Hen terrorizing pullets

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Petra Pancake

Jul 15, 2016
In the suburbs of Tel Aviv
Help! I’ve got 3 chickens that don’t get along with each other at all. Maybe it’s partially my fault. 3 months ago I bought my first ever chickens, 2 pullets (mixed breed, barnyard mutts) who were about 4 months old at the time. They were nice, quiet and docile birds but just never started laying eggs. When they were more than 6 months old, I lost patience and bought a grown-up laying hen (also a barnyard mutt, from the same farmer). I had wanted to keep her separate at first in a dog kennel, but it didn’t work out. Having nowhere to put her, I had to drop her straight into the coop with the pullets. She immediately started beating them up and chasing them around the coop. She’s been doing that ever since, for almost a month. They are about the same size as she, but she dominates them ruthlessly and barely permits them to get food or water. I started putting food in 2 different places but she still chases the pullets away from both food spots, even if she has to run to and fro between them. She also doesn’t roost with them in the closed part of the coop but roosts alone on an old chair in the open section. The pullets are terrified of her and spend a lot of their time squeezed into the corners of the coop. They still don’t lay eggs despite being 7 months old now. They refuse to go out into the run when she’s out and just stay in the coop all day. They don’t seem to understand that in the run they would have a lot more space to get away from the hen. On the other hand, my monster hen is a beautiful chicken and lays about 5 eggs per week, which is why I got chickens in the first place, so I’m reluctant to give her away – after all, so far she’s my only layer. Any ideas? Should I just permanently separate them and keep the hen alone? Or would putting in a fourth chicken even things out? (That would make the small coop rather crowded, though).
Also, since your older hen is trying to dominate both feeding stations, put something that blocks her view so she cannot see the other feeder or them ... and in a few other places around the run. You could use a board propped so it doesn't fall down, a flower pot, a crate, a bale of straw, etc. Space these things so the pullets can go around them, hop on them, etc. Never sit them right by the screen, leave space so they can go around them too.

Still would use the pin-less peepers on her.

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