Desperately need help/assurance with pecking order anxiety!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by AWoodward, Aug 17, 2016.

  1. AWoodward

    AWoodward New Egg

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    Mar 28, 2014
    Choctaw, OK
    I have a long tale to tell, but I'll try to keep it to the salient points:

    Had three chickens who grew up together, had zero problems with pecking/fighting/etc.
    Two of the chickens were taken in the night, still have no idea what it was but have had no more problems with mystery animal.
    Meanwhile, had two new chicks raising in the garage, happy as larks.
    Decided I needed two layers to replace the deceased hens.
    Got two new hens from a friend, a RIR, sweetest thing ever, and a Buff Orpington who had been picked on by her flock's roosters.
    I integrated them slowly, but my leftover hen antagonizes Buffy to no end!!!
    I placed Buffy with the two EEs in the garage and let her feathers come back, thinking that's what set the leftover hen off.
    They were together for weeks, Buffy and the two EEs.
    Finally came time to integrate everyone so we did it slowly again. Putting a temporary coop next to the original coop (which is a large-ish chicken tractor), gave lots of food, water, treats, etc.
    In the dead of night I put them all together and wouldn't you know, the next morning the leftover is at it again, terrorizing Buffy. Her ire is mostly reserved for Buffy but she'll put the EEs in their place too. Yesterday Buffy's comb began to bleed and now I don't know what to do. I put Vick's on her, per a discussion on this board, but either it just doesn't work or I didn't put enough on. I put up a hanging cd to distract Leftover, but she couldn't care less. I put up one of those treat baskets with a treat cake in it but again, she couldn't care. So, now Leftover roams around the tractor as Queen of the castle with Buffy and the EEs trembling with fear with their heads in corners and huddle up together and won't come down to eat or drink (I put food and water up top where they are, I think they'll eat and drink when Leftover is downstairs).

    So, I come to you, dear Backyard Chicken-ers, for advice and assurance. Is this normal? I hate to be outside gardening or whatever and hear the frightened clucks and flappings of the terrorized hens. If you tell me to be patient (this is only the second full day they've all been together), that's what I'll do. If you tell me that Buffy just sets Leftover off and there's no fixing it, I'll try to find her a nice home. If you tell me to send Leftover somewhere else, I would do that too. Sigh. Things were so uncomplicated before "the occurance".

    P.S. I gave the RIR back to my friend as she was old and wouldn't lay anymore. My kids thought it would be better to let her go back to her free range home rather than keep her in the coop. Leftover had no problems whatsoever with Red and I can't figure out why not!
     
  2. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    It is pecking order. As long as no blood is shed they will figure it out. Chickens are mean when establishing a pecking order.
    If blood is shed you could take out the top hen till she is back at the bottom of the group. She might just come back in and fight for top position again though?
    Crazy Chickens....They will figure it out.
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
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    Sorry you're having these issues. Let me get some more information to see how we can help.....

    How much space do your birds have? how many feet is the coop/run? Can we get a picture of your set up?

    Any free range time?

    My first thought is the space is too tight. What may have been fine for three birds who grew up together is probably way too small for three adults who don't know each other. The subordinate hens don't have enough space to get away from the Alpha, so they can't properly show their submission. She sees this as a lack of respect (that they're still in her space) and continues to attack them. They're stuck, they'd love to get away from her but they literally have no place to go.

    You've also got two juvelinels not yet in the coop, correct? I'm thinking you're going to need to re-do your housing. Again, this is just the scenario my mind had projected based on previous questions like this, information on your set up will confirm or deny [​IMG]
     
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  4. AWoodward

    AWoodward New Egg

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    Mar 28, 2014
    Choctaw, OK
    I have two hens and two pullets in the coop which measures 3' X 5' on the bottom and the same on the top (minus the door/ramp). Don't mind the coop poop, it's getting cleaned out soon! They don't get any free range time anymore since I still don't know what took the other two and once a neighborhood dog came and scattered them. Took me forever to round those three girls up!
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  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Southern Oregon
    Yeah, it's a space thing. Honestly, I would max that space at 2 large birds or maybe 3 bantams. You did manage to make it work for a while with a stable, same age group, but I don't think it's going to work for new birds.

    I'd use that as a grow out pen for the littles and build a larger coop/tractor/pen for your adult birds. They really need about 10 square feet each to get along well.

    here's a great article to read......

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need
     
  6. AWoodward

    AWoodward New Egg

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    Mar 28, 2014
    Choctaw, OK
    Dang. I liked that article but it goes against all the things I read before we got chickens! I do want to build a permanent coop with two runs, side by side, etc. but that won't be for awhile. Ugh.

    Still, thanks for the advice. I just have to figure out how to rework this operation!
     

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