Help a bullied hen

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Arlowbird, Mar 23, 2016.

  1. Arlowbird

    Arlowbird Out Of The Brooder

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    About two weeks ago we got 6 ex battery hens. They all seemed to get on well together apart from one that they all picked on. She is bigger than the other hens but has a very small comb which I am thinking may be the reason she is being singled out for bullying. The flock are now free range during the day but the bullied one goes off on her own and stays away from the rest of them. In the evenings, until bedtime, and at mealtimes we put them in a 15 x 16 ft pen but have had to build another house and pen for the bullied girl. This is within the main pen so that she can see the others but they can't get to her. Today she started mixing with the rest of the flock but as soon as they came back into the pen they started picking on her again. At the moment she is sleeping alone which I am not sure is best for her. I have seen other posts about bullied hens which have been really helpful and although I think things are improving I would really appreciate some advice on whether we should leave her to sleep on her own or put another hen in with her. I am reluctant to let her sleep with the other hens as I'm scared of what I might find in the morning!

    Advice would be very much appreciated.
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    I too, would keep her safely separated until it seems she's getting along. It might help to put a more mellow hen with her at night with the hopes she will bond with it. It might take a bit of observation to figure out which one would be best.
     
  3. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    Have you actually observed bullying behavior after the flock has roosted? Other than some brief conflict over perches, it's been my experience that chickens are far too busy settling in for the night to cause much trouble.

    I urge you to try placing your victim on a perch in the coop as soon as the others have mostly settled in. Roosting with the others is a far better way for a bullied chicken to maintain her self confidence, her presence in the flock social order and ultimately become accepted.

    Keeping a bullied hen separate for an extended period without any intervals of insertion into the pecking order even if brief, only reinforces her outsider designation and doesn't help much to build her self confidence, either.

    If you let her sleep with the others and you get to her early before she leaves the coop, you can place her in her safe pen with her breakfast before the other have a chance to harm her. Later, under supervision, try letting her out to learn to mingle with the others and learn coping mechanisms, such as whom to trust and whom she needs to flee. That shows the others she's one of them, and it also builds self confidence.

    In time, she will learn to do much better because her self confidence will also teach the others she's not the victim she used to be. It's a matter of interrupting the vicious circle.
     
  4. Arlowbird

    Arlowbird Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for your replies - Rosie, as we have now named our bullied girl, is now starting to interact with the others although they are still chasing her off at meal times. Last night another chicken went into her house to roost and she had no problem joining her. Both were fine until breakfast when her room mate chased her away! When we put food down for them they all rush to it as if they've never been fed before. Is this normal? Also is it ok to let the girls choose where they want to sleep at night?

    Thanks in advance for your help.
     
  5. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    If you can set up more than one feeding station it may help matters and yes, chickens always act like they've been starved to death [​IMG]. Yep, let your flock decide where they want to sleep - there may be prime or favourite spots on the roosts and so its best to let them work out who goes where (with the usual squabbles).

    CT
     
  6. Arlowbird

    Arlowbird Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks Ken, this is all new to me and I just hate the idea of having an unhappy girl. Your advice is much appreciated.
     
  7. Arlowbird

    Arlowbird Out Of The Brooder

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    Sorry, meant to address you as CTKen!
     
  8. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    You are most welcome and don't worry, I've been called a lot worse than Ken in the past! [​IMG]
     
  9. littlebrownhen

    littlebrownhen New Egg

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    I'm also having troubles with a bullied hen. We got our starter flock about 6 months ago with 3 hens and 2 roosters. The hen established a pecking order and the smallest was bullied relentlessly. The first time they were left overnight together, we found the small one with a missing comb and the majority of her scalp pecked off in the morning. We removed her and put her with one of the roosters (since they boys don't get along either). She has since healed and we tried recently to reintroduce her to the other two. We put the middle hen in a wire cage in the coup, the top hen in the run and the little girl in the coup with that the caged hen. I heard a ruckus in the coup after about an hour and my little girl has new peck injuries to her head and a broken leg. How are we ever going to create peace with these girls. I'm very worried especially since we have 5 pullets that will be ready to join the big girls in just a couple of months.
     
  10. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    You may wish to wait before trying to re-integrate the bullied chicken until you are ready to integrate the 5 pullets. I'd suggest typing "integrating new chickens" in the search box and doing a lot of reading and planning.

    The aggression may be caused by factors that you can control (size of run, number of feeding stations etc), or maybe you simply have a nutcase alpha hen, but its worth narrowing down why this may be happening before introducing the pullets.

    (BTW - the suggested roo to hen ratio is 1:10)

    All the best
    CT
     

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