Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by skullgrrrl, Dec 28, 2015.

  1. skullgrrrl

    skullgrrrl Songster

    Sep 10, 2012
    Today I noticed several members of my flock (including the roo and cockerel) bullying one hen. I've had this hen for 2 years with no problems. My flock is generally harmonious. This didn't seem like a small scuffle - every time I moved one aggressor away another one either tried to peck her or puffed up its chest at her.

    She has been healthy, eating and laying (right now she's taking a break as she's just finished a molt), sleeping and hanging out with the rest of the flock. Are the other birds sensing an injury or illness that I can't detect?

    I've got her in separate quarters. Should I keep her there while I'm monitoring what's going on and if she seems healthy try to integrate her back into the flock?

  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockwit Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    You may wish to wait until she is in full health before bringing her back to the flock but at the same time isolating the aggressors for a week or so. That may give her a chance of finding her feet.

    Good luck
  3. skullgrrrl

    skullgrrrl Songster

    Sep 10, 2012
    Couple of problems with that: first, it wasn't one or two aggressors but more than half a dozen in a flock of 20. It didn't seem like a scuffle between a couple of birds that blows over but something more serious.

    Second, I have segregated her - she's in a run within the larger pen so everyone can see each other. She'll have a separate place to sleep tonight. I thought she was healthy. I'm wondering if the bullying is indicative of something the other birds can sense about potential ill health or injury that I can't.
  4. If the hen being picked on has recently fallen in the pecking order then every hen in the flock may take her on in an attempt to rise in the pecking order themselves. This is a normal part of being a chicken. If there is enough room this is not a problem. If the hens are over crowded it can become a problem.

    Chickens are very attuned to weakness in a flock mate and they do not tolerate weakness well.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2015

  5. skullgrrrl

    skullgrrrl Songster

    Sep 10, 2012
    I have 18 pullets and hens, 1 roo & 1 cockerel. Their coop is @65 sq ft with 5 nestboxes and lots of roost bar space. The coop is housed within a 900 sq ft fenced pen- so I don't think space is an option.

    I've had this particular hen for 2 yrs - she is not at the bottom of the pecking order. My flock has always been pretty easy going - no pecking issues - so I'm wondering why it has just started and with this hen. I think if I hadn't intervened she might have gotten hurt.

    I have had new and sick chickens before and they have never been targets of bullying. Why now? And how long do I have to keep her separated before I can re-introduce her without worrying that behaviour might continue?
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    What is your climate?
    Putting your location in your profile can help folks give better answers/suggestions.

    A 65 sqft coop for 18 birds is tight quarters......even with a large run.

    How much lineal feet of roost do you have?

    How old are your pullets and cockerel?

    Pecking orders do change...the molt and/or the 2 males could be complicating the process.
  7. skullgrrrl

    skullgrrrl Songster

    Sep 10, 2012
    hi golden feather

    i have at least 25 lineal ft of roost bar - its not all occupied.

    i have 5 pullets born in the spring, 2 pullets and the cockerel were born in august. the roo is just over 2 (he's a bantam, the cockerel and the girls are standards) - never had an issue with him and other cockerels. the 11 hens range in age from just over a year to almost 3 yrs old. the hen that is being bullied will be 3 in the spring, i've had her 2 yrs.

    everyone is now through their molt.

    i live in the pacific northwest - very rarely gets cold/snowy - rain is our usual winter. they are outside the coop most of the day.


  8. skullgrrrl

    skullgrrrl Songster

    Sep 10, 2012
    golden feather,

    i forgot i also have 3 bantam pullets born in the spring - they are included in the 20 total.
  9. junebuggena

    junebuggena Crowing

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    You are short on coop space by about 23 sq feet, and that's if they are only ever in the coop at night. Your coop is probably too crowded with all of the young birds that you added over this past year.

  10. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Crowing

    Ditto. Even if birds are out all day they still have to roost and co-exist at night. Stress from crowding and roosting scuffles at night can easily carry over into the daytime and create bigger problems. My coops are exactly 65 square feet and I've never had more then 8 birds per coop. That is over kill as far as the so called minimum space requirements but I've also never had any pecking problems in my flock.

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