FOUR ruthless bully hens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by campingshaws, Oct 9, 2014.

  1. campingshaws

    campingshaws Crossing the Road

    Aug 9, 2014
    Southwest Louisiana
    Last Friday my family went to a poultry auction and came home with six birds: two large pullets that I think may be orpingtons, and four Rhode Island Whites because husband was at his limit of waiting for eggs.

    I have the six new birds in a quarantine coop away from our main flock. Yesterday I gave them baths, the pullets first. When I added the first RIW she immediately attacked the pullets and injured a comb. So I separated them. This morning I put out two separate feeders and opened the little access door so they could mingle. When I checked on them later there were two RIWs on a nesting box with a pullet pinned underneath them.

    The pullets are bigger than the hens, and they all slept in side-by-side dog crates while I was finishing the coop. Are the RIWs just that aggressive? I feel bad that the pullets don't have as much room to scratch around.
  2. Beer can

    Beer can Free Ranging

    Aug 12, 2014
    Upstate NY
    I have never had the whites, but I have had many reds through the years, and they are usually very aggressive, even the hens.
    Don't know if this is the best of advice but I'd say you have two options, keep them separate until the pullets are bigger, or what I personally would do if the pullets are close in size to the older hens, let them fight it out, they will resolve their pecking order eventually and be fine. The pullets will learn their place. When you don't have a roo, you will have a boss hen.
  3. campingshaws

    campingshaws Crossing the Road

    Aug 9, 2014
    Southwest Louisiana

    I've integrated other chickens into my main flock and never really had problems like this. The poor pullets don't run or fight back, they just lay there and take it. I'm really concerned that they'll be seriously injured. They're bigger than the RIWs and could stand a chance if they didn't always punk out.

    I hate it because the RIWs have really warmed up to me, and they don't carry on those shenanigans when I'm watching. But I can't watch them every minute.
  4. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Songster

    Dec 15, 2011
    SE Pa.
    You may want to keep them separated for a while, till they get used each other. A week should do it. In smaller housing pecking order issues can easily get blown up. When you do let them mingle again I would think about just limiting the time at first. Say a little in the evening before they go to roost.
  5. nayeli

    nayeli Songster

    Jan 18, 2014
    Just personally I'd rehome them or they would be dinner. I wouldn't want the pullets injured because I failed to protect them!
  6. campingshaws

    campingshaws Crossing the Road

    Aug 9, 2014
    Southwest Louisiana

    I went ahead and added the pullets to my main flock a little early, and they're doing much better! Speckled sussex are so gentle in comparison.

    We're going to keep one RIW and rehome the rest. I know it's generally not fair practice to add a single bird to the flock, but in this case I think it's the better option. The main flock ranges all day in the back yard, while the RIW have the front (in a big tractor). The RIW are really food oriented and friendly to me, so I don't think it will be a problem to catch her at bed time, if she doesn't follow the others in.

    Thanks for the suggestions! It really just came down to knowing my birds and trusting my judgment. :)


    The new girls (whitish pullets) ranging with the rest.
    1 person likes this.
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Every situation is different and first hand observation is often the only way to suss out a solution.

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