Hen pecking at other hen when treats are given

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mrskenmore, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. mrskenmore

    mrskenmore Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi All,

    I have three hens that are 8 months old and up until recently they really always seemed to enjoy each others company within their pecking order. Recently my "Ameraucana- EE" has been displaying some violent behavior towards my Barred Rock hen when treats are given. It is usually a snack of oatmeal, B O sunflower seeds, mealworms and the EE will jump on the head of the BR and peck at her comb. The BR is bigger and heavier than the EE, but that doesn't seem to matter. I understand that there is a natural pecking order and don't want to get in the way of mother nature. But I am at a loss for what to do other than to stop giving treats (they usually get them 4-5 times a week when I need them to go to their coop mid day or if it is snowing out I sprinkle the ground so they have something to do) I was so saddened when it happened in front of me today and the EE drew blood on my BR's comb. Is the EE hungry? I find it odd that it is only her comb and it is only when it is treats- not during regular feeding or watering or perching or sleeping. They get along fine all other times. Any thoughts on what is going on and how I can get her to stop pecking my BR's comb bloody?

    Thanks everyone!
     
  2. WNCcluck

    WNCcluck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How many birds do you have? What percentage of their daily diet do they get in treats?

    You may find that their diet is "treat heavy" which can mess things up a bit. If you're not treat heavy, you may want to try two oatmeal bowls.

    It seems most "arguments" among stable flocks (not new introductions) are related to food. When any of our birds are molting, we have two feeding stations on opposite sides of the run so the molters can eat away from the non-molters. Of course, they switch stations regularly when the non-molters think the molters have something special.

    We have eight older girls of various breeds in a run that's 8x16.
     
  3. mrskenmore

    mrskenmore Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi WNCcluck,

    We have three hens total, and the only problem is between these two. They get access to food and water all day and a hanging suet cage of veggies every morning (they only free range on weekends) They currently do not fight over the suet cage of veggies- only the treats that I hand sprinkle on the ground or in the run which I would say makes up about 20% of their diet. They have a 9 x 4' run and a 3' x 4' coop. I once did feed them their treats separately and there was no problem. I guess I can go back to that. My thought is that the smaller one (EE) is becoming aggressive because she is hungry- the bigger one (BR always gets the treat food first) and now the EE won't stand for it anymore...

    Thoughts?
     
  4. WNCcluck

    WNCcluck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    20% seems like too much in the treat category. I'd back off on those some and maybe put them in something rather than scattered on the ground. We have an old bird feeder which is actually a very short table with fine mesh in it to allow drainage. We've taken to putting treats in that because the girls can gather around it and not be pushing and shoving to get things on the ground.

    The other thing you might try is using one of those squirrel bungees to hang treats. Again, they can all reach the treat at the same time and may even enjoy playing tetherball. Ours get cabbage from time to time on a bungee. It's a hoot to watch.

    It sounds like your instinct about the EE being tired of being pushed around is on target. I'll be interested to see what others say.
     
  5. mrskenmore

    mrskenmore Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks WNCcluck,

    I am not going to give any treats this week (other than their daily suet cage of veggies) and see how it goes. I hung a half a head of cabbage in the run today on a bungee cord and everyone is happy. That is a good idea about putting the other seed type treats in a bag so they all have equal access. It just breaks my heart to see the little one (EE) drawing blood on the big one (BR)- I also got some rooster peck no more so my BR can heal in peace. I hope my not introducing treats and only hanging their veggies that things will get better. I am also going to make sure there is ample food available at all times since I wonder if only giving them a days worth was not sufficient enough for them. I also had read about hens that peck being deficient in protein. I may see if I can feed my EE separately some protein and see if things improve.
     
  6. WNCcluck

    WNCcluck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds like a plan. Do let me know if it all works out. I have one girl who gets to be a bit of a bully sometimes. Thankfully, she's never drawn blood on any of the others.
     
  7. mrskenmore

    mrskenmore Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I will- thanks for your help... I wouldn't care if she was just being a bully- but when she jumps on her head and pecks at her comb scarring her and drawings blood- that is when "mom" has to step in. I get they are chickens and have a pecking order- but there is no need for her to be that nasty over a mealworm!! (although maybe they are just that good) [​IMG]
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    When I give my 15 birds foods other than the regular feed, I spread them out in coop or run to avoid pecking order issues.

    Small flocks of 2-4 seem to have exacerbated pecking order issues, not enough birds to 'spread the love'.......space may be an issue also.
     
  9. WNCcluck

    WNCcluck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Good point.
     
  10. mrskenmore

    mrskenmore Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I thought I had enough space- 36 sq ft for the run and 12 sq ft for the coop? for three hens? we may build them a run extension of that helps.
     

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