Chicken Pecking Order that has gotten out of hand...

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Tutu of 5, Jan 31, 2015.

  1. Tutu of 5

    Tutu of 5 Out Of The Brooder

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    I would appreciate some advice.

    I have 2 EE's and 1 Plymouth Rock hen who are being pecked badly by one of my RIR girls. I only have 6 hens, they are 7 months old, and the culprit, aptly named "Bossy", is literally out for blood.

    I thought Bossy was pecking the other hens because they were confined to too small an area. I originally kept the girls in a 12X12 run with a 10X10 coop attached to that. I have many hawks around, hence their confinement. Now, I have started letting the girls roam the 1 acre property, thinking that maybe this would help. But, last night, I went to put their predator proof gate up after dusk I found that Bossy had pecked my PR baby "Braveheart's" foot to the point of heavy bleeding. Now both of Braveheart's feet have been attacked this week.

    Also, this morning, I found an EE's undeveloped egg (with a very soft shell) at the bottom of the roost. I saw Bossy picking on my little EE "Baby" last night in the coop while I was doctoring on Braveheart's foot. And poor Baby was all hunched into herself and Bossy would even seek her out to peck her when I moved Baby to a different perch.

    I've taken to watching the girls closely, to make sure that I have the right RIR, as both of them think they are top hen, and now I am sure Bossy is the one causing the damage. She also has pecked poor Baby to the point of picking most of her face feathers off. (I worry about her eyes getting pecked.)

    My question's are, "Is this kind of pecking normal, while the girls are establishing their pecking order?" and "Is it a good idea to separate Bossy from the rest of the girls, especially at night?"

    I bought a 2X2 hutch to use as a hospital area, if I ever need one. Does it sound reasonable to use this as a "time out" area for Bossy when she misbehaves?

    I appreciate any advice you can give to me. This is my first experience as a mother to hens.
     
  2. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    No, this is not normal pecking order behavior and I would absolutely pull out that aggressive hen. Keep her out for a week at least and see how things go with the rest of the flock. It is possible this started as a result of not having enough space in the run or it may be she's just an aggressive bird no matter what you do. I've had a few hatchery RIR's that have been quite aggressive. Try giving her a long time out and see if she has an attitude adjustment. You can also try pinless peepers and see if that slows her down some. If those things don't work I'd cull her or rehome her with full disclosure about her temperament. It's just not worth it to have a bird in the flock like that attacking and stressing all the others.
     
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  3. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    Time for Bossy to serve some time in chicken jail. I would keep her there for several days. That is not normal behavior. If she does not change her attitude after a time out then you should consider culling or rehoming her (with full disclosure of her aggressive tendencies). The rest of your flock should not have to put up with that kind of harrassment.
     
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  4. Tutu of 5

    Tutu of 5 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the responses. So far....so GREAT!

    I followed your advice and my RIR, Bossy, is in prison. The "hospital pen" I bought fits directly under one of my nesting boxes (and is still off the ground), so she gets visited by the rest of the girls, but is definitely unable to peck anyone now. She was crowing non-stop this morning for 2 hours at one point when she could see the other girls roaming around outside of their pen area, enjoying the beautiful 75 degree day amongst the flowers and trees.

    [​IMG] EE: Goldy, RIR: Kea, PRs: Grabby and Braveheart.

    Poetic justice happened when my EE, "Baby", the hen Bossy was previously beating up on, flew up to the nest box above Bossy's jail and gave me a beautiful egg. First egg Baby has laid in 4 days. She was giving me one every day since she started laying 2 months ago, until she started getting pecked by Bossy.

    [​IMG] Baby laying above Bossy's jailcoop.


    No blood stains and no new wounds on my PR, Braveheart, or any other hen this morning too.I didn't know the hen house and yard could be so peaceful.

    Again, Mahalo for the advice. You hen Masters sure know your stuff.
     
  5. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    Can you post a better picture of Bossy? If they are only 7 months old, and "she" is crowing, she is a HE. Pullets that age do not crow.
     
  6. JensChickies

    JensChickies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You can try pinless peepers. They worked well for my mean hen. There is also "no peck" ointment you can get from the feed stores incase if she draws blood again in another hen.

    If she is crowing,....she might be a he. ;)
     
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  7. Tutu of 5

    Tutu of 5 Out Of The Brooder

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    Is the "no peck" ointment the ointment I read about that puts coloration on the aggressive hen, so you can know which one is doing the pecking? Or does it taste bad or just what? Thanks for the info!
     
  8. Amina

    Amina Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This separation might work better if you keep her out of sight of the flock. The goal here is for everyone to think that Bossy is no longer part of the flock. You don't want her to be giving the rest of the flock dirty looks and threatening or actually trying (even if she fails) to peck through the wire. She needs to completely lose her place in the pecking order.
     
  9. Tutu of 5

    Tutu of 5 Out Of The Brooder

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    OK...mahalo! I have had her in an area where she doesn't get that much interaction except at night, when the girls go to roost. Is that all right or should I move her to a part of my lanai where she can't even see them, or them her?
     
  10. Amina

    Amina Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If it's going to be a lot of trouble to move her away from the others, you could see how she does after a week of in-coop jail. But don't be surprised if it's not enough to fix the problem. In that case, I would give her a week on your lanai before you give up and sell her.
     

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