Help with an Aggressive Hen Problem

CalBickieMomma

Songster
Jul 27, 2019
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San Luis Obispo County, CA
Hello chicken peeps! So here is the situation:

I have a mixed flock of 3 month old pullets (9 girls), one cockerel (I hope), and a Guinea fowl (a male from what I can tell) who have been living in the coop/run for several weeks now. My older girl (Alice, a 6 year old Barred Rock) was in an area I had fenced off inside the run (so in full view of the new flock). After a few weeks or so, I would let her out with the Littles (under supervision). She would peck at them, but nothing severe, and they all soon learned she was the boss (they now generally flee if she comes near them and I haven't seen her bully anyone and have seen no evidence of it taking place while I'm gone from the house for the day).

I also have an Easter Egger (Holly) I took on from a friend (she showed up in their yard and they never found the owner). I'm not sure how old she is, but she lays an egg every day or every other day, and is generally a nice bird. Holly is in the area Alice used to be in (because Alice has behaved well enough she's allowed to be in the large coop/run full-time).

I tried integrating Alice and Holly before the younger chickens went outside, but it ended up in a fighting match (no blood, but full on pecking, kicking, and flapping wings at one another), so Holly went back into the side pens.

Today, I tried to let Holly out (under supervision) and it went well until Alice walked up and pecked her. Holly went into the submissive rooster squat, and I figured things would have been fine but Alice didn't back off and the two got into a fight. Holly then proceeded to attack the other young chickens and even got into it with my Guinea fowl. She is now back in her compartment.

SO, my question is this: do they just need more time in separate pens (Holly came home with me in July), or should I let Alice and Holly duke it out? I've thought of maybe holding Holly in my lap and let everyone come check her out, and just keep doing that (or try to let her have coop/run time under supervision more often until the aggression dissipates).

I should also state that my cockerel (a Buff Orpington named Gerard) is terrified of Alice at the moment. As he matures, will his presence help ease the situation?

Anyhoo, if anyone has experience with this sort of situation, please let me know. I really would like to have Holly living with the entire flock (I have a few bantam hens and a little roo I want to eventually put in the side compartment space and might need the other attached coop/run to keep my Polish girls in case I feel Gerard the Buff Orpington will them due to his size).

THANK YOU!!!

P.S. My dad and I are expanding the run space. It's currently about 110 sq. ft. and we're adding on a 12' x 16' area (half of which I want to section off for the Guinea fowl if/when he gets really aggressive during breeding season), so the coop/run will be gaining another 96 sq. ft.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
99,293
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SW Michigan
My Coop
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The older girls are going to have to work things out.
Holly is the newbie, so everyone wants a piece of her and she's gonna strike back.
Space is a problem...how soon until you get that run extended?
What does your run look like?
Subordinate birds need to be able to 'get away'(4-6 feet) from their 'superiors'.
If it's bare, add some 'hiding places',
here's some ideas:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/a-cluttered-run.1323792/
 

ValerieJ

Straw parade on snow day
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 24, 2016
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Washington State
I'm so happy Aart came in with advice. I have never handled aggressive chickens well. Roosters get culled at the first site of blood. But, aggressive hens don't go that far, they just pull the feathers out. I have recently lost my aggressive hen to a predator, and all is peaceful in chickenland again.

I agree with space and obstacles. One thing I like to give to my chickens is more space than they know what to do with. :wee
 

CalBickieMomma

Songster
Jul 27, 2019
928
1,728
246
San Luis Obispo County, CA
The older girls are going to have to work things out.
Holly is the newbie, so everyone wants a piece of her and she's gonna strike back.
Space is a problem...how soon until you get that run extended?
What does your run look like?
Subordinate birds need to be able to 'get away'(4-6 feet) from their 'superiors'.
If it's bare, add some 'hiding places',
here's some ideas:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/a-cluttered-run.1323792/

Thanks for the advice!
We have most of the frame of the extension finished, so I’m hoping the large space will be done within the next few weeks (we are able to work on it here and there depending on our schedules :p). I’m also hoping to incorporate a chicken jungle gym at some point in time (they currently have the skeleton of an old dwarf lemon tree to hang out on, but it doesn’t hold everyone).
Fortunately, I do have that side compartment that’ll keep the peace for now. I’ll just keep trying to give Holly a little bit of full coop time when I’m in there and put her back in her space if things get crazy.
Thanks again!
 

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