Hen vs. Teens -- One meanie is ruining it! Advice-- SpeckHen, MsPris!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by arwmommy, May 3, 2008.

  1. arwmommy

    arwmommy Songster

    Apr 13, 2007
    Advice from ANYONE appreciated!

    Heres the scoop:

    I have three one-year-old bantam Cochins, and six 10-week-old bantams (cochins, EE, Mille Fleur).

    We brooded the babies inside, and from the time they were a week old, they freeranged in a fenced in area where they could see the big girls, but the big girls couldn't "get" them. We really wanted to do this merging the two little flocks together as early as possible.

    At about 5 weeks, we started letting them free range together, watching very closely. Our 3 big girls have very distinct personalities-- The Alpha (June) basicly chased the babies a tiny bit but really kind of ignored them. The girl on the bottom of the totem pole (Lana), just accepted them and was very interested in just hanging out with them. It is the girl that is Second In Command (Faye) that is having issues.

    From the beginning, Faye would chase them as soon as she saw them. She would give one a peck and they would all scatter, being much faster than she is (she is a bantam, but is TWICE as big *easily* as the other 2 hens!). She would dust bathe for a while, then beeline over to the babies and chase them. Being as she never beat up any of them (they escaped!) I left them alone to figure it out. I always watched, but really wanted them to figure out the pecking order. The babies now run as soon as she even acts like she is coming their way!

    At 6 weeks, we fenced off an area inside the run to put the babies in, thinking that the constant sight of them and interaction with them would calm Faye down. That didn't work. She still chased them constantly.

    At 8 weeks, I propped the babies door open so they could go into the run, and come back into their baby area, but the opening was too small for the big girls, so they could *escape* and be safe. They only go into the run in the morning, before we have let the big girls out of their house, and as soon as they see Faye, they run to their baby area and stay there ALL DAY. They don't even TRY to come out.

    Last week, at 9 weeks, I made their baby area smaller, in an attempt to make them want to spend more time in the run with the big girls. No luck. They are still in the baby area all day. When I let them out to free range today, Meanie Faye was laying an egg in the coop, and the remaining 2 big girls and the 6 babies free ranged together and did perfectly-- just like they had been friends forever.

    Tonight, frustrated with Faye, I put HER in the baby area, and put the babies in the hen house overnight with the other 2 big girls. The big girls were roosting and the babies settled into a corner, with no issues at all.

    I am so frustrated I don't know what to do! I feel like we have been trying to do this transition for so long! I know you are supposed to wait until the babies are about the same size as the big girls to merge, and right now the babies are about 1/2 to 2/3 the size of the two girls, but as I said before, Faye is HUGE even compared the other two (her same hatch and breed siblings), so I am not confident that the babies will *ever* be close to her size!! Is there anything I can do (squirt her with a spray bottle?), to train her? Do I just always have a small "safe area" for the babies? Do I have to get rid of her?

    I feel like I have tried to give it time, and after seeing absolutely NO change in her aggressiveness is not looking hopeful for me.

    Last edited: May 3, 2008
  2. Mini Coop

    Mini Coop Songster

    You can keep them separate until the babies are pretty much full grown. She'll still pick on them but gradually they'll all adapt. The babies will always be a group, I noticed that when I had a new group of chicks, they stuck together even when they grew up.

    Another option is to eat Faye or find another home for her. But, if you wait everything will be alright.
  3. lemurchaser

    lemurchaser Songster

    Apr 11, 2008
    Corvallis, OR
    What about a squirt bottle or squirt gun and you can correct her bad behavior. It may take some time, but that's what I'd try.
  4. johnmayersquare

    johnmayersquare Let's Talk About Chicks, Man!

    Nov 17, 2007
    Port Orchard, WA
    I use a spray bottle on my puppies when they are being naughty.........it seems to curb the bad behavior a bit.
  5. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    10 weeks old is kind of young but you're on the right track. You'll probably have better luck at 16-20 weeks old when the babies aren't so much of big babies any more and are more willing to assert some defense.

    The little ones will have to learn to not step on the toes of the top hen, and the top hen is making sure that nobody gets out of line.

    From seeing the experiences of others, don't intervene unless there is bloodshed. It just reinforces that beating on the little ones makes the little ones go away, ie. you take them out of the "danger".

    They will have to fight it out. It's not easy or pretty, but needs to be done.
  6. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    I agree with silkie, that 10 weeks is a little young, but it just makes it look more brutal to you. If they can get out of the way, they'll be fine. I usually dont put them with the flock till about 12-14 weeks, but sometimes you just have to do it sooner. If no blood is being drawn, you may just have to let it be worked out. Sometimes, they get tired of chasing the newbies and the attacks get more half-hearted.

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