Dissension in the coop

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by MaineChick, Nov 1, 2010.

  1. MaineChick

    MaineChick In the Brooder

    Nov 30, 2008
    I've got 16 chickens that free range on a large acreage during the day. No problems there. At night is another story.

    Chickens: 2 Speckled Sussex hens, 1 BO hen, 1 BO rooster bought as day olds April 2009, so a year and a half old.
    4 BO and 2 Speckled Sussex pullets bought end of April 2010 (about 26 weeks)
    5 mutts (3 roos and 2 pullets) hatched by a broody mid July (about 14 weeks)
    1 BO pullet hatched by a broody the second week of August (there were 3, 2 were just - gone one day) (about 10 weeks)

    There were some upsets with a couple of roo mutts hatched in early April, but they have been sent to freezer camp so all is quieter. The original roo spends his days with the original girls and the 6 April bought pullets. The "gang of 5" is often ranging nearby, or even seem to be part of the flock, as does the remaining youngest BO. At night there is much fussing and pecking over roosting spots. The roosts are no longer than 3 1/2 feet long as that is the width of the coop. They are (I think) about 18" - 2 feet apart, and staggered in height. There are sufficient roosts that if everyone would please just GET ALONG they'd have plenty of room. However, the old hens torture the young ones, even hopping from roost to roost to chase them off, and the old rooster won't let the young boys roost either. They've therefore taken to roosting in the nestboxes - nasty - and up on a shelf that is supposed to be dedicated to feed bins and supplies - also nasty now. One roosts on a tiny windowsill and falls off every now and then. One tries to roost under an overhang next to the coop on top of a precarious pile of gardening supplies. It's a madhouse!

    What can I do? I went in to refill food tonight as I always do about the time they are heading in to roost, and got sufficiently annoyed at the goings on that I grabbed the nastiest pecking old hen and stuffed her in what is essentially a quarantine coop - but it isn't insulated or weather proofed, it's really a summer place. And it'll be down to 25 degrees tonight. I went back in to find a second hen doing the same routine - grabbed her too and told her she could go peck her friend. Repeat twice more. 4 hens in purgatory for the night, and now Big Bird starts in on two of the little roos (the third one has taken the windowsill spot). Aaarrghgh!

    And because, I think, of all the upset, chickens are laying eggs all over the place. We have many wooded acres - egg hunting is NOT fun here. [​IMG] There are only 4 good chickens laying in the nest boxes - but they are not the clean pristine eggs I am used to.

    Can I not keep adolescent roos in with the flock? They will probably go to freezer camp, but I was hoping to let them get a little bigger first.

    I plan to keep the older hens in the contained quarantine coop for a day or two and see what happens. Any other thoughts? Advice? Any help welcomed, thanks.

  2. MissJenny

    MissJenny Songster

    May 11, 2009
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    I am of no help, but I do commiserate -- I have five hens of different breeds, 2 EEs, 1 light brahma, 1 barred rock and 1 cochin. The gang of three, cochin, brahm, barred rock, all hate one of the EE's and the other EE is a feather picker. She picks from only the brahma and the cochin. This is no freakin' fun. I'm ready to get rid of everybody and start anew next spring!

    If you come up with a solution, do share.

  3. bburn

    bburn Songster

    Jul 9, 2010
    Delaware, Arkansas
    My flock is so very calm now that I don't have extra roo's in it.....I can't tell you the difference it makes.

    But my other question would be how big the coop is with that many chickens. They all want the top roost. That is simply pecking order. My top roost goes all the way across the width of the coop and that is longer than eight feet. Then another the same height going the width. A bunch of lower ones that no one roosts on but they use them to get to the top. I think they are beating each other up to get to the top spots. IMHO...for sure.

    But the roos are going to become an issue. And the younger ones are going to be at the bottom of the pecking order too. It is so hard because we don't want to see them picking on each other....but we have to get tough and let them work some of it out. I am trying myself right now as I have some intergration getting ready to happen. Three pullets and two hens will be put in with a six month old roo nest week. I expect some feathers flying. Although I think it will be the hens that cause the problems. I am just hoping the roo can hold his own.

    Before freezer camp I had over half roo's and my DH left and went out of state to work! I had to take care of it on my own! My main flock is 11 hens and one alpha roo and one I think rooster that does not crow or show behaviors. But they are all the same age and grew up together. Now that I have removed the other alpha roo I can't tell you how calm my flock is.

    So, I would look at the size of the coop, the length of the roost and think about those two extra roo's and maybe put them by themselves until they grow big enough to send to freezer camp if that is what you are planning to do with them.

    This is only from my experience and all the helpful information that others on here have given me.
  4. MaineChick

    MaineChick In the Brooder

    Nov 30, 2008
    Thanks for the comments - I'll see what happens!
  5. LeghornLisa

    LeghornLisa Songster

    Apr 9, 2009
    I got so tired of all the pecking and mean behavior I sectioned off my coop and run into 3 sections...my older original hens in one, my younger girls in another and my only rooster in the last one. They all have a 1/3 of the coop and run. Separted by chicken wire, they are together but not together....I need to sleep at night and couldn't knowing there was fighting. One of my younger girls Lucy, a Salmon Faverolle, has a jaw deformity. She did not grow as fast as the others and just can't keep up. After trying to merge the 2 flocks I decided it was time to throw in the towel and set the younger girls up in their own place. Finally peace and quiet...

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