Chicken Bully

malkered

Chirping
May 16, 2015
216
6
51
Brighton, United Kingdom
I recently rescued a mistreated red hen who I believe is around 6-8 months old.
I bought a 17 week old Amber hybrid as company for her and the two of them very quickly got on well.
I then heard about a 14000 strong flock from a free range egg farm which, at 18 months old were due to go for slaughter.
I rescued two of these birds (I'm not sure what breed they are) and put them in with the original two hens.
They live in an 8 foot by 4 foot coop with a 6 foot x 6 foot outside enclosure.
The new birds have settled in and have continued to lay.
One of the new birds seems to have fitted in with the others but the other one pecks at the other three but totally bullies the red hen who is the biggest bird but the most placid. When she is sat on her perch the bully sits right next to her and pecks at her.

I rescued these birds as I couldn't bear to let them be slaughtered but I'm not happy that our lovely red hen is being attacked in her own home.

Any ideas?
 

Judy

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
34,024
580
448
South Georgia
Your coop is big enough, but the outdoor enclosure a little small. Chickens will quickly turn on each other if they feel crowded. Obviously, these birds have lead a stressful life already.

10 sq ft per bird outdoors is considered the minimum neeeded to prevent pecking and even cannibalism. The more space you can give them, the better.

Good luck!
 

malkered

Chirping
May 16, 2015
216
6
51
Brighton, United Kingdom
Thanks for your reply.

I have just remeasured my coop and enclosure and realised that I got my measurements wrong,

The coop is 8 feet by 6 feet and the outside enclosure is 6 feet by 7.5 feet.

At dusk the girls are in the coop and after dawn I open the coop so that they have run of the coop and the enclosure. there is natural light in the coop.

I was hoping to add another hen as I have been led to believe that flocks are better if there is an odd number of hens.

By my reckoning they have 47 square feet coop space and 45 square feet of outside space, a total of 92 square feet.

(I cant free range them totally in the garden as there are 3 local foxes)

is this not enough space for 5 hens?
 

Spartan22

Crowing
Sep 2, 2014
3,672
3,513
452
NE Ohio
Some birds can just be pure mean, I got 10 layers with 100 sq ft of coop 10' peak and 160 sq ft of enclosed run and added extra 100 sq ft more run just 2 days ago. The bullied ones remained bullied and mean one remain plain nasty that I have to separate them. I live in a nice allotment that I cannot free range them nor put some mad max looking backyard obstacle for them.

It sad to say it's similar to people or worst some are plain mean some are naturally super nice. I got grade school kids that are actually going thru this being bullied cause I taught them to be respectful of others (some kids mistaken it for weakness).
 

Akrnaf2

The educated Rhino
6 Years
Jul 5, 2014
16,825
15,045
732
Center of Israel
Some birds can just be pure mean, I got 10 layers with 100 sq ft of coop 10' peak and 160 sq ft of enclosed run and added extra 100 sq ft more run just 2 days ago. The bullied ones remained bullied and mean one remain plain nasty that I have to separate them. I live in a nice allotment that I cannot free range them nor put some mad max looking backyard obstacle for them.

It sad to say it's similar to people or worst some are plain mean some are naturally super nice. I got grade school kids that are actually going thru this being bullied cause I taught them to be respectful of others (some kids mistaken it for weakness).

In my world:
Mean=nice
Mean chicken=nice chicken soup!
 

Judy

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
34,024
580
448
South Georgia
is this not enough space for 5 hens?

You are correct that this nearly meets the minimum for outside, which would be 50 sq ft. Of course, these numbers are arbitrary, and chickens always appreciate a good deal more than this. Larger areas also make cleaning and general upkeep simpler. But if you don't have the space, so be it.

You can do things to "enrich" their space, like adding items to jump up on, hide under, or additional roosts. People add small stuffed animals, small mirrors designed for bird cages, hanging foodstuffs such as a cabbage or a flock block -- just all sorts of stuff. To an extent, this can ease their sense of being in a small space. I realize that these girls probably were kept in much smaller spaces; it's hard to say whether they feel reief at the new room or urges to be freer. Even moving things about every day or few days gives enrichment, because they are so sensitive to change.

Another thought is protein, especially animal sourced protein. Probably they are accustomes to a diet without a lot of it. You can five a bit of game bird feed as treat or addition to the regular feed to increase the vegetable protein. If you can find a feed with fish meal or other animal protein in it, that would be good. Some people grow their own mealworms. You can even install one of those bug zapper machines and let the chickens have the victims, though those things can also draw snakes. A carcass from your dinner table would be gretly appreciated. And so forth. I occasionally purchase a can of canned mackerel for them. Avoid much dairy as birds do not have lactase, so are are lactose intolerant.

Good luck!
 

Akrnaf2

The educated Rhino
6 Years
Jul 5, 2014
16,825
15,045
732
Center of Israel
You are correct that this nearly meets the minimum for outside, which would be 50 sq ft.  Of course, these numbers are arbitrary, and chickens always appreciate a good deal more than this.  Larger areas also make cleaning and general upkeep simpler.  But if you don't have the space, so be it.

You can do things to "enrich" their space, like adding items to jump up on, hide under, or additional roosts.  People add small stuffed animals, small mirrors designed for bird cages, hanging foodstuffs such as a cabbage or a flock block -- just all sorts of stuff.  To an extent, this can ease their sense of being in a small space.  I realize that these girls probably were kept in much smaller spaces; it's hard to say whether they feel reief at the new room or urges to be freer.  Even moving things about every day or few days gives enrichment, because they are so sensitive to change.

Another thought is protein, especially animal sourced protein.  Probably they are accustomes to a diet without a lot of it.  You can five a bit of game bird feed as treat or addition to the regular feed to increase the vegetable protein.  If you can find a feed with fish meal or other animal protein in it, that would be good.  Some people grow their own mealworms.  You can even install one of those bug zapper machines and let the chickens have the victims, though those things can also draw snakes.  A carcass from your dinner table would be gretly appreciated.  And so forth.  I occasionally purchase a can of canned mackerel for them.  Avoid much dairy as birds do not have lactase, so are are lactose intolerant.

Good luck!

X2
Some more sources for animal protein:
Shredded cheese,crashed boiled egg, tuna fish,cat food(not dog!) fish pellet food,and so on!
 

k magnuson

In the Brooder
5 Years
Jul 29, 2014
19
8
24
Sometimes chickens peck at other chickens because their bored. So maybe if you got the chickens something interesting to peck at like a chicken treat block they will mostly stop pecking at each other, and letting them out of their coop once a day helps to stop pecking too.
 

malkered

Chirping
May 16, 2015
216
6
51
Brighton, United Kingdom
Thank you all for your replies and your helpful advice.

I suppose that I was naive enough to think that because the last two hens were added to the original two that they would fit in below them but I guess that as they are older than the others and that they came together that I shouldn't be surprised that they try to exert some kind of authority.

Just my luck that out of a choice of 13000 hens to rescue I end up with the bully!

The red hen and the young Amber never peck each other and spend most of their time together, the other ex farm hen leaves them alone and just gets on with it. The bullying hen seems to actively attack the red hen, she will join her on her perch, sit right next to her and peck at her . The red hen just complains vocally and looks very upset. I'm not sure if it's the right thing to do but when she's done it in front of me I've removed the bully from the perch and put her on the floor.
 

MANNA-PRO

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