Bullying On The Roost At Night

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Marthamae21, Dec 4, 2015.

  1. Marthamae21

    Marthamae21 Out Of The Brooder

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    I do understand that chickens jockey for space at night, but what I'm going to describe goes a bit toward the savage.

    I have a Barred Rock named Janie who is a fairly nice chicken, pretty high up in the pecking order, in good health and feather. She doesn't bully the other hens unduly during the day, but once on the roost at night and she will be merciless about pecking whomever is next to her (except, of course, Russell Crow the rooster). Three of my hens have begun to sleep in the next boxes, and it's just when I saw her going after a fourth bird tonight that I put together the nest box behavior with her pecking. They are hiding from HER!! Okay, that may seem a bit slow on my part I know, but there it is. This has been going on for a few weeks, and I have not been diligent about nest box exclusion. However, this needs to change.

    A couple facts: I have nine birds and one rooster. The coop is 8X12, with the roosts 8 feet across the short wall. They are about 14 and 17 inches off the floor respectively. The roost bars are 6 inches apart. Two of the hens are Brahmas and fairly husky.

    It seems to me that ought to be enough space for this ol' gal. I had the thought that a third roost bar, a bit higher than the others and small enough for her and maybe Russell might get her to stop this behavior. I had an arrangement like that before the roost bullying started, though I don't remember if she was reliably on it with him (he definitely went to it).

    Has anyone had to solve this kind of problem? What did you do? Any ideas welcome, and thanks so much.
     
  2. Hholly

    Hholly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Could you add a roost bar that is as high as the other one, but different? Maybe they could work things out with more, equal space. Good luck.
     
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    I make sure there are multiple roosts all of different places and heights, some actually put dividers on the roosts, I think there's always roost squabbling among younger birds, so I think you need to redesign your roosts or add more.
     
  4. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    If its easier to increase the distance between the existing roosts, then that might do the trick (i.e. so they a hen on one roost is beyond pecking distance of those on the other).

    CT
     
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    I solved this problem years ago by installing heavy cloth curtain dividers at intervals on the main perch. When a squabble occurs, I flip the curtain down between the bully and the victim. The rest of the time, the curtain is held up out of the way by a hook and O-ring.

    Besides that, I have multiple perches to give the chickens variety and choices should they encounter conflict at roosting time. Chickens can be moody like us humans, and sometimes they take out their fits on lower ranking ones. If you have enough space and roosting perches, victims of another chicken's bad mood can choose another spot to roost, thereby keeping the peace.
     
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Increase distance between roost bars so that the top roost birds cannot reach the next level down. Roosts too close together don't allow for a "top" position when they are within reach of one another. Even when doing that adjustment, it's going to take some time for the lower birds to find out the second roost is now safe, so give it time. Meanwhile maybe you can isolate that top hen for a few days in a cage of some kind to give the other birds a confidence boost?

    By adding distance between the two roosts, you prevent the top hen from descending to, or reaching down towards, the lower roost to run off the younger birds without the danger of losing her roost spot on the top rung.

    ETA: If I notice pullets that still won't roosts on the roosts when there is plenty of room and distance between them, I usually get rid of or kill those pullets rather than let them sleep in the nests. I've found that birds that won't fight for the right to roosts aren't going to do well in my flock anyway....I free range all the time and I also do broody hatches, so I need hens with a survival instinct and calm, but assertive, personalities to fit into my kind of flock. In other words, no wimpy birds.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2015

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