Everyone is picking on her

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by bnther, Jul 6, 2016.

  1. bnther

    bnther Just Hatched

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    First time poster...big time desperate!

    I've got 8 bantams - 7 hens and 1 rooster. They're free-range birds, outside at 7:30am and back in at dusk. They've got good quality feed (& lots of it), a 4 by 8 coop and 3 nesting boxes (but no eggs yet).

    My problem is this:
    One hen is fairly timid. I didn't see it when they were chicks, but over the last couple of weeks, I noticed that she doesn't come out of the coop when I'm tossing bread scraps. It bothered me, so I started working on her - talking, tossing bread into the coop, ect. Today when I came out to give treats, she came out but promptly got jumped by the other hens - forcing her back into the coop. Tonight at dusk, I heard some awful racket coming from the coop and I look in to see her being ridden by another hen. Thinking I might have a bully, I watched for a while. In the space of 15 minutes, 3 other hens did the same thing - pecking at her back and riding her around the coop.

    Why are they ganging up on her? More importantly, how do I stop it?

    Thank you.
     
  2. basement chick

    basement chick Out Of The Brooder

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    Wow I sort of have a similar problem. Some of that is normal behavior. Chickens have a pecking order and somebody is always on the bottom. Usually they just learn to wait their turn for everything and do fine.

    I had a rooster but rehomed him last year. The oldest hen then started riding the other hens...one of them, my easter egger, all the time. The other six hens peck at her all the time too. She looks terrible and is of course my favorite. I got two more pullets this year hoping to take some of the heat off her but it hasn't helped yet. I'm thinking about getting another hen and putting the two of them together to kind of bond so she has an ally. She is always by herself. I don't want her to get sick from all the missing feathers and she has one sore spot from being ridden all the time.

    I did try separating the older hen to try to kind of retrain her but the next in line started taking her place and everyone got all upset so I put her back in with them. I think maybe we don't have enough hens. I've read a rooster can do this to his favorite hen if he doesn't have enough girls to keep him busy. Maybe it's the same with a bullying hen?

    I think your rooster will eventually put those hens in their place and not allow them to mount her. It can take a rooster a few months to really take charge. If you have room for more hens maybe try that too.

    I hope someone can help both of us and soon!
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    When I see posts like this, my first though is always overcrowding. But since you free range, that's not the issue.

    Are you 100% positive on the genders of the birds? My next thought is cockerels harassing a pullet. Can you post pictures?

    How old are your birds?

    Another thought is there is something wrong with her and they are trying to keep the flock healthy and safe. Ill or weak animals are often driven from the group. Have you checked her for parasites, is she acting ill, eating and drinking, etc?
     
  4. Ravynscroft

    Ravynscroft For the Love of Duck Premium Member

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    X2

    Please post pics of all of them if possible... it really does sound like a young pullet stuck with a bunch of teenage boys... or she does have something going on/wrong with her... they can be brutal about kicking out one that is sick or not quite right...
     
  5. bnther

    bnther Just Hatched

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    Thanks for all of the replies. I'll and try and answer what I can.

    Honestly, I have not physically checked the sex of the chickens -- I was going by the comb. Dumb, I know, but I'm not really sure how to check the sex. Also, the 'hens' aren't fighting with each other, just picking on one girl.

    Frank - my rooster. The poor guy wants to do his job, but he's the smallest one of the group. I'm afraid he's not going to be keeping anyone inline. He never hesitates to defend himself and is always the first on the scene when there is something new (like that baby bunny that was lurking ever so dangerously in the grass) but he is 1/3 smaller than the two biggest.

    Possibly ill. I've wondered a little on that. She looks healthy, but she doesn't always respond to things, like treats when they land close to her. I've wondered how well she can see, but I might be just imagining things.

    Age: Got them as chicks this spring - maybe around 15 weeks or so.

    The poor girl has a pretty miserable life these days. And it would seem that the abuse is escalating. Don't care for where this is headed.

    Thanks for all of the replies.
     
  6. AriadneCastro

    AriadneCastro Out Of The Brooder

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    My advice for immediate action and until you figure out what is going on, is that you separate this hen, along with a buddy, if she has one. They get even more depressed if they are alone! Plus, I can see mostly roosters on that second photo - either that or you have a breed with really fantastic tail feathers!!!
     
  7. wsmith77

    wsmith77 Out Of The Brooder

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    Another vote to separate her at least for now. Try and get her built up then reintroduce later. Personally it wouldn't be a bad idea to do that to your roo as well for a bit. Get him build up and randy and he's more apt to do his job. Once you get a dominant hen the issue is she will dominate the rooster as well. You could try putting that hen with your roo and see how they do together for a couple weeks then reintroduce them. If it was one ring leader causing all the issues I'd say just isolate her but it sounds like pecking order has been established.
     
  8. bnther

    bnther Just Hatched

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    This is actually her in the pic. I had just let them out (everyone is distracted) which is why she's able to come out and not hiding in the coop.
    Frank is the only one with defined comb - which is what I was basing my amateur opinion on. I could be totally wrong though.

    Mammals are so much easier : )
     
  9. mustang56

    mustang56 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What is the difference between the male and females.....?
    What kind of chickens are these...?
     
  10. Ravynscroft

    Ravynscroft For the Love of Duck Premium Member

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    Holy crow!! You got a LOT of boys there... your picked on girl is the only girl I can tell from these pics... might have another or 2, but looks like lots of boys... These are Sebrights, notoriously hard to sex since the roosters are 'hen feathered', but they get bigger combs and wattles... dunno why your one boy has a single comb, must be a mix... separate that girl asap before they tear her up mating...
     

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