Does anyone know what would cause several hens to suddenly start picking on one?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by AliciaC, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. AliciaC

    AliciaC In the Brooder

    Mar 22, 2011
    I'm really concerned about what's happening in my usually peaceful coop. Suddenly after living together peacefully for a year several hens have singled out one hen and started jumping on, chasing, chasing away from food and water, corner her and even block her from going inside the coop at night. They actually sit directly in front of the entrance and won't allow her to enter. I'm worried and dumbfounded by this. They have ALWAYS got along find, no conflicts, just very pleasant. A little about the chickens, housing and so on.... If that has anything to do with this. The coop interior is about 10x12, one wall is mostly nest boxes (16) with a perch at each level, 2 big perches floor to ceiling 32" wide x 8' tall, kind of like a wide ladder and one has a nest box on top of it for a little game hen who likes to be as high up as she can get. 11 hens, 2 prod red, 2 wyandott, 1 ameracauna, 1 Cochin frizzle bantam, 1 mixed bantam, 1 polish frizzle bantam, 1 tiny old English game hen, 2 silkies and 1 silkie roo. The outside coop run is 20x20 with lots of perches, a few nooks and cubbies, food and water area. Fresh layer feed, fruit, vegetables, water every morning. Usually treats in the afternoon. The one that's been singled out is a silkie, her sister silkie, Lucy the game hen and the roo are the only ones not picking on her. I set up anotjer feed area so she can eat and Lucy will eat with her, the others will eventually run her off this food as well. I have to carry her into the coop at night. I don't get this at all. They've been raised together, never a problem until this last week. I don't see any injuries, infestation, she does seem depressed now. Does anyone know why something like this would happen, what I can do? Any advice, experience, insight I would greatly appreciate.

  2. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Crowing

    Jul 24, 2013
    Have any new birds been added lately? New additions tend to upset the pecking order a bit, though this is usually temporary. The only other thing that I can think of is that she is sick or injured, as birds like that are often singled out by the rest of the flock and attacked. Give her a thorough check-up: Look for parasites under the feathers, figure out whether she seems like she's losing weight, look for any discharge/swelling near the face, feel her crop in the morning (it should be empty), and watch her as she moves for any waddling, limping, etc. I'd put some probiotics and vitamins in the water and see if that gives her a boost.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
  3. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    This has happened a couple times in my flock. Oddly, or maybe it's of significance, the two who have been ganged up on were raised as brooder mates. They weren't ganged up on at the same time, though.

    The first time, I separated the one who was being bullied. I placed her in "chicken jail" adjacent to the main pen so the others could see she was still with the flock. After a couple weeks, well rested, I let her back in with the others. No one picked on her, and she seemed to have new confidence and was standing up for herself.

    The other one was being terrorized by an entire gang of four Sussex who were all prior brooder mates. I let her roost in another coop for a few weeks, and then she elected to go back with the others, still getting chased and bullied, but somehow coping with it better.

    My opinion is that some chickens are annoyed by others and take out their resentment on them. It seems to be the ones who have a poor representation of former broody mates (less than four) who seem to suffer most from this problem.
  4. jmandawn

    jmandawn Chirping

    Apr 12, 2013
    Palmer, Alaska
    Have you called Dr. Phil [​IMG] and asked his opinion?
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    My first thought is there's something wrong with the silkie. Chickens can be pretty brutal about the whole survival of the fittest thing, and it's the flock's job to run off or kill any ill/injured flock member to protect the health of the rest of the flock.
  6. AliciaC

    AliciaC In the Brooder

    Mar 22, 2011

    Well I don't get it, here she is now back in good standing with the rest of the flock. Just figures as soon as I can't take the worries anymore and bring it to the forum they act like nothing ever happened and I'm crazy. I'm so glad thats over with!

    Thank you for your replies! I checked her over carefully and found nothing at all. Crops good, no lice, mites, good poo, she does look like she's lost weight but that could be from being chased and run off the feeder. I did set up a separate feed area for her. I'm still watching closely. Omgosh I'm so glad that's over!! Thanks again :)

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