Hens fight when it's time to roost

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by My1stChickens, Oct 26, 2015.

  1. My1stChickens

    My1stChickens Out Of The Brooder

    59
    1
    41
    May 16, 2015
    I have 10 hens and one rooster. They share a 12x11 coop, and a 30'x55' covered run. They generally get along well but not at bedtime. The coop has a 9' roosting pole about 18' off one (solid) wall. There's a multi level roost in the opposite corner, total of about 8' by a wall that lets them see out.

    The like the long roost at bedtime, and ignore the one in the corner-- that's the one they like in the morning after it's light outside.

    There's a group that sleeps really close together, on about 3' of the roost. The others spread out a bit once they are all settled in. My concern is the "settling in process". There's a pretty good bit of spatting/pecking that goes on while they all get situated. It seems to take 10 minutes of bickering and pecking before they settle in for the night. It's not one bully, and the rooster is not the problem. Most of those hens will peck sharply at their neighbor, for no particular reason. Sometimes the pecked hen moves, sometimes they just hunker down.

    There's a little bit of mean girl behavior around food or treats-- but it's just dominance/pecking order stuff and there's enough room for the pecked hen to get away. Its the bedtime fighting I'd like to stop. Suggestions?
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

    17,763
    6,165
    496
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Unfortunately that's completely normal and probably helps to reinforce the pecking order so they don't get into any real squabbles, I'm sure it's mostly noise and no real harm is being done, most people are put off by the pecking order and how it operates but it really is a efficient and well ordered process that keeps the flock cohesive.
     
  3. My1stChickens

    My1stChickens Out Of The Brooder

    59
    1
    41
    May 16, 2015
    So as long as no blood is drawn, it might be something I have to accept?

    I was watching in particular this evening, since one of my timid hens (a favorite) is showing signs of Coccidiosis. (puffy and sleepy). I started everyone on Corrid today, but was supervising bedtime to decide whether she could stay outside or should spend the night in, til she's feeling a little stronger.

    My "favorites" all seem to be lower on the pecking order.... though if they were mean girls I guess they would not be my favorites. [​IMG]
     
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

    17,763
    6,165
    496
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I think everyone favors the lower members, I have noticed that some lower hens become favorites of the roosters as they will offer protection to them, I think some hens see their human caretakers in the same way and will hang by you for the same type of protection. I slip mine some extras when I can.

    You should watch out that they don't start picking on anyone not feeling well, they will attack anyone acting strange or unwell, that's why chickens hide any symptoms and very often are quite ill before anyone notices, it's flock instinct to get rid of sick members.

    It's all in the nature of the chicken which sometimes is counter to human nature. You will go insane trying to intervene in chicken politics. So don't do anything unless there's injuries or blood.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    35,852
    9,357
    656
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Roost time bickering is totally normal..it's kind of funny.
    That's why extra space(12" per bird) is often recommended.

    Do the roosts in the corner have the same size and shape as the long one?
    At the same height?
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
  6. My1stChickens

    My1stChickens Out Of The Brooder

    59
    1
    41
    May 16, 2015
    I am probably being overprotective

    The main roost is made of a 2x6 board, so plenty of room to keep their feet warm in winter. Typically there is quite a bit of extra room on it, since half of them huddle very close together on about 3' next to the wall. The corner roost has one level make of 2x6, one of 2x4 and one of a natural tree branch-- so they have choices.

    It would not be hard to add a bit more to the main roost.... It would extend past the poop counter but that's not the end of the world.
     
  7. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

    17,763
    6,165
    496
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    With a roost that size they are not gripping the roost but balancing on it, I have even tried a 4 inch up and my chickens refuse to roost on then, mine prefer 2-3 inches. I think it's more about height of the roost, everyone wants to be on the highest.
     
  8. galvinj

    galvinj Chillin' With My Peeps

    136
    22
    76
    Feb 18, 2015
    Rhode Island
    I have a four foot roost for four hens and at dusk I swear that the coop is going to fall over due to the commotion. Then later when I check them they are all huddled together with two feet of empty roost. Go figure!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by