Hen won't stop pecking and chasing the pullets

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by myfivegirls, Sep 28, 2010.

  1. myfivegirls

    myfivegirls Songster

    Jan 12, 2009
    Delhi, NY
    One of my RIR hens, Roseblossom, won't stop pecking and chasing the pullets. They've been outside together since July, and have been sharing the same chicken coop for over a month. The pullets are now 23 wks old, just about 3/4 the size of the two RIR hens. The other morning, I watched some of the Red Star pullets, who were in the nesting box, getting ready to lay, and "Roseblossom" get into the nesting box (I have one big one) and started pecking the pullets that were in the nesting box. It wasn't just a "gentle" little tap, and she didn't stop, so I removed her. I few minutes later, she came back. Poor little "Faith" was trying to lay an egg, and she didn't want to leave, so she just cowered and kept getting pecked. Finally, I decided to give Roseblossom a "time-out" while the others laid their eggs. Once three of them had laid their egg, I released Roseblossom. By then, her "sister", Lily, had gone into the nesting box. Roseblossom pecked her, also, but Lily just turned the other way, and they both stayed in the nesting box.

    That evening, I put hardware cloth in the nesting box, so that it became "two" nesting boxes, since we built it quite large (6 + pullets can be in it at the same time). That has seemed to work, although, I haven't been able to observe them again and see if Roseblossom leaves them alone if they go into the "other" nest. I'm thinking of putting up another nesting box inside the new chicken coop, but the way chickens are, they may just continue using their "favorite" nesting box.

    Tonight, I had to refill their feed, and they all came running to eat it. It's a round "bucket" feeder that I've placed in the middle of the chicken coop addition. As usual, Roseblossom and Lily were the first ones to start eating. The pullets tried to eat some, too, but Roseblossom kept pecking and chasing them away. They went round and round the feeder, and sometimes two RIRs were the only ones eating any feed. Roseblossom even chased one of them back into the other section of the coop, then went back to eating.

    Maybe a month or so ago, I used two feeders, both accessible to the older and younger chickens. It worked a little better, but the RIRs still guarded one of the feeders. I could go back to that system, but I just wanted to make more room in the chicken coop, plus not have to fill up two feeders.

    I was hoping that these two different age groups of chickens would be compatable, not having to have separate nesting boxes and feeders; most of the "introducing younger chicks to older hens" topics haven't indicated that they have this much of a problem after months of being together. I followed all the advice that the people on BYC had suggested for this, in going slow and carefully, etc.

    If there's something that I could could do to help, I'd like to know. I don't want the pullets to have to put up with these two "trouble-makers" all day long during the winter, when they have nowhere else to go.

  2. tuesdays chicks

    tuesdays chicks Songster

    Apr 26, 2010
    stuart florida
    I only had 1 nest box until I found a hidden nest, but mine wasn't large enough for all the birds at 1 time maybe a few pullets but it would only fit the bo hen by herself so I guessed that the pullet couldn't get in to lay 1 day so she found another spot, so I made another nest box outside the coop, and they all use both nests on different days, somedays I'll have all the eggs in 1 nest other days its 2 and 1 but I haven't had any more hidden eggs since I made another nest. oh and locked them up for a few days. Is your coop and run large enough for the amount of chickens you have?
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Take the two troublemakers and put them in chickie jail for a few days, totally seperate from the rest of the flock. That should knock them down a few pegs on the pecking order ladder and they'll be singing a different tune when re-introduced.
  4. OregonChickenGal

    OregonChickenGal Songster

    Jul 26, 2010
    Central Oregon
    Quote:If that doesn't work, you may have to separate permanently. That's what I had to do. Because if you don't, it will eventually affect the egg laying. Good luck.
  5. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Songster

    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA

    I keep them out for at least a week, a few days isn't always enough with a really dominant bird. It would probably help to put a second feed/water station in the coop too so the youngsters have a better chance of getting some.
  6. biddyboo

    biddyboo Songster

    Apr 27, 2008
    Ashland, Missouri
    This may seem extreme and maybe a little cruel, but it solved the big persistent problem I had with one of our buff orpington hens bullying the other hens--she would nastily pick on one for a while, and then change to another, always having a target for her meanness. When I'd had my fill of her behavior after "jail time," chasing her away from other picked-on hens, and so on, I finally caught her, carefully turned her upside down in my arms, and carried her around the flock upside down. She would try to right herself, but finally just gave up. The other hens, including the ones she had bullied, would come up to inspect her, even give her a little peck for a change. After several laps around the chicken yard with her in my hands and the flock trailing us, I set her down. She headed off to the side of the chicken yard and to my knowledge, did not bully again. I would often see her on the edge of the flock, waiting to get the treats, no longer driving off everyone from what she wanted. Extreme, but we had peace in the chicken yard at last. Not recommending this solution, just sharing our experience. ~G
  7. myfivegirls

    myfivegirls Songster

    Jan 12, 2009
    Delhi, NY
    Thanks for the tips.

    Yes, the coop and run is big enough for my flock. I'm not sure how big the run is, but I've estimated that I've used over 200' of chicken wire, and that's with (1/2 height) stockade fencing around the outside of the biggest area. The chicken coop is actually two coops connected together with a little "hole in the wall"; one's a 4x8 and the new one is a 6x6 = 32sq ft + 36 sq ft = 68 sq ft; So, I estimate that it could hold about 17 chickens at 4 sq. ft each.

    The only place I could put the two "troublemakers" would be in a small wire cage area with an old dog crate for the "coop". I have a small chicken tractor, too, but it's broken right now and sitting where there's no grass.

  8. CamsCluckinChicks

    CamsCluckinChicks Songster

    Jul 20, 2009
    Quote:Really...This works?? I don't find it extreme at all!! I have a few bullies - mostly the production birds (Red Stars, Black Stars, Sex Links & my 3 ex-battery hens). Within the next month, I'm sneaking about a dozen more chickens in my Layer Crib - they are currently coming to size with my Silkie's & Freddie (my only Bantam Partridge Cochin - she's smaller than the Silkie's!!). I currently have one cockerel in my Layer Crib - a young Easter Egger. 2 of the chickens I'm moving in there are cocks. One is a purebred Silver-Laced Cochin and the other is half Salmon Faverolle & half Partridge Cochin (standard). He's gorgeous! Both of these cocks are obviously low on the pecking chain by choice. Anyway, both boys came from a friends' farm & all her roo's get along great. She never has any problems...I suspect mostly because of the breeds. I already had a mutt in the Silkie Crib, Peeps (half Silkie/half Polish) - I thought it was a girl based on carriage, lack of waddles, etc., but 'she' seems to be developing shackles which leads me to believe she is actually a he. Yesterday I put the Silver-Laced Cochin pair & the SF/Cochin mix in the Silkie Crib with the other growing chicks. Peeps immediately started bullying the newbies!! Up until about 6 weeks ago, the Silkie's, Freddie, Peeps & 1 Splash Polish (hatched with Peeps) were all living with the Polish while I finished the construction on the Silkie Crib & yard. I put all my chicks (My Pet Chicken fall chick order) in the new Crib & yard 1st, then moved the Silkie's, Freddie, Peeps & Snoop Dogg (purebred Splash Polish). Everything went very well. There was the normal adjustment period, then both Peeps & Snoop found their new buddies - ironically Snoop stuck to the other Polish chicks from the hatchery. Peeps seems to be mostly attached to Baloo (Silkie mama) & Freddie (also an amazing mama).

    Back to my point. LOL! I was really upset by Peeps display with the 3 very gentle newbies. After babysitting & redirecting him several times, I finally grabbed him. He made a potentially fatal error by biting me. I walked into the Polish yard & put him down. This yard can be quite intimidating. There are only 3 chickens in there at the moment - Marley, a Blue Splash Polish rooster, Elvis, a Gold-Laced Polish hen & Sammy, a Black Sumatra hen. Polish & Sumatra's are a more aggressive breed. I let Peeps run from them (Marley & Sammy - my Polish females are sweeties - so far) for about 5 minutes...long enough he understood how very well he had it in the other Crib, but not long enough to let anything happen to him. By the time I put him back, he was running to me to be saved. Ha ha! I haven't had any problems with him since.

    Quote:This actually works? I also saw a couple people saying it might take more than a few days, but wow. I SO appreciate all this advice!! I'm a growing chicken farmetter...always thrilled to learn new ways to deal with trouble makers, etc.!! [​IMG]
  9. sheila3935

    sheila3935 Songster

    Jul 10, 2010
    Stonington, illinois
    It was summer when I put my barred rocks out to range with my reds the reds were about 20 weeks old and the rocks about 12 weeks old. A few shots with the hose cured that. They still chase them sometimes and I have to have 2 feeders but all in all peace. by the way there was 8 reds and only 3 rocks.
  10. CamsCluckinChicks

    CamsCluckinChicks Songster

    Jul 20, 2009
    Sorry - me again. LOL!

    If you separate a bird or a couple for a few days or weeks... Will they be accepted back into the Coop? I'm assuming you sneak them in at night so in the morning everyone thinks it's perfectly normal. But, really, the other chickens never target the 'retired' bully?

    I ask because it seems as if my Layer Crib girls tend to pick out the odd one - usually if there's a 'single breed' chicken or a weaker one, etc. It only takes a couple of them to start bullying a targeted one & it's on...mob mentality!! My plan is to slowly rehome the 'production' birds as I replace them with nicer breeds. I noticed RIR's being mentioned as potential bullies. Seriously? Grr. I have 9 RIR pullets, approximately 7 months old - full grown & in with the Layer's. They're laying with some even having reached full egg size potential. They are very bonded with the Easter Egger's & White Jersey Giant's they were raised with.

    Am I going to be spending my days carrying one chicken or another upside down around the yard daily? I'm not going to be a happy farmetter owner. Well, I suppose if this comes to pass, I'll start replacing the RIR's as well. [​IMG]

    I'm so glad I started with ducks this past year!! They don't bully. Mucky messes, but no bully behavior or inappropriate nastiness towards one another disrupting my personal bubble of peace. [​IMG]

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