Hen pecking frustration!!!!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by AmeliaRB, Apr 1, 2018.

  1. AmeliaRB

    AmeliaRB In the Brooder

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    Apr 1, 2018
    Lubbock, Texas
    My Coop
    My flock of 4 hens is 1 year old. Everything has been going beautifully until recently. I have been noticing that all but 1 of my hens are missing most of their feathers at the base of their tails, under their wings, and some have bare behinds! Thankfully there hasn’t been any blood. I have used blukote just to disguise the flesh. I finally decided to separate the main pecker. She is in a wire dog crate next to the run. She has been in there for 1 week. Now, the chicken that might have been considered 2nd in command has commenced the pecking. The 2 main peckers are Wyandottes. I plan on keeping the one chicken separated for another week (2 weeks total) and then reintroducing her. If the situation does not settle down, I have the option to rehome her. Here is my main question. Any suggestions on this segregation thing I’m doing? What about the other
    Chicken that has stepped up to head pecker? And lastly, would adding a few more chickens to the flock maybe level it out? I have 4 chickens, I have added protein such as boss, leafy greens and meal worms to their diets. Their run is enormous. They have several activities in their run including a pile of leaves, roosts, and treat bottles. I think most of the pecking is occurring in the coop at night? In observing before segregation, I did notice the main offender chasing a few around to pluck their fluff and she would eat it. The new pecker doesn’t seem to eat the feathers, she is just mean. But again, I think it’s mainly occurring in the coop. Thank you in advance for your advice and guidance. This chicken momma is at a true loss!!!

    ***edit***I should also add they these girls have been free ranging itnin the yard for several months until the hubs got tired of the amount of poop on the porch. They now have a nice fenced in run (22x12) but the pecking did get worse after we put them in a run.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2018
  2. nminusyplusm

    nminusyplusm Crowing

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    Welcome to BYC! And sorry you're having problems!

    How big is their coop? What feed do the give them and have you checked the date on the bag?
     
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  3. AmeliaRB

    AmeliaRB In the Brooder

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    Apr 1, 2018
    Lubbock, Texas
    My Coop
    The part of their coop where they sleep is pretty small. They all sleep on the same roosting bar. They all snuggle up together on it. There is probably enough room for another 2-3 birds on the bar, but that’s it. They are able to leave the coop as soon as they wish in the morning. The feed I give them is Nutrena 16% and I couldn’t find an expiration on the bag. Also, I added an edit to my post. Please read. Thanks for your response.
     
  4. nminusyplusm

    nminusyplusm Crowing

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    Good info in your edit, thanks!

    Even though your run size is generous, the fact that the problem worsened when they were confined to it points to at least some of this being due to space issues. Maybe the normal jostling for position that goes on at bedtime is just a bit more stressful in a smaller coop. I've noticed with my flock of 5 that the girl at the bottom of the pecking order appreciates lots of extra coop and roost space to get away from the more aggressive #2 and #3 girls before everyone settles in for the night.

    Does your run have hiding places to give picked on chickens relief?

    A higher protein feed (18-20%) might help too.
     
  5. AmeliaRB

    AmeliaRB In the Brooder

    15
    13
    49
    Apr 1, 2018
    Lubbock, Texas
    My Coop
    Thank you. To be honest, it just registered with me when writing this thread that it has intensified since the free range has become more limited. I still try to let the girls out each day for around an hour. I have heard about providing a hiding place, but no, I don’t really have anything right now. All good things to consider. I can also provide another roosting area in the coop for night time. Will probably have to help the girls figure it out and hopefully they will take to it. What do you think about adding more chickens? (I am having spring fever and really want to get 2 Dominique chicks). .) Of course they wouldn’t be a part of the flock for awhile, but wondering if adding more might help improve the dynamic by adding in more personalities?
     
  6. nminusyplusm

    nminusyplusm Crowing

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    I think adding more chickens will only make it worse. You should solve the behavior issues before introducing a new stressful situation.

    I added bales of straw in my run when I had a bully problem so the bottom pullet could remove herself from her aggressor's line of sight. You could also try leaning a pallet or 2 against the sides of your run to create a perch/tunnel, just be sure you don't make a dead end with whatever enrichment you add where a girl could get cornered.
     
    LittleCheepers likes this.

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