Chicken Bullying... Again!(?)

silly.tilly.18

Chirping
Jul 1, 2018
24
17
54
Upstate NY
Hi! I have a flock of seven that I believe generally gets along. Except, recently, a few of the younger ones have been picking on one of the older ones. She has a few odd bald-ish spots on her head, but she has also been molting. I'm not sure if this is molting or bullying. She is very skiddish around her sisters that pick on her. I'm not sure if this is just sisterly squabbling or something more. Please help me!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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Hi! I have a flock of seven that I believe generally gets along. Except, recently, a few of the younger ones have been picking on one of the older ones. She has a few odd bald-ish spots on her head, but she has also been molting. I'm not sure if this is molting or bullying. She is very skiddish around her sisters that pick on her. I'm not sure if this is just sisterly squabbling or something more. Please help me!
Yes, how old, in months, are all these birds?

Molting can generate some picking, the molting bird does not feel real great(typical for molting) and those new pin/blood feathers are tasty.
Hopefully you have plenty of space so the molting bird can get some peace,
and are offering some extra protein(animal protein) to all.
 
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Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
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The age of the birds would be very interesting. Typically it is the older birds picking on the younger ones unless they are all mature. I'll add another question, did the younger birds just start laying? Often that's when a pullet forces her way into the pecking order so you may be seeing some adjustment to the pecking order.

Aart seems to have had a typo. Molting birds sometimes do NOT feel that well. Sometimes chickens can be real bullies and like to pick on the weak. So her attitude might have something to do with it. But you make it sound like they were picking on her before the molt started so that may not have anything to do with it. I've never had one plucking those bloody pin feathers so I don't consider that to be that regular an occurrence, although I believe people when they say they have seen that.

I'll also repeat the comment about space. I find the tighter they are housed the more likely I am to have behavioral issues.

When they molt the feathers fall out in a specific order, starting around the head area. Some chickens are fast molters, some slow molters. That has nothing to do directly with how fast they grow back, it's about how fast they fall out. A fast molter can look pretty ragged, often you cannot really tell a slow molter is molting just by looking at her. It is that gradual.

I don't know what is going on with those birds. To me it sounds like she is just molting but your implication that the younger birds regularly pick on her anyway before the molt raises some flags. Could you tell us a bit more of that aspect of this? Please include ages and room.
 
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silly.tilly.18

Chirping
Jul 1, 2018
24
17
54
Upstate NY
The molting one is 20 months old and the ones picking on her are 9 months old. They live in at least a 20 feet by 15 feet space, with a 6 by 4 coop. They have plenty of space outdoors but a lot of the picking on happens at night when I go to put them to bed. I am already aware that their coop space is a bit small, but I don't have another option for them if they all want to be together and they usually get along fine. At night some of them will just peck at her (sometimes a lot and I have to separate them), but last night was the worst I have ever seen.
 
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aart

Chicken Juggler!
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Nov 27, 2012
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The molting one is 20 months old and the ones picking on her are 9 months old. They live in at least a 20 feet by 15 feet space, with a 6 by 4 coop. They have plenty of space outdoors but a lot of the picking on happens at night when I go to put them to bed at night. I am already aware that their coop space is a bit small, but I don't have another option for them if they all want to be together and they usually get along fine. At night some of them will just peck at her (sometimes a lot and I have to separate them), but last night was the worst I have ever seen.
Hopefully your run space is weather and predator proof.....or it's going to be a really long winter. Battles that start in the coop can be carried on outside no matter how much outside space they have.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,282
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Southeast Louisiana
At night on the roosts. That's when mine can be the most brutal to each other. How much roost space do you have in there and how is it arranged. You are right that 4x6 is small enough to limit your options but you have to work with what you have. Can you possibly fit another roost in there separated a bit horizontally from the main roost and even a tad lower to give her a safe place to that is far enough away the bullies cannot get to her too easily? I don't know that it will work but maybe.
 

silly.tilly.18

Chirping
Jul 1, 2018
24
17
54
Upstate NY
At night on the roosts. That's when mine can be the most brutal to each other. How much roost space do you have in there and how is it arranged. You are right that 4x6 is small enough to limit your options but you have to work with what you have. Can you possibly fit another roost in there separated a bit horizontally from the main roost and even a tad lower to give her a safe place to that is far enough away the bullies cannot get to her too easily? I don't know that it will work but maybe.

In my coop there are two roosting bars that are 4 feet long, one is slighter higher up than the other. On the other side are the nesting boxes, and right in front of the nesting boxes there are roosting bars about 3 feet long. There are two of these. Sometimes I find her in a nesting box at night, but I usually remove her because I want her to roost. Should I just move her to the roosting bars in front of the nesting boxes, or continue to move her to the "main" roosting bars?

There isn't technically a run because the coop is inside of the outdoor space. It is predator proof. We also have a smaller coop that three of my chickens lived in when it was just them. It usually is open to then inside the large enclosure. It has an indoor space, and it's where we kept the younger batch for the first couple of weeks after they came home to familiarize them with the older ones. This small coop could potentially be another space for them to sleep in. Just an idea - - would it be a good idea to try to get the older three (who get along) to live/sleep in the smaller coop, even if just for the winter? This would allow for the older girls to have their own space together, but it would probably also separate the age groups.

Thank you for these questions and suggestions!
 

MANNA-PRO

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