chicken social behavior question

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by pemord, Feb 18, 2015.

  1. pemord

    pemord New Egg

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    Jun 21, 2014
    We have 4 almost year old chickens (10 months) who until about 2 months ago got along just fine. Now we seem to have some bullying going on where one chick is shunned by the other three. She is always alone in the coop, sleeps alone, and when we let them roam in the backyard (about 3 hours everyday), she is always by herself. This concerns me as I've always heard that chicks are social animals. Any thoughts/ideas/advice? Thank you, Patty
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    That's just something that happens with pecking orders.

    You might want to put out a second food and water supply to help ensure she gets enough, if you haven't aready done so, because in this situation, the lead hens often keep the one at the bottom of the order away from food and water. Check her for signs she's being armed, like feather pulling from her back end.

    In situations where you can identify a lead hen, it often works well to searate the lead hen from the others for a week, out of sight, then return her to the flock. At that point she will be a stranger to them and will have to re-enter at the bottom of the pecking order.
     
  3. Spangled

    Spangled Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This method works like a charm, alleviating the issue.

    [​IMG], pemord!
     
  4. pemord

    pemord New Egg

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    Jun 21, 2014
    thanks for you advice! Right now, she seems to be getting enough to eat as she is the same size as the others. A few weeks ago we noticed some evidence of feathers being pulled around her head area. But that seems to have gone away. One more question - I have heard that chickens do better in groups of odd numbers. Is that true? If so, would it help our situation to get another chicken?
     
  5. pemord

    pemord New Egg

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    Jun 21, 2014
    thank you, Judy!

    We're still exploring the matter and will keep you all posted.
     
  6. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Forget the odd number fable. Introducing a single chicken would be fraught with its own problems. If you do plan on expanding your flock, it's best to add chickens or chicks in groups of no less than three or four. There is safety in numbers.

    Back to your solitary hen. It would be a good idea to rule out illness or injury because the rest of a flock will sense something "off" about a member and often will gang up on her. For your own peace of mind, give her a good going over.

    If she's okay, then you need to accept that she's the one at the bottom of the pecking order for whatever reason and there isn't anything you can do to change it. But you can be reassured that the pecking order is a very fluid thing, and she probably won't always be at the bottom. I have a little hen who was bullied and picked clean of feathers when she was but a pullet, and now, six years later, she enjoys a rank second from the top.
     
  7. pemord

    pemord New Egg

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    Jun 21, 2014
    First, thank you for your thoughtful and helpful reply. Sorry, it has taken me so long to reply...been very busy lately. Anyway, she has some of an odd thing going on with her feet. The two outer toes (one on each foot) seems turned outward - not pointing straight ahead like the other toes. Could this be something the other chicks are picking up on? I don't know if it is something that could be repaired.

    Either way, she remains a fiesty gal but it is still hard to see ostracized by the other three.

    I am very grateful for this forum and the help it has provided.

    - Patty
     
  8. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    No, a minor imperfection such as you describe isn't something the others are likely to notice. I have a few hens with that problem, and I don't think you can do much after they mature.
     
  9. Spangled

    Spangled Chillin' With My Peeps

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    x 2
     

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