Hen is destined for freezer camp, unless someone has any bright ideas!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by kathrync, Jan 23, 2015.

  1. kathrync

    kathrync Out Of The Brooder

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    I've been trying to integrate 2 new Red Star pullets into my little flock of 3, but my dominant hen "Goldie" simply won't have it!

    For a few weeks I kept the new pullets in a separate grow-out coop and let them free range around my yard with the old hens for an hour or so each day, so they could get used to each other. Two of my original hens have accepted the new ones just fine. The trouble is, my coop is an A-frame chicken tractor like this one: http://catawbacoops.com/picture-gallery.html, so it is practically impossible to segregate the hens from each other within the coop. For the first few days together, the poor new girls were too afraid to come outside of the sleeping/nesting area to eat because Goldie would attack them ruthlessly. I tried putting Goldie and one other old hen in the grow-out pen for a couple of days to see if she would simmer down, but it just stressed both of them out and Goldie started eating her own eggs! So... I put them both back into the tractor and started letting Goldie free range all day just to keep her away from the new girls. I left a separate nesting box outside for her so she could lay. But Goldie still has the nasty habit of eating her eggs. I've tried to pay attention to when she's about to lay an egg so I can confiscate the egg before she breaks it, but it's just too much work for me. It's a real shame because she's my best layer [​IMG]

    I'm starting to wonder if it would just be better to get rid of Goldie, and in a year or two down the road, cull or give away my entire flock and start over with a batch of new chickens that are already used to each other. (I already have four little rugrats of my own to keep from killing each other, so I don't have time to keep tabs on fighting hens all day!) Does that seem cruel of me? I'm just so over this situation! I'm honestly doubtful that anything can be done to remedy the problem... so I guess I'm just ranting to make myself feel better [​IMG]
     
  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    If she has truly settled in on eating her own eggs as a habit (and not due to soft shells or no dark place to lay eggs) she will teach the others to eat their eggs, too. It may be that this isn't a habit for her yet, if it has only been a few days. I have seen hens do that and then stop eating them. The key is DARK nest boxes. So the more they can see the eggs, the more tempted they are to eat them.

    So I would say that it is pretty much an emergency to get her to dark nest boxes, somehow. Or get rid of her.

    You can put a pinless peeper on her (chicken blinders) so she cannot peck the other chickens or eat her eggs easily. Some have luck with them and some don't - I have never tried them. They may hurt her vision in the long run I have been reading too but I don't know.
     
  3. Free Feather

    Free Feather Chillin' With My Peeps

    This does not sound like anything too out of the ordinary. She has been in a very tiny group for a while, and then one day some strangers plop into her life. She is the dominant hen. She sounds very stressed out. She might take a while to get over it. If it is too much for you to handle, give her to someone else. She will likely not like that change either, but it is better than dying.
     
  4. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    x2, chickens hate change. Can you let them all out to free range together, leaving the coop open so everyone has access? What you're seeing is her ruthlessly attacking the newcomers, what she sees is she's defending her spot in the pecking order (which I'm guessing is at the top). If they're all out in the open yard when they have to work through things, there's more space to get away from each other and likely less fighting since there are also more distractions. Even if the new girls stay in the coop and the old flock ranges, the newbies might at least make their way into the run.

    Anyway, this is just how they are. Strangers aren't good, and that's what the new hens are, strange. They're going to have to get together at some point and find their places. It sucks to watch, but its what they do. If your meanie isn't drawing blood on the new girls, leave her to it so they can just hurry up and get over it with. If you can't do that, you might consider rehoming her.

    Good luck!
     
  5. kathrync

    kathrync Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the responses! I will definitely try making her separate nest box darker, maybe I'll put a curtain over the opening and see if that helps. I really don't want to let all five of them free range around my yard all day because we would be swimming in chicken doo-doo. I have 4 children under the age of 8 and contamination is a real concern for me. (not to mention, I don't have the time to find and scoop that much poop every day.) I do let them range together for about an hour before sunset, and they've been doing that for several months. For now, I think I will just continue to keep Goldie outside of the coop during the day and give her a separate nest box with curtain. At least that way she can't teach the others how to eat eggs. And we'll see if she stops eating her eggs. If not, there's a farm in the town next door that processes chickens for $5 each.

    *sigh*

    Yeah, I really don't want to kill her. If I had a bunch of chickens and tons of eggs, it wouldn't be such a big deal. But if I kill her I automatically lose 1/5 of my flock!
     
  6. darina

    darina Chillin' With My Peeps

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  7. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

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    What will help is pinless peepers. They get held on by 2 tips that go inside the nose and rest on the beak. They block some of their sight and it may slow her down a bit. They do not hurt. I've put them on overly romantic rossters from time to time. They are cheap on Ebay
     
  8. Free Feather

    Free Feather Chillin' With My Peeps

    If your run is as small as what is on the coop you showed us, that might be your biggest problem. That is very tiny! If they are so close to each other, it is no wonder she picks on them. Proper integration takes space. The chickens crapping in the yard will likely do your children no harm, unless you manage poorly and in turn have disease.
     
  9. chickengr

    chickengr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    my pullet is bullying everyone but I figured out that she is jealous. I got her together with the other 4 and the first time she pecked the other chicken was when I called it beautiful. it sounds stupid, but every time my pullet starts to bully I simply talk to her and tell her she is beautiful. she looks at me as if she is posing in front of the camera and forgets about bullying. I got 2 new chickens the other day which are one third of her size but I spent a lot of time talking to her and after 3 days of heavy bullying she stopped. when I watch them through the window they might even eat together but if I am near she does not let them eat.

    as for the egg eating unfortunately I know nothing.
     
  10. Free Feather

    Free Feather Chillin' With My Peeps

    That is cute!
     

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