Dominant pullet keeping others off the roost.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Bruster Rooster, Nov 10, 2016.

  1. Bruster Rooster

    Bruster Rooster Just Hatched

    26
    2
    17
    Oct 15, 2016
    Northwest Florida
    I have 4 pullets, who are the same age & were raised together. ( 2 Dominiques, 1 Plymouth Rock, & 1 Buff Orphanton. They are in a small coop, with sufficient room & a single roost (also with sufficient space but I don't have the room to put in a 2nd one). The Plymouth Rock is the dominate pullet & can be very bossy. We have 2 nests in one end of the coop, through a small archway for privacy. Since we had an extra nest. we placed it in the main coop, in front of the roost & only the Plymouth Rock uses it. We had no problem until after the pullets started laying. They all hopped on the roost, slept the night & no problems. After they started laying, it has been nothing but problems at roosting time. The Plymouth Rock gets on the roost first, is very loud & aggressive & will not allow the others to roost. Therefore, for over a month, I have had to force the Plymouth Rock to the end, while I place all the others myself. As soon as I get them placed & shut the door, the Plymouth Rock gets quiet & no more problems until the next roosting time.

    Could it be that the Plymouth Rock is possessive of the nest & that is the problem? If so, why doesn't she get all out of whack during each day when the others are going in & out to lay? There is a fake egg in her nest so maybe she thinks that is her egg & she is protecting it? I doubt that is the problem, but tonight it won't be there. I'm a little hesitant to take the nest out, because that is the only one she will use & it could really cause a problem for the pullets, who are using the other 2 nests? The only one, who tried to use her nest was subjected to a lot of pecking & even with the Plymouth Rock stomping all over her. I'm also very hesitant about the idea of getting rid of the Plymouth Rock because she is a big beautiful one, who is a good layer. It also doesn't help that, at a very early age, she began flying up on my arm to eat out of my hand & still does so. I know some of you chicken lovers understand that.

    Any suggestions as to likely solutions, will be greatly appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2016
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

    17,714
    6,065
    496
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Every night my chickens go to roost and bicker and switch places, they peck each other, it's quite dramatic every single night. What you are seeing in normal.

    To the chicken where you roost can be a life or death situation. Those lowest or on the outside of the roost, or those closest to the door are the ones who would be snatched by a predator if they came around.

    Your chickens don't know they are safe and secure, so every night they technically fight for their lives. I would stay out of it and let them work it out. Sometimes when you get involved in chicken politics all it does is drive you crazy.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Howdy Bruster Rooster

    I totally agree with oldhenlikesdogs. Some of my gals have lived together for 3 years and every night, without fail, there is squabbling, pecking and bickering over spots on the roost.

    There is plenty of room for my 5 gals on the high roost and a spare slightly lower roost but they all squish up on one end of the high roost.

    At the moment I do have to supervise roosting time because I have a couple of girls who are rearranging the pecking order and there has been more bullying than usual so I have to make sure these two are not sitting together.

    Other than that, I leave them to it; they settle pretty quickly. As oldhenlikesdogs suggested, trying to understand chicken politics and trying to please all of them will drive you crazy [​IMG]

    Also, I have watched mine go to roost quite often and some of them squark in protest when they have not even been pecked. So, while it may sound like they are killing each other, it probably is not as bad as it sounds.
     
  4. Bruster Rooster

    Bruster Rooster Just Hatched

    26
    2
    17
    Oct 15, 2016
    Northwest Florida
    Thanks for the comments.

    Tonight, I waited until it was too late for the pullets to see how to roost. As I approached the coop, I heard my Plymouth Rock raising cane at my Buff, who was trying to get on the roost. She was in the middle of the roost, keeping the Buff off. The 2 Dominiques were outside in the run & would not go up the ramp to the roost. Both the Dominiques are very docile & will not peck other chickens or try to fight their way onto the roost. As dark as it was, there was no way they could see well enough to get on the roost, Plymouth Rock or not. Therefore, my only option was to push the Plymouth Rock to one end, while I used a light to manually place the others. I could not bring myself to leave the 3 pullets (30 wks old) outside the coop. As soon as I turned the light off & shut the door, all chickens became very quiet. Each morning, when I let them out of the coop, they are always in the same positions I left them in the night before. In the mornings, the Plymouth Rock causes no problems at all. Due to the size of the larger Plymouth Rock, I have never seen any of the other 3 challenge her (within the last month) at any time, day or night.

    Any other comments or suggestions will be appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2016
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    17,955
    2,628
    466
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Could you show a picture of how roost is setup and include how birds access it. For me the ideal the birds are the birds get settled onto roost quickly and quietly so they do not attract predators nor cause me to anxious when listening for trouble.
     
  6. Bruster Rooster

    Bruster Rooster Just Hatched

    26
    2
    17
    Oct 15, 2016
    Northwest Florida
    That is my experience as well. I have a 2nd small coop, with a very similar set up, with 3 white leghorn laying pullets and a white leghorn rooster. I have never had any problem at all with them roosting. From day one that rooster kept them in order & no problems. I never had to get involved with their roosting at all. Of course, I guess that rooster did all the work for me.

    I'll take a photo tomorrow & post it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2016
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    35,767
    9,272
    656
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    RoostTimeRumble...happens most every night.

    Best to have 1 foot of roost space for each bird...they can sleep on less, but need 'extra' room to maneuver during the rumble.
    Onset of lay can often cause pecking order shifts, not to mention a rush of hormones.
     
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

    20,211
    8,775
    596
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    When you learn to think like a chicken, it does help to sort out the behaviors you see.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. Bruster Rooster

    Bruster Rooster Just Hatched

    26
    2
    17
    Oct 15, 2016
    Northwest Florida
    The doorway to the coop is 2 feet from the roost. The roost is 2 inches short of 4 feet, which gives 11.5 inches space to each. This gives them plenty of room to spread out. The roost is about one foot high. To the right is a little archway, with 2 good sized nests behind it.[​IMG]



    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  10. Bruster Rooster

    Bruster Rooster Just Hatched

    26
    2
    17
    Oct 15, 2016
    Northwest Florida
    I think I have discovered the solution to my problem.

    Since we were very late in getting a coop built for these chickens, we spent a lot of time with them & they became very tame. (Well, spoiled might be more accurate). I began to notice that sometimes, when I went to lock their coop, I heard some little feet hitting the floor, & the 3 met me at the doorway or on the ground. I decided that, the next day, I would wait until it was darker to lock the coop. The first time it was too dark to see how to get back on the roost, because of almost no light in the back in the coop, which is the direction they jump up. But because of the larger ventilation windows in the front, they could still see how to jump down off the roost. So, I decided that, when they heard me coming, they were jumping off the roost to greet me. But, when they tried to jump back on the roost, they couldn’t see how to do it. But, my Plymouth Rock, who is at the top of the pecking order, got very agitated at all this, including a lot of pecking of the other 3. At that time, it became impossible for the 3 to get back on the roost, without assistance.

    The last 3 nights, before going out to lock up, I waited until it was too dark for the chickens to see how to jump off the roost. It worked & each time, all four have been on the roost, with no squabbling at all.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by