Chickens are picking on one chicken.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Chicken Boy 101, Dec 13, 2017.

  1. Chicken Boy 101

    Chicken Boy 101 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2017
    North Dakota
    So all of my chickens pick on one I've had her for about 2 months and they still pick on her please help.
  2. Patinas

    Patinas Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 22, 2017
    Not a lot of background on your chicken that is being picked on so not sure I'm any help to your specific situation.

    I can tell you that hens move around in the pecking order. My hen shown in my avatar recently went broody and I didn't break her of it until almost two weeks in. I noticed that her being broody and not interacting with the flock had lowered her in the pecking order when she rejoined the flock.

    Now she's going through a full on molt and she now seems to be the lowest in the pecking order whereas she used to be #2. She looks awful so the other hens seem to think they have a license to pick on her. Poor thing gets run off from the treats and sometimes some of them will peck at her just because they can.

    She seems really shy while she's molting and tries to be by herself. I imagine it's because of loss of clout in the flock and because I've read the incoming pin feathers are painful.

    My point is, there could be lots of reasons your hen is getting picked on. If it's really bad to the point they are causing bleeding injuries, you'll need to separate her from them until she's healed and then slowly try and reintroduce her. At least, that would be how I would handle the situation if the aggression is at that level.

    You could also try removing the main offender and see if the others start backing off picking on her and then reintroduce the main offender. I've read posts on here saying it can help to remove the most aggressive hen and give her a time out for a couple days and see if that breaks the aggression.

    Good luck!
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
  4. WintersWhisper

    WintersWhisper Just Hatched

    Apr 16, 2017
    Hello. You made sense in your reply to chicken boy so I thought I’d ask you for advice myself. Not sure how this is done as I’ve never posted before so here goes.
    I had 5 hens. 3 reds and 2 speckled black and white. The black and white hens were named Alpha and Beta. Beta was the #1 in the hen house. A couple weeks ago a raccoon took his time unwinding the wire in a corner of our chicken yard and got in. I didn’t get there in time and Alpha was killed before I could drag the coon out. Alpha and Beta were always together. Beta seems to have slipped into a ‘depression’. She’s stopped laying eggs and is losing feathers. She won’t sleep with the other chickens and I’m not sure if she’s losing feathers around her neck because she’s molting or if it’s because the other 3 are picking on her. There’s no blood. Just lost feathers. Looking at what happened from a human perspective, Beta lost her best friend and seems lost and depressed, but that may not be the case. Any advice as to what I should be watching for or what I should do? Breaking my heart seeing her like this but if she’s just molting and the loss of Alpha has nothing to do with it then I need not worry. Love my lil girls. Thanks. WintersWhisper
  5. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs I Wanna Be A Cowboy Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I have seen chickens get depressed when they lose a friend. It can last days or even months. She will probably hang mostly by herself. She may or may not get closer to the others down the road.

    She could be molting, how old is she?
  6. Patinas

    Patinas Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 22, 2017
    @WintersWhisper Hi and welcome to BYC!

    I'm so sorry to hear that you lost Alpha to a raccoon. :( Horrible experience to go through for you and flock!

    As for Beta a few things to consider:

    1. As @oldhenlikesdogs said, I completely agree it is possible for hens to get depressed.

    2. Since Alpha was killed by a raccoon, that experience can terrify the rest of the flock and Beta may be totally stressed out from the event. Stressed chickens will tend to stay by themselves. She may just need time to settle down.

    3. You said she's losing feathers. You didn't say how old she is but one sure way to tell if it is molting and not feather picking or external pests, is you should see new pin feathers coming in. Check her over for external pests and if you see none, she's probably just molting. I have some that have only lost the feathers on their head and neck due to molting rather than a full on molt. If she's being pecked you would most likely see sores/scabs where the skin is getting broken.

    4. If she is molting, it is perfectly normal for hens to stop laying completely. Molting and growing new feathers means consumed protein is going to feather growth, not egg production.

    5. Also, less daylight will certainly lead to much less egg production or in many cases, they will just stop laying at all. They need daylight to produce eggs.

    So what to do? Just keep a close eye on her and make sure she is eating and drinking enough and not getting pecked. You can try giving her water with some electrolytes in it that might help pep her up. For molting, give her extra protein which can be provided by giving her starter/grower feed which has a higher protein content or give her a scrambled egg or meal worms or BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds). Chickens are pretty good at knowing what they need and when they need it so as long as she's eating and drinking, she just may need some time.

    Any loss in a flock can change the pecking order and the flock needs time to sort that out amongst themselves. If Beta is not acting normal she could get knocked down in the pecking order and not be #1 anymore. It happens.

    I hope Beta perks up! I would not be overly concerned at this point that she's not laying. Given the shock of the attack, losing her buddy, less daylight and possibly molting, it makes total sense she's stopped laying for the time being. Be more concerned that she's eating, drinking and not getting pecked.
    oldhenlikesdogs likes this.
  7. WintersWhisper

    WintersWhisper Just Hatched

    Apr 16, 2017
    Thank you so much. Beta is almost 2 yrs old. We thought she might be molting however they all molted together last time and the other 3 don’t seem to be at this time. We felt relieved reading what you said. We started giving her water with electrolytes yesterday and she is eating and drinking as much as the trips (our 3 red hens)are. We got all of them at same time as tiny chicks. They get meal worms as treats and they love them. My husband crawls around on his hands and knees (at 67 yrs old this is a real amazing thing to see lol) and turns over rocks to help them find live bugs and worms also. They get spinach and apples and other nourishing things too, but we are careful to make sure they get their protein meal. So, today we looked closer at Betas neck and she does have those lil feathers coming in and we see no evidence of being picked on. Reading what you and others said here definitely eased the stress that both my husband and I was feeling. We love our lil girls and was feeling a bit helpless and very concerned. We will continue to give her the support and the ‘space’ she needs to heal. Thank you so very much everyone.
    Patinas likes this.
  8. dogkahuna

    dogkahuna Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 11, 2015
    Southworth, WA
    Do you have the capability of quarantining the afflicted hen? It's worked wonders for one of my girls in the same situation. Three weeks later and she was reintroduced to the flock with no more bullying of her.
  9. Patinas

    Patinas Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 22, 2017
    @WintersWhisper That's a great sign that she's eating and drinking! I would at this point just give her time to settle down. Her stress level will drop given time.

    I'm glad I could help relive your fears over her well being. I believe chickens are pretty darn smart and I trust they know what they need and when they need it. Just keep and eye on her to make sure she continues to eat and drink and that her overall appearance is good. You're doing great!!

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