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Did breed variety cause pecking order problems? Please help

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by LadyBclucky, Oct 21, 2011.

  1. LadyBclucky

    LadyBclucky Out Of The Brooder

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    Please help. I'm feeling very discouraged. I have owned four chickens for 2 years. I love them all very much. But when I got them as chicks I wanted variety... I have a black australorp, a black sex linked, a plymouth rock and a golden laced wynadotte.
    My black austraplorp being the sweetest most timid bird of the flock is on the bottom of the pecking orderd. It all started when she went broody the first time, the other 3 chickens took turn pecking the living daylights out of her. I seperated her by putting her in a broody buster, then she went back in the flock, but things were never the same. She began losing feathers, then getting small specks of blood here and there, my husband and I couldn't figure out if she was molting in conjuction since she was losing feathers in what seemed as a typical molting pattern. Non the less- I seperated her. I wanted her to get a chance to feather out. It took a good 2 months. I recently placed her in the large run on a sectioned off portion so they could all see no touch.... but she breached the wall and jumped back into a mob of beatings. I came home from work, and she was bloody worst than before. I am soo discouraged. This experience has made me think of many things I could have possibly done wrong... the first possibly being that 2 years ago I should have brought home 4 chicks all the same breed. I'm curous what others might think, will my black australorp ever be able to be apart of the flock again? what should I do? I'm really at a loss. After explaining to my husband that I may have made a mistake by getting 4 different breeds, he told me I should get rid of them and start from scratch. I love my chickens, I'd like to make this flock work. I understand they are doing what comes natural. But what can I do to help to make sure I don't come home to a bloodied chicken again. Thank you
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I doubt the mixed breeds has much if anything to do with it. Mostly I think you are just seeing pecking order and the natural rearranging of it. You don't mention how much space they have, whether they can hide under a deck or bush or the like. A lot more space might allow them the opportunity to sort it out without much more trauma. A protein boost for a while might help. You probably know that isolating a bully for several days often helps, when there is an obvious one, or an obvious bully ringleader. In the end, though, I think sometimes there isn't really a solution.
     
  3. LadyBclucky

    LadyBclucky Out Of The Brooder

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    Their run is actually a large side yard, there isn't an area really for hiding. I never really thought of that since usually the black astralorp just lays there and takes the beatings. When I reintroduce her into the group I will place things for her hide in over there. How exactly does a protein boost help bullying? Also, my husband has me concerned that now that the chickens know the taste of blood they will be pecking eachother more... Is this a legitimate concern???
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2011
  4. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    My older books on chicken keeping did warn about the potential for aggression problems in mixed breed flocks. I didn't mix breeds until my later flocks, starting in the early 90's. I've had trouble a couple of times.

    In general, if you don't mix higher strung, more aggressive breeds with much more docile breeds, you don't have too much trouble. Still, you can have a problem with a particular chicken. Sometimes particular sources of chickens will be more aggressive or docile than another source's chickens, too, even if they're the same breed.

    Allowing more space and more activity is always good.

    Breaking up the visual space helps, so the victim isn't always in sight of the bully. Don't make areas that she can get trapped and cornered in. Platforms, tables or chairs can give them something to get up on. The bully and victim can be on different levels. Items that work like room dividers are good. This just needs to be something visually solid, even a bush or shrub works, or it can be something man-made.

    Give them an extra food and water station, so the victim can eat and drink, without being bullied.

    Try to give them more to do. Things to jump up on, foods to forage, a fresh area or container of sand or dirt to dig in.

    Watch them and see if one of your chickens is leading the bullying. How is your Wyandotte's temperament? Most are good, some not so good, depending on the strain or bloodlines. Once they get going, other chickens will often join in, especially once blood is drawn. Sometimes, without the most aggressive chicken there, it doesn't get started. You can also try taking the most aggressive chicken out for a few days.
     
  5. LadyBclucky

    LadyBclucky Out Of The Brooder

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    The wynadotte is for sure aggressive. We have notice she does a good amount of the bullying. Although the others gladly participate, the wynadotte always starts the chasing and pecking. Thanks so much for all the advice, I just hope that I can get this under control. My hope was to add to my flock this spring, but I'm now concerned that I won't be able to due to this problem.
     
  6. rebel-rousing-at-night

    rebel-rousing-at-night Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:I would take the Wynadotte out for a time out to change the pecking order.
     
  7. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:I would take the Wynadotte out for a time out to change the pecking order.

    That's what I would do, too. You might want to consider taking her out of the flock as a long term solution, too, if you can't get her to tone down her aggression after you try some different things. I know that isn't something you'd ideally want to do, but it's something to keep in mind as an option.
     
  8. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

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    It's not because it is a mixed flock. It is because they are chickens. Chickens are mean to each other.

    Flocks of all one breed can be just as nasty to each other.

    You might try getting rid of your bully. I suspect another will take her place, but you can try it and see what happens.
     
  9. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    Quote:X 2 lThis is the logical husbandry based approach. By continually removing the Australorp, you are making her a 'stranger' to the rest of the flock.
     
  10. LadyBclucky

    LadyBclucky Out Of The Brooder

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    I have often considered getting rid of the bully. I am mostly separating the astralorp because of her wounds now. I'd like her to have a chance to feather out and heal. But I will try to separate the bully and see how this works. If it fixed things I will try to find a new home for her..... I can see the posting now " looking for a home for an aggressive golden laced wynadotte, beautiful plumage but needs a serious attitude adjustment"... Thanks everyone for the advice. This forum is a god send.
     

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