hen getting picked on

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by olyhens, Dec 16, 2015.

  1. olyhens

    olyhens New Egg

    Dec 16, 2015
    Olympia, WA
    I have 6 hens, 3 bard rock, 3 buff orpingtons all about 18 months old. They have all gotten along until a few days ago. One of the bards is just coming out of a molt and the other day when I let them out to free range for a bit, she refused to go back into the coop. I picked her up and put her in, but I noticed that she ran around like she was afraid of the others. She doesn't have any marks on her body to make me think that she is getting picked on, but when she is around the other 5 she runs like she is afraid and sometimes one of them chases her. Today I noticed one of the hens actually pecking at her. I have her separated right now, but I'm just wondering what would cause this behavior?
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs I Wanna Be A Cowboy Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Has she molted or in the middle of a molt, they get uncomfortable during it and often start acting nutty, the sky is falling syndrome, the other hens are reacting to her behavior by pecking her because they aren't liking it, I'm also going to guess that she's at the bottom of the pecking order.

    How big is your coop and run, if they can't get away from each other in a smaller set up it can cause the behavior to escalate. I wouldn't separate them unless blood is being drawn or you could make it harder on the separated one when you try to put them back. I would also make sure there are places she can hide, under, over, inside on the other side of, so she can feel more comfortable.
  3. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Hey there olyhens Welcome to BYC [​IMG]

    I agree with oldhenlikesdogs in that moulting hens can be very sensitive when their pin feathers are coming through and just the slightest touch can be uncomfortable for them; I recommend not picking her up unless you really have to.

    My bantam Langshan has been through two hard moults and both times she kept her distance from the flock but being 2IC, was not subjected to any bullying.

    If your gal is lower down on the pecking order and feeling a little uncomfortable and sorry for herself, the others will pick up on her ‘weakness’. If there are hens lower than her on the pecking order they might see this as an opportunity to move up.

    Agreed that lots of places where she can have some alone time is a good idea and also, if you can, increase her protein intake to assist with the feather regrowth.

    Also agree that if you separate her for too long integration back into the flock and reshuffling of the pecking order might be worse than what she is going through now.
  4. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    Yep, don't take her out of the flock or it will get worse when you try to put her back in.
  5. olyhens

    olyhens New Egg

    Dec 16, 2015
    Olympia, WA
    Thanks, everyone for your helpful replies. She is coming out of a hard molt, almost all feathers have grown back, or at least started to grow back. She really is acting "nutty" and, yes, I think the others are just reacting to her behavior. I've joined her with the rest of the flock and hopefully they can all work this out without drawing any blood!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by