Help with Bullying!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by scjcb37, Feb 18, 2018.

  1. scjcb37

    scjcb37 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Looking for advice...came home today and my (bottom of the pecking order) chicken had had her head pecked until bloody. Did my best to take a picture to attach. I have cleaned her wounds and seperated her (she is in the garage until she heals). The problem is, she is stressing over the separation/move to an unfamiliar place. Any advice is truly appreciated. .
     

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  2. JudysMuscovy

    JudysMuscovy Chillin' With My Peeps

    I would put another hen with her + but make sure you put blue kote or veterycin so the other hen doesn't Peck at the blood.
     
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  3. scjcb37

    scjcb37 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    TY, I will put one of the other girls with her. I have put Veterycin on her. Thank you for the advice!
    @
     
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  4. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

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    Believe or not, but this is entirely normal. Brutal, perhaps, but normal in chicken society. Each chicken in the flock has a rank from top to bottom. Usually, when an individual challenges rank, we don't even notice because the conflict is over so quickly.

    Occasionally a conflict can be extended when the two parties refuse to accept the outcome. They keep at each other until one backs down. The comb is the main target for this physical dueling. And as luck would have it, it's rich in blood supply, so bleeding can be profuse.

    Blu-kote can heal as well as help disguise the wound to prevent further pecking. But do not separate this hen from the flock. You will only make matters much worse for her when you return her as she will have lost the rank she fought so hard to obtain.

    Watch her as you return her to the flock. If she's at the very bottom of the pecking order, there should be no one to bother challenging her. If she aggressively goes after another hen, you will know then that she is challenging the next in rank in order to move up from the bottom.

    On the other hand, if several hens converge on her when she's returned, beating the crap out of her, then you will know that she's the victim of bullying and not normal pecking order skirmishes. If she flattens herself to the ground, and they all stand on top of her, you definitely have a serious case of bullying and victim, and you need to intervene.

    Come back and let us know what happens when you return her to the flock. I have some advice for handling the victim of extreme bullying if that turns out to be the case.
     
  5. scjcb37

    scjcb37 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you azygous for the advice. She is not one to challenge another chicken whatsoever . She keeps to herself, avoids any situation where she may 'be in anothers way'.She has always been 'the bottom' of the flock- she will eat last, drink last, take what is left of treats. She will start eating the scratch or treats with the rest, but many times another will come over and eat what she was trying to eat and she will just walk away and let them have it. So I'm really not sure what provoked this today. But it has me stressed :(
     
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  6. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

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    Please re-read what I wrote about observing the precise sequence of events as you return her to the flock. You will be right there to intervene if things develop into a gang-bang. It's very important to know if she is okay with being ranked last in the social order or if she may be attempting to challenge her rank.

    And we need confirmation that she's being victimized in a violent manner by several in the flock at once. This can be addressed. Have you already observed this hen getting thrashed by several hens at once or are you assuming it from the amount of blood you found on her comb?

    There's nothing unusual with how you describe her acquiescence when confronted by other hens at the feeder. This is typical of the lowest in the pecking order. What's not typical or normal is the lowest ranked getting the crap beat out of them by several hens at once for no other reason than the hen has become a victim both in the eyes of the flock and her own eyes. That will need to be addressed if it's confirmed to be the issue.
     
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  7. scjcb37

    scjcb37 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks again azygous...No, that is what i am saying. I have never witnessed anyone be physical in any way, they all just seem to accept their position in the group, so i dont know what happened..im at a loss

     
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  8. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

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    What exactly are you at a loss to understand?

    If you haven't witnessed this hen being victimized by several hens at once, then there really is no problem.

    Your injured hen likely stood up to a hen just above her in rank and a conflict occurred where her comb was bloodied. The conflict has likely been settled and nothing will happen when you return the hen to the flock.

    However, if you wait to return her, then there could be another battle as this hen may need to fight her way back into the pecking order since the flock penalizes a chicken that returns after being absent.

    If this happens, just let it happen. It should be over in seconds and everyone will go back to business as usual.

    If you see something on the order of a gang ambush, then we have a problem. If it's just her and one other hen fighting, there is no problem.
     
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  9. JudysMuscovy

    JudysMuscovy Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have 12 hens and I have never seen any agression amongst any of them. They all get along well and all know their place in the flock.
    If I had one bleeding I would separate her also.
     
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  10. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

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    The pecking order is constantly in motion. It changes frequently. Small challenges to rank usually go completely unnoticed by us humans because they can be very subtle. Occasionally, you may see two stubborn individuals who refuse to permit their ranks to change. When neither can agree to a rank change, there can be conflict, from mild to rather violent, complete with neck feathers flaring and talons out front. Yes, and lots of blood from bitten and torn combs.

    Those who insist their flock never have any conflicts have chickens that are agreeable to settling rank very quickly and efficiently. But rank does change. I've seen a very meek hen that was constantly pecked and driven away from the feeder move up in rank so that eight years later she occupies the number two spot in the flock. By the way, her comb was torn nearly completely from her scalp twice during the time she was at the bottom of the pecking order from fights she willingly participated in.

    A bleeding comb is a superficial injury for the most part. I pick up the hen, take her inside for a bit of first aid, I put Blu-kote on the injury once the bleeding stops, and then I return her immediately to the flock.

    Very rarely, I will have a hen that is being badly victimized by several others. This is due to the hen having lost her self confidence for some reason, she views herself as a victim. This perpetuates a vicious cycle since the flock reinforces the victim's belief in her own victim-hood, and the flock is even more driven to punishing her for being a victim. Then I need to intervene with some special treatment of this hen. However, at no time is she removed from the flock as that only aggravates the situation and does no favors for the victim.
     

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