Free Range to Stop Being Picked On

Ratherbwarm

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 28, 2014
35
1
36
Strafford, NH
We just bought a new home and the previous owners (he was a breeder, if that's what you can call it...more of a puppy mill for chickens) left me 5 hens. First time I have ever owned yick yacks. Once they left the property and we really took a look at the girls we realized how abused they were. 2-3 hens left in a 4ft round "pen" that fit inside of a small blue pool with a rooster. The girls were missing most of their back and neck feathers, with even their combs being pecked gone. We cleaned, cleaned and cleaned more and set up them up like queens. Moved them from the coop (a small stall in the barn) to the outside coop (a 8x10 shed with a 12 x 8 outside run). 3 days later I found one of the girls just about pecked to death. She was a bloody mess. I took her out and put her back into the barn coop. I was too afraid that they would kill her to keep her in with them. It's been almost 2 weeks now and she is better. Eating again and although she hasn't layed since she was mauled she roosts a lot. Pretty sure she will be ok at this point. So I got home from work today and went out to see the girls and low and behold another was huddled in the corner all bloody!!! She tried to go outside and all three of the other girls immediately went after her. So I have quarantined her to one side of the outside coop for now. I'm thinking of letting them free range hoping that the extra space will help the aggression. We have 6 acres of rural area, no close neighbors but predators are a concern since I'm not home all day, one being my cat. What are your thoughts on this? I can't keep separating them and I want to make sure they all get equal outside time and if they keep getting mauled that won't happen. Please help this new chicken Mom before she gives up and gives them away to new homes. Thanks!! :/
 

HENHOUSE4367

Hatching
6 Years
Apr 24, 2013
2
0
6
I had problems with pecking this winter when the snow is deep and the hens could not get outside. I hung cabbage in the coop and that helped a little. As soon as they were able to range the pecking stopped. If you separate them you may have to reintroduce them to each other. I have been told it can take three days for them to accept each other again. Scratching around seems to keep them busy all day and when they go in at dusk they show no signs of pecking.
 

Blessing

In the Brooder
6 Years
Jul 13, 2013
67
0
42
My chickens are free range all year round and I've never had this problem. I do see the occasional fight but its never that bad. Altough my baby chick that I incubated last year is pick on alot. Free ranging your hens may help alot but you probably still will have a bit of fighting but not as bad. If your worry about predators then fence off your garden it will keep the predators out. I have a dog that does be out during the day he is trained and doesn't go near the chickens and he keeps predators away
 

Ratherbwarm

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 28, 2014
35
1
36
Strafford, NH
Thanks for the info. I did open the doors this morning and let them out, so we will see how they did this afternoon when I get home. For the 2 hours that I was home before work they hadn't come out of the coop or yard run yet. I have a feeling it will take them a bit to get used to the idea of coming out. The one that was being mauled yesterday was better today, but the other 3 still wouldn't let her out in the run this morning. The second she stepped onto the ramp to go out the door they immediately ran after her and she came back into the coop. Hopefully more room to run and more outside activities will stop the bullying. This certainly isn't the fun, cuddly, feathery love that I was expecting...I never realized that they were this brutal to each other.
 

cracked egg

Chirping
7 Years
Feb 29, 2012
229
20
91
Blackfoot, Idaho
I free range as well and don't have this problem. Free range has some consequences, you will lose some birds now and then. The birds I have now after generations of "natural selection" act more like pheasants when predators are around. Provide some escape cover for them,predator control, a good rooster and enjoy.
 

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