Chicken Bullying

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Lintltj5, Nov 1, 2016.

  1. Lintltj5

    Lintltj5 Just Hatched

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    I need some help finding a solution to a problem that has started among my chickens. I have 4 hens and 3 of them have singled out 1 to be the lowest on the pecking order. She gets chased from the food until the others have eaten, etc. I know this is normal.
    I came out to let them out one morning and I noticed that this particular hen was missing most of the feathers on the top of her head. I read that this can happen, and began watching them throughout the day. The 3 other chickens did not act aggressively toward her at all all day. They treat her normally and don't do anything to hurt her.
    This went on for a few days, until one night when I went to lock up the coop, I noticed that one of the hens, the alpha, who has always been skittish, got nervous that I lifted the lid to the coop to straighten things up and began pecking the heck out of the poor girls head. I immediately pushed her away and thought she must be the culprit who's doing ripping out the weaker ones feathers while in the coop.
    A couple of days later, I wasn't able to let the hens out at the normal time. I was about an hour late. I normally let them out to feed about 7:15-7:30am. When I opened the coop the bullied hen had her comb bloodied and the back of her head was a bloody mess. It had never been that bad before. I cleaned up the injured hen, and at night seperated her until she healed. She's fine now,, but still low hen on the totem pole.
    This morning I got out to the coop about 30 minutes "late" and lo and behold, her feathers are all ripped up again.
    I've noticed when I get out there in the morning that one of the chickens especially, is going nut, frantically pacing back and forth trying to get out. I've provided plenty of room in the coop. Im starting to wonder if it's this hen, and not the alpha that is just ancy and takes it out on the one hen if she's not let out on time. This hen has begun even pecking the alpha if she gets too close to her at night in the coop. The only two times this has happened is when I've been late.
    Any ideas beside the obvious, "don't be late" regarding what I should do?
    They eat well, have plenty of space, free range. It's only in the morning if I don't let them out "on time". I also noticed that the 3 hens did not do this to one another when the injured one was seperated from them in the mornings.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2016
  2. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Welcome To BYC!

    Can you post some photos of your coop/run and chickens?
    How large (square feet) is your coop, how is your roosting space set up? (how many feet?)
    How old are your chickens?
    What type of food/treats do you feed?

    To be honest it does sound like space in the coop may be your biggest problem. If you they are picking on her while roosting and you have one pacing frantically to be let out in the mornings, then I would suspect room is your biggest problem.

    You can try adding another roosting bar inside. Adding another feed station helps with the being chased outside.
     
  3. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Good questions and recommendations from @Wyorp Rock . Personally, I would separate the aggressor for a couple of weeks and keep her as far from the coop and flock as possible. Hopefully, when she is returned, she will assume a less dominant rung in the pecking order. I similarly feel that coop / roost space is the likely issue, but separating the nutcase will give you (and the victim) some breathing space to re-assess things. Guess an automatic pop door may be an idea too?
     
  4. Lintltj5

    Lintltj5 Just Hatched

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    My coop is 18ft sq. When I built it I read that 4sq ft of space should be given per bird in the coop. I built it larger to give more room.
    They have a huge run of over 200 sq feet and they free range over the yard.
    I have a roosting bar set up that goes across the length of the coop, 5ft long.
    My birds are a little over a year old and they eat organic pellets, and mixtures of treats every couple of days.

    I really don't think the coop is too small. It's only the one bird that acts like a nutcase in the morning and that I think is the one pecking the other hen. I've seen two of them doing it. The other birds aren't pacing frantically and trying to get out. I was leaning towards separating her from the others and seeing how they did when she's not in the coop going crazy in the morning. It's a shame bc the injured hen just grew all its feathers back and now is bald again after this morning.
     
  5. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    All seems fine with your coop. Do you think you could add another roost? It can all be a bit of trial and error. I have a hen that is so noisey it's beyond annoying - i open the pop door before dawn (its not a slow process for daylight to come, where i live) just so she can get out of the coop. Theres no aggression but boy, is she loud.
     
  6. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Have they been in this coop space for a whole year no problems?

    New behavior like your describing in an established flock could be a number of things. Molting can cause the to be a little more irritated than usual. Check them over for any signs of lice/mites to make sure there is nothing like that bothering them.

    Also check your hen over well that is being picked on. Sometimes flock members will be aggressive toward a sick member.

    Separating the aggressor is a good idea if you find no other reason for this behavior. As suggested by @CTKen adding another roosting bar may be helpful as well.

    Keep us posted.
     

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