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Hens not getting along request opinions and enlightenment

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Glasshen, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. Glasshen

    Glasshen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 13, 2012
    La Fayette, NY
    I wii start by saying I am new, and inexperienced. My hens are about 10 mo. old, 4 RIR and 2 BR from the feed store. One BR is different from the others and has always annoyed them. She, Stewpot, was the first to do many things, like get out of the fenced area, eat certain things, she used to peck my jeans, she tried to roost outside the dog crate, venture off by herself, doing things her way and they would act annoyed with her. Then a few days later they would be doing the things that had so annoyed them when she first did them.

    Recently their annoyance seemed to escalate, and she had several scabs on the top of her head and comb. One day the comb was actively bleeding, so I brought her in and let her be in the dog crate in the basement for a few days until she healed. I posted on the NY thread and people told me about Blue Cote, but I didn't have any, and advised me to reintegrate her at night, and check in the early morning.

    I did those things, and all seemed well, but when I went back about an hour and a half later there was a lot of noise in the coop, and Stewie was kind of in a nest box for protection, everyone else was on the ladder roost. I let them out to have more room, and Stew went after one of the red girls. Those two were tussling and went back in the coop, another red girl followed, and I did too.

    One red girl was standing on Stew, and both of them were pecking the back of her neck in a nasty way. I broke it up and brought her back in to the basement crate. She was not bleeding, just wet with chicken spit. I have thought of her as the victim, but she seems to be a provocative victim, bringing trouble onto herself by challenging the more powerful.

    Where do I go from here. Do they just need to fight it out? Do I need a small confinement for S in the coop for a time like a week to reintegrate her...can they get along eventually?
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Once they start drawing blood, fighting it out is probably not a good idea. Isolating a bully for a week then returning her often works. If the others haven't seen her for a week, she will be like a new addition and therefore at the bottom of the pecking order.

    Sometimes when this sort of thing gets started, it is very difficult to deal with. Things that may help: More space, especially a large natural area where they can find grass and bugs to eat. Also, more protein, animal protein, diversions (things to jump and climb on, a hanging cabbage or suet block, etc.) A last resort for some is peepers: https://www.backyardchickens.com/products/category/peepers-blinders
     
  3. Jajika

    Jajika Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Northern California
    I had this problem with one of my hens.

    I don't have a rooster, so I've been told one of the hens will take on the dominate role.

    She was so aggressive she even went after me.

    I was given this advice:

    Remove her from the flock for about a week, if you can.

    Also, when you take her back, stand over her and put both hands around her and hold her on the ground. It is a very dominant behavior and it will tell the other hens she is not the boss.

    See if that helps.

    BTW,,the advice about keep her away from the flock is very good advice. As they said, she will then be new.
     
  4. Glasshen

    Glasshen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 13, 2012
    La Fayette, NY
    Today was so nice that the 5 girls were out in th,e pen, and I let Stewie out just in the yard while I was cleaning the car. Two of the red girls left the pen and were hanging out with Stewie in an amicable way. So I decided I would follow your advice and take the two mean girls still in the pen to the crate in the basement, and let the three free rangers go back to the coop with the other innocent BR girl.

    So that is where we stand now. Thank you so much for the help, I don't know enough about chicken social life to figure these things out. My husband says he heard that if we had a rooster he wouldn't allow these things to occur, but it does sound like there would be other situations to deal with...I know that I got the right mean girl because she still had some black and white feathers in her toes! I will hold her down when I return her next weekend.

    Thank you. Susan
     
  5. Glasshen

    Glasshen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 13, 2012
    La Fayette, NY
    Thursday or Friday everyone was outside and a nice red girl came out of the pen to hang with the mean girls. Since all was going well, I opened the door to the pen and watched. Then everyone went into the coop. The three resident nice girls were on the top rung, and there is one red nice girl who has decided she can't be bothered with this nonsense, she wants to hatch stuff. Eggs, golf balls, it doesn't matter to her.

    One of the mean girls got pecked on her head by one of the nice girls, then was allowed to climb up on the top rung. The major meanie zeroed in on Stewie and they glared at each other. Stewie cuddled up to the other BR, then the meanie attacked, pecking quickly and with venom. Stewie buried her head under her friend. I picked up the meanie and she went back to the basement, by herself.

    Today I tried them again, in the pen the meanie was standing on Stewie and pecking. It took less than a minute.

    The "mean" hen is not bad to anyone else, but she is evil to Stewie. I think she may need to go live somewhere else, or something. I don't know if they can live peacefully. She is quite congenial in my basement, but I don't know if I really want a basement chicken on a full time basis.

    Any Ideas?
     
  6. Glasshen

    Glasshen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 13, 2012
    La Fayette, NY
    The major mean hen has a name. Mean Irene had another chance, but once again blew it. So she is looking for a new home.
     

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