Cast of Mean Girls in my coop

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Mick or Mick, Nov 7, 2016.

  1. Mick or Mick

    Mick or Mick Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 3, 2015
    I have three hens and until molt this Fall they have gotten along fine. Two are 2.5 years old and the third is 1.5. This was the first year the younger one molted and it seems to have changed the dynamic in the flock.

    During the molt she seemed pretty miserable but I wasn't concerned. I figured I was just reading human emotions into the situation. However, they are all finished molting and she still seems pretty hangdog. In fact for the last few nights she's been getting kicked out the of the coop at dusk - twice trying to sleep in the tree above the coop rather than face the other two hens.

    When she does make it in the coop before the door closes, there's always a kerfuffle with pecking and clucking and wings flapping. She ends up sleeping in the nesting box rather than the perch.

    I have two perches, one higher than the other - ladder style. They are both long enough for all three to sleep together, which they have done for over a year. Now the little one isn't allowed up there.

    My question is this; did the molt change something in the pecking order? Is this possible?
     
  2. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Hi there Mick or Mick

    My flock are also mixed age, two just under 4 years, one just under 3 years, one 2.5 year old and one 1.5 year old.

    Moulting, broodiness and hormones can cause them to become antsy and pick on each other at times but on the whole, they get along fine.

    However, just in the last couple of weeks, for no apparent reason, the 1.5 year old has decided that she does not want to be bottom of the order any more and managed to work her way up by picking on and demoting the just under 3 year old. However, the 2.5 year old did not submit so easily and there was a lot of chest bumping, raised hackles and scrapping.

    Eventually, she gave up but now, the 1.5 year old is not content with her submission and continues to pick on her but does not pick on the previously dominated 3 year old.

    She has kept her distance from the flock for a while and spent more time on the deck with her human dad than with the flock but just in the last couple of days she has gone back to spending more time with the flock. The youngster still chases her off occasionally but things have settled down a little now. We do intervene with the occasional verbal scalding [which they respond to] or gentle squirt with a water pistol when needed.

    At roost time, they all roost together like nothing has happened.

    All very confusing I know, but basically it goes to show that even the friendliest flock can go through changes.

    My advice, give them lots of room and unless blood is drawn, leave them to it, they should work it out.

    Having said that, chickens are great at hiding illness from us but not their flock mates who will exploit it. Keep a close eye on the one that is being bullied for any health issues. They may also just be taking advantage of the fact that she had a mopey moult.

    PS. There is always a kerfuffle here at bed time, lots of pushing and shoving and pecking etc, every night until they settle.
     
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