Frustrated by bully! Help, please!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by aligoody, Jun 29, 2016.

  1. aligoody

    aligoody Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 22, 2016
    About 3 weeks ago we noticed one of our hens had been pecked and and bloodied on both sides of her back. We immediately separated her in a dog crate in the house and cared for her wounds for one and a half weeks and they healed beautifully. She now just has bare skin under her wings while she waits for feathers to grow.

    We put her back in the coop but segregated from the other two birds for the rest of the second week. They slept together a few nights and did fine, but one of the other hens would continue to harass her and peck at her when I tried to integrate them during the day.

    I have read hundreds of posts for advice. I segregated the bully in the crate in the house for 3 days, then another day in the coop but separate from the other two (who seem to get along fine together). Last night I attempted integration, and the bullied and bully appeared to be working out their pecking order (raised necks, pecking, squeaking, bully jumping on bullied's back). They slept together in the coop, and no blood was drawn.

    This morning, though, the bully would not leave the bullied hen alone...AND, the other hen also took part in cornering her and pecking. I'm so upset and frustrated and feel like a failure as a chicken mom! I've spent HOURS observing and tending to them over the last 3 weeks. I have again separated the bully from the other two, but they are beside each other in the coop/run.

    Should I isolate the bully completely again? If so, for how long? When integrating her, do you just throw her in with the others, or slowly integrate as I did with the injured hen? I only have 3, so I really don't want to get rid of any of them [​IMG]
     
  2. aligoody

    aligoody Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 22, 2016
    Just a little extra info: the 3 birds are all from the same original flock and I've had them since they were 8 weeks old with absolutely no problems between them until now. 2 of the hens started laying this month, but the bully is yet to lay as far as I can tell (although she's been showing signs of being ready the longest and I expected her to be first). She also has had a very dry, flaky comb which I've been putting antibiotic ointment on.
     
  3. HeatherandSteve

    HeatherandSteve New Egg

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    Jun 18, 2016
    We presently have seven hens, the two hens with fully comb are bullies, the back of the neck of one of the younger birds is completley bald and flaky and two others have patchy feathers on the back of their necks. I think the younger birds are on the lower roost in the coop and the bully girls are pecking the neck of them through the night; I to have no idea how to stop this nasty beahvaiour and would appreciate any advice experienced hen keepers can give?
     
  4. mackenzie450

    mackenzie450 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 15, 2016


    I am so sorry, there is nothing more frustrating than a flock that doesn't get along. I am not extremely experienced but I had the exact same problem. I literally had to spend SO much time trying to figure out how to work out all of their kinks. I tried everything you said. Finally what worked for me, was getting two seperate crates, one next to the other, one for bullied and one for bully. I left them side by side until the bullied feathers were growing back a good amount, I found if I tried to put her back earlier they would pick out her feathers as they were growing in. Anyway, when I released them back into the flock they were very used to each other and it bumped the bully down a few pegs. I would keep the two crates next to each other in the run so they were forced to see and smell each other without being able to hurt one another.

    This may not be the best advice, like I said, I am new to chicken keeping. But I had the same frustrating problem and this seemed to work for me. The worst thing I did was put a chicken that was injured back in the flock to early. It sometimes takes weeks. Hope this helps!
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    The coming into lay hormone surge could have something to do with it.

    How big is your coop and run(feet by feet)?
    Pics could really help, @aligoody , inside and out

    I'd keep the bully in timeout unless she's behaving.

    Oh, and Welcome to BYC!
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2016
  6. aligoody

    aligoody Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 22, 2016
    Thank you for your responses @mackenzie450 and @aart!! Admittedly, my coop and run are not huge, but I only have 3 chickens and have plans to expand by fencing in a larger area for them. They have about 46 square feet of run space. I'd love to just let them free range, but my four dogs won't allow it!

    I kept Hazel (bully) inside in a crate for 3 more days, but I've had to put her in the run today, separated from the other two. When she was in the house, she occasionally crowed like a rooster and I'm concerned that she is not yet laying while the others are laying daily. She also has had a dry, flaky comb, which at times appears purplish at the tips.

    I'm wondering if I should treat her with some kind of antibiotic, just in case she is sick. She eats and drinks well, and her feathers are glossy and eyes still sparkle! I've also read about using oregano as a natural antibiotic.

    Any thoughts? I'll follow up with photos of Hazel.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2016
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Run sounds OK for 3.
    How much coop space?

    Crowing? 'Bullying'?
    Might you have a cockerel and what you've seen are attempts to dominate/mate?
    Really need some pics of this bird....clear and bright close up of comb, head, neck, and shoulder area, full body side view.

    Purple comb tips can indicate a circulatory/heart problem....throwing an antibiotic ('natural' or synthetic) at an unknown ailment might only confuse matters.
     
  8. aligoody

    aligoody Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 22, 2016
    @aart

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Great pics!
    Man, I'm not sure...comb and wattles sure are large, hackles are kind of pointy, but no saddle or sickle feathers.
    If s/he has taken over a leadership role in the absence of a male, s/he may be acting as a cockbird and thus the crowing and not laying.
     
  10. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    This often occurs when birds become full size. What seemed like more than enough space when they were small is often times not enough space now. For some reason, on here we tend to discuss space as a two dimensional area as in square feet, length and width, but really one needs to consider height also.

    Let me explain a bit about chicken society, and see if this helps. When a chicken challenges another chicken, it often is subtle, the lower bird, just moves away and the issues is resolved, if there is enough space to indicate acceptance of a lower order. If the run is very large for the number of chickens that you have, you may not even notice this interaction unless you are watching closely. The problem comes up when the space is small. The dominant chicken indicates that the lower chicken needs to move away, but there is not enough space for the chicken to move away and indicate acceptance of the order, so then what happens, is the dominant chicken feels disrespected, and reinforces the attack, to prove her point. The less dominant bird has no where to go, and the attack gets more and more violent.

    Often times if one has a marginal size run, one can actually create a better run by adding some hide outs, some roosts into the run. Leaning a pallet up against a wall or fence, will give some shade, allow a hen to disappear behind it, out of sight, out of mind of the dominant bird, and order has been indicated. A pallet up on blocks, so that birds can get under it and on top of it will actually increase the square footage of the run. Or a mini wall, just set up in the middle of the run, can allow birds to get around it, out of sight. At first these runs tend to look crowded, but you will be surprised at how much more comfortable your birds are, when they can get away from each other.Too many times I see just a large open rectangle for the run, with no shade, no hide outs, and a lot of wasted vertical space.

    If none of these ideas work, then you need to build larger or cull the flock down to two birds. Sometimes for what ever reason, certain birds do not get along, remove the trouble and enjoy the flock again. This flock has a lot of tension in it. One cannot wish birds nice, and while the separation does work sometimes and is a good technique, when you put them back together the problem pops up again, I think that also indicates lack of space, or poor space use.

    Mrs K
     
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