Hi, I've lived with this flock of nine mixed breeds for a little over a year now and think I'm noticing a seasonal pattern. It seems that in the early summer one or more become broody and towards the end of summer they either hatch eggs or give up on it. At that time they all are starting to look sort of ratty and they seem to become meaner. Last year they put a Poland on the bottom of the pecking order and made life so miserable for her that she stopped roosting in the chicken house at night and eventually was killed by a raccoon one night while sleeping in a tree in the yard. This year it's a Chochin that the hens are all attacking. They've cleaned her head of all feathers and mount her repeatedly, then peck at her head. It's brutal and I'm separating her from the flock for now. I'm wondering if this is a known seasonal pattern and we should expect them to be nice to her again in a few months. Another idea was that she is the smallest and that is why she's being picked on, but i wonder if she wasn't in the flock, if they'd find a different hen to pick on. I'm guessing they are using her to demonstrate that the other are NOT on the bottom of the pecking order. Thoughts, references, help? Should we expect to see happen every year about this time?