubic feet. 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.
That sounds like it should be big enough, except for the skinny parts (but you've already solved that issue by closing it off.)

But as your chickens have shown, just having "enough" space isn't always enough to avoid problems-- each chicken is an individual, and one of yours is causing trouble.

It might help if you can arrange something to let a chicken can get out of sight of another chicken (like a board in the middle of the coop or run, so they can go around both ends but cannot see through in the middle.)

Having multiple feed and water stations can help too.

But if things like that do not solve the problem, I don't have anything else useful to suggest.

The normal run is about 25-30 cubic feet.
How big each direction?

It's common to measure runs in square feet (floor area), and not care how tall they are, as long as the chickens do not bump their heads. Cubic feet measures volume (floor area multiplied by height.)
 

Crazy Maizie

Crowing
Jul 3, 2020
2,953
5,218
411
From earlier post:

Indoor space (coop) 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. The normal run is about 25-30 cubic feet. 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.

I'll try to get some photos. I also just realized that the bullied chicken has quite a bit of dandruff-like stuff coming from her feather roots. I've seen in on other chickens around molting time, but I was wondering if that could be making the bullying worse for any reason?
You want to make sure there are no spaces in which a chicken can get trapped by a bully with no way out. But, it sounds like you already took care of that issue. Is there plenty of obstacles and things to keep the chickens entertained?
I know you aren't newly integrating, but this might help: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/a-cluttered-run.1323792/
Also, from what I've read California whites have a tendency to be top hen which can lead to bullying.
 

Nika B

Chirping
Jun 9, 2020
52
56
68
How big each direction?
the footprint is about 4.5 by 15, but about half of that is much shorter (about a foot and a half tall) than the other half (about four feet tall), which I why I included volume :).
 

Nika B

Chirping
Jun 9, 2020
52
56
68
You want to make sure there are no spaces in which a chicken can get trapped by a bully with no way out. But, it sounds like you already took care of that issue. Is there plenty of obstacles and things to keep the chickens entertained?
I know you aren't newly integrating, but this might help: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/a-cluttered-run.1323792/
Also, from what I've read California whites have a tendency to be top hen which can lead to bullying.
Plenty of obstacles (including things to perch on and "crawl" under/around), two dust baths, and a summer feed and water station which I removed recently due to freezing temperatures. I might put the feed back though, as that seems to be a popular option. I also put in treats (kitchen scraps) once every day or two, so they have that form of enrichment too. Thanks for the help!
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
8,642
18,899
726
USA
the footprint is about 4.5 by 15, but about half of that is much shorter (about a foot and a half tall) than the other half (about four feet tall), which I why I included volume :).
So that's about 4.5 by 4 for the coop?
and 4.5 by 11 for the run?

If the run area is 4.5 feet by 11 feet, that is 45 square feet.
(And the volume would be 67.4 cubic feet if it were all 1.5 feet high, so it actually has a lot more volume than you said, especially since some is taller than that.)

Except for being able to sit up on top of things, chickens don't really use height very well. So volume does not make much difference, which is why people mostly ignore it.

Plenty of obstacles (including things to perch on and "crawl" under/around), two dust baths, and a summer feed and water station which I removed recently due to freezing temperatures. I might put the feed back though, as that seems to be a popular option. I also put in treats (kitchen scraps) once every day or two, so they have that form of enrichment too.
Sounds pretty good to me! Yes, I would put the outdoor feed back, and maybe put the water back in the daytime too but bring it indoors at night.
 

Crazy Maizie

Crowing
Jul 3, 2020
2,953
5,218
411
It's always good to have multiple feed and water stations too.
Have you considered getting rid of the bully? Or (crazier idea) adding a few extra chickens. Either way it would take the pressure off of the one getting bullied.
Since her name is pompom, does she have a crest? Sometimes birds with crests are singled out. For some reason your California has really zoned in on your EE.
I can't remember how long you removed the bully - were you able to totally segregate her or was she still in the run but separate?
 

Nika B

Chirping
Jun 9, 2020
52
56
68
It's always good to have multiple feed and water stations too.
Have you considered getting rid of the bully? Or (crazier idea) adding a few extra chickens. Either way it would take the pressure off of the one getting bullied.
Since her name is pompom, does she have a crest? Sometimes birds with crests are singled out. For some reason your California has really zoned in on your EE.
I can't remember how long you removed the bully - were you able to totally segregate her or was she still in the run but separate?
We have considered getting rid of her, but we would really love not to as they definitely are pets and it would be very sad to re-home (especially because we had to rehome a very sweet accidental roo last year). However, if best for the flock we will (of course). PomPom doesn't have a crest, but does have little cheek tufts (don't know the real name)...

Getting a few other chickens is an interesting idea. We could probably only get one due to ordinances, would that help at all or would it make issues worse?

Also, would having two chickens during winter in really cold temps (think weeks where the temperature will not get over zero...) make them more susceptible to the cold? We have heaters and stuff, but combined body heat seems to be their favorite method of staying warm. We also have a small children's farm near us that would probably be willing to take the chicken for the winter and maybe give her back in the spring (potentially with a pullet). Would that long of a separation do anything more than the two-week separation here would? Would having four help?

Bully was completely separate (and now is again), for about two and a half weeks.

Also, sorry for the previous errors in math, I was going off of rough estimations. I then went out there with a tape measure and looked at the plans, clearly, I had underestimated the coop size ;).
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
18,193
36,912
1,062
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
the footprint is about 4.5 by 15, but about half of that is much shorter (about a foot and a half tall) than the other half (about four feet tall), which I why I included volume :).
Volume in a run is a little less important than floorspace, but then after that, another consideration is width. The reason being, a higher ranked bird or bully bird can take offense as a lower ranked bird crossing through their personal space, and that can cause chases and fights. Birds need about 5-6' to get away from a pursuer to break off the chase - with a narrow run, it's much more difficult for low ranked birds to pass by the others.

Is there anyway you can widen the run?
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom