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HELP!! What to do with bullied pullet?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by HeyLady, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. HeyLady

    HeyLady Out Of The Brooder

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    I have two coops on different sides of the yard. Therefore, my two separate flocks do not see each other. One flock has one roo, and the other is just hens. All are large stock chickens. (Examples of breeds/hybrids are RIR, Buckeye, Barred Rock, Light Sussex, Easter Egger, Black Star, & Red Star.)

    Last October my husband bought several new chickens at a farmer's market (how we got flock 2), including a very young dark brown leghorn pullet. However, after they got settled into the coop, I noticed them following the DB Leghorn pullet around, pecking at her. She would run and hide, and they would only chase her long enough to get a peck or two in, but they wouldn't follow her around. Since they were all doing it, I thought she was just going to be at the bottom of the pecking order but that after it was figured out, they would calm down and mostly leave her be. I went out one morning to feed/water, and found the DB Leghorn hiding in the coop (the rest were in the run) and her head was very bloody. I doctored her up, and kept her separated from other chickens for a couple of months. Then, I decided to slowly introduce her to the other flock, to see if she'd do better with them, but the same thing happened, only this time, it's her butt and saddle areas plucked to death, and she has a bad wound on one thigh. I brought her in and cleaned her up, and now I'm at a loss for what to do with her.

    She is much smaller than the rest, and I don't think she is growing any more; however, she has practically no comb yet, so I don't know. I don't think she's grown much if any since we got her and we've had her for 3 months. She has not started laying yet, although it is winter, and with her constantly getting pecked or living in a crate for healing, I guess I can't expect her to start. But she is the kindest chicken. She runs up to me (because I'm the only creature she knows that doesn't tear her up!), loves to be petted, even when I'm cleaning her wounds, which have to be painful. She does not complain. Just too sweet, but ugly. lol

    I don't know how to make them stop, but I'm wondering if it's their problem or hers. They get along fine with each other. And although they have a pecking order, the one at the bottom of each flock (the EE for flock 1 and the Buckeye for flock 2) is always fine and never wounded. They're pretty calm birds most of the time. This little DB Leghorn is like the kid that gets bullied no matter how many schools she transfers to. She walks into the flock with her head down, and submissively sits until they peck her and get her running. Then she sticks her head through the fence and just lays there until they walk off. She will NEVER take up for herself at all. I don't know what to do. She wants to be accepted so badly. She tries too hard. She isn't bonded to any other bird, so she's lonely.

    My husband was going to kill her tonight. He said that he just doesn't see a point in keeping her alive. She's not having much of a life this way and we doubt she'll ever function well in a flock. HOWEVER, we have no hens who sit on eggs. Every morning that she has ever been with the other chickens, when we go in to feed/water, this little chicken who has never laid an egg is sitting on eggs laid by other hens. She loves to sit on them. So, I've thought about keeping her to let her try to hatch chicks in the spring. Maybe they would bond with her and she could be the start of Flock #3? Or maybe they'd grow up to torture her too.

    Any ideas much appreciated! I can't help but love her, but she's a lot of work because she keeps needing doctored and separated.
     
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    I'm speaking here as someone that has my share of misfits and handicapped birds, believing that all life is valuable. If you have the space, I would create a third flock. Keep in mind though that just because she likes to sit on eggs, doesn't necessarily mean that she's going to be a genuine broody.
    Come spring you'll have two choices. The best outcome would be that she does go broody, then you can introduce eggs and she can raise up her own flock. If she doesn't go broody, you might end up searching for a few new birds to create her family. In her own coop, with no one to pick on her, any new birds introduced will likely look to her as the matriarch and be less likely to bully her.
    You never know, she may turn out to be an excellent broody and they are worth their weight in gold.
     
  3. aldarita

    aldarita Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am having a similar problem with my EE, she is 8 months old and is at the bottom of the pecking order, she is the biggest of my 9 hens and has such a sweet temperament, I guess this is why she gets pecked all the time and never seems to defend herself. I am like Hey Lady and her dark brown leghorn, it is a predicament because it breaks my heart to see her wanting so badly to belong to the flock. Fortunately the pecking is not that bad as to draw blood or feathers so she stays in the coop and run with the rest. She stopped laying eggs (don't know if it is because of the winter or the pecking).
    I am getting some ameraucana chicks this spring as my second flock, they will have their own coop but will share the same run, maybe as
    gritsar suggests, my EE will be the matriarch of the new chicks (I sure hope so) and will move to their coop.
    Has anybody had any experiences like this?
    I know there is always going to be one at the bottom of the pecking order and I cannot help every one of them but we should try to make their life's better if we can. Hey Lady has a very bad situation, her chickens are murderous. I hope she can help her leghorn somehow.
     
  4. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Just to be clear. It's never a good idea to just add chicks to a coop with a full grown bird(s) without some sort of protection; not even when the adult bird is a shy picked on one. An adult hen can kill chicks that don't belong to her. Chicks should always be protected, preferably in a way where they can be seen but not touched, from older birds; unless the adult bird happens to be their mama. Some folks use a wall made out of hardware cloth (welded wire) to accomplish this. I happen to have an overabundance of wire dog crates and use these when introducing younger birds to adult flocks.
    I once had a situation where I needed a companion for my crossbeak hen Dragon. She hatched with only one other bird, her brother. I had bought a small coop for the two of them to share, but once he reached maturity he wanted to mate Dragon. I couldn't allow this to happen because of her extra small size. What I ended up doing was moving the male into another flock and purchasing an extra small hen, roughly the same age and same size, as a companion for Dragon. At first Dragon was a bit aggressive to the new friend, but being of the same size they were evenly matched. No one got hurt in their disagreements. It didn't take long before they were and still are the best of friends. Even better, Dragon cannot go broody but her friend Widget stays broody. Whenever Widget hatches chicks, she shares them with Dragon.
    Meanwhile in another coop, I have an 9 month old pullet that is at the very bottom of the pecking order. I feel bad for her, but somebody has to be at the bottom and it's her lot in life. She will sometimes hang out with my oldest hens in the coop - four 5 year olds - but more than anyone she has become playmates with...believe it or not...our barn cat. [​IMG] Unlike in HeyLady's situation, my little shy one is not being attacked, just ignored. I've learned to expect the unexpected with chickens and so long as no one is being hurt, leave them to figure it out.
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    How many birds do you have and how much space? A lot of pecking is related to overcrowding.

    It's pretty rare for leghorns to go broody, but it can happen. Personally, I have a sperate coop for by broodies--bantam cochins right now. You could try something like that. Or, you could try rehoming her to someone with a smaller flock, or a bunch of silkies or tophatted birds who themselves usually get picked on?
     
  6. aldarita

    aldarita Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh yeah that is definitely on my plans! I am building a new coop for my ameraucana and cream legbar chicks and also a partition in the run, I would never dare putting them together until they are the same size and they have been in the "just look not touch" situation for a long time. It makes things a lot easier when they integrate (I hope so).
    You know, you are absolutely right, the more I think about it I should not worry so much about my EE, she seems to be doing fine and adapting to being at the bottom of the pecking order and as long as she is not being hurt, she should do fine.Hopefully she will make friends with the ameraucana pullets once they are integrated.
    Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences with us newbies, we are just beginning to experience all these chicken behaviors and it helps a lot to have somebody telling us their experiences
     
  7. HeyLady

    HeyLady Out Of The Brooder

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    Space is certainly not the issue. I have read up on space and made sure that each hen had more than the minimum space in both coops and runs, and they also get out to free range now and then (the two flocks do not free range simultaneously).

    I am beginning to wonder if somehow I am wrong about her age. My husband and I thought that when we got her, Asia (the brown leghorn, that's her name) was about 12 weeks old. However, I think we may have been way off. So, if she is about a month, maybe a month and a half younger than we thought, and the other hens are attacking her because she is pretty much a chick, maybe?

    I do know that she doesn't have much of a comb, and it's pink. At what age should it turn red? It will turn red eventually, won't it?

    When we got her, I think she looked something like this, but not sure about the tail.. it may have been a bit further developed/feathered:
    [​IMG]
    Her legs are even gray/pink. I know that's not typical for leghorns and she was probably poorly bred. I think her skin is also gray, since I'm seeing more of it lately. :(

    Do you think age could be the problem here? We have had her for 3 months. If we were correct on her age when we got her, she'd be 28 or so weeks old now, but I suppose if we were wrong she could be 21 weeks, which makes more sense for why she is so little. Either way, she is probably too young, right? When would she be old enough to join the flock of those barely a year old?
     
  8. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Do you have any other pics of her, or can you take some (particularly side views)?
     
  9. aleebama

    aleebama Out Of The Brooder

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    I had a bantam mutt that was in a similar situation. She was tortured to the point that I placed roosts about 8 feet high in the run and near the roof in the coop. She was small and light and could fly up there to get away from the big meanies. She went broody on a batch of infertile eggs (no rooster at the time). We slipped 4 chicks under her and she was thrilled to become their momma. She became a fierce protector of her babies. Now they are 10 months old. No one picks on or bothers her. I wonder if the same thing would happen for yours?
     

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