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Horrible Hen?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by thekatbus, Jul 27, 2014.

  1. thekatbus

    thekatbus In the Brooder

    HI, I wasn't sure if this belonged here or in the chicken behavior section but I thought it was best posted here. I have an issue with my "flock."

    My flock consists of only three hens (as that is the legal limit that I can have) and no rooster (illegal here). Important to note: I have only had these girls for a day and so everything is new for both them and for me (first time chicken owner).

    I bought them from a nice Mennonite farmer down the road from me. They are all different breeds but were living together for quite some time on his farm. One is a Barnevelder, one is a red sex link and one is striped black and white (I don't know the breed). Maybe it's important to note that they were free-range at his farm and here they are in a hutch together. Perhaps they didn't interact with each other when at the farm with all the room they had.

    The Red sex link is an angel and the striped one is very timid but the Barnevelder is awful to both of them as well as to me! She has tried to peck the hell out of me. She is always bossing the other two around, forcing them to go in whatever area of the coop she's not currently interested in occupying. She pecks the red sex link and is bullying her HARD. The striped one is sort of middle of the road and stays out of her way but she bosses that one, as well.

    Now, I know there are things I can probably do to curb her bullying and establish dominance over her (I read a bit about that). But I am actually thinking that the little house they have would be much more peaceful without the Barnevelder in it....and I was considering taking her back to to the Mennonite farm tomorrow and just keeping the other two chickens. It would certainly be easier for me, less behavior work, less stress about putting my hands near them, and an all-around nicer place for the other two chickens to live. I haven't bonded with the Barnevelder and I don't really like her all that much, and really...it hasn't been very long so I don't feel bad giving her back.

    BUT

    Before I undertake such a drastic measure....I am wondering if anyone has any ideas about the situation. I'd like to weigh my pros and cons and possibilities. Does nyone has enough experience to answer any of the following questions...

    Could this be the three of them establishing who is "boss", and it just goes away after a few days?

    Could I change this sort of behavior quickly, before she injures one of the other hens?

    Does any of this have to do with the fact that they are different breeds?

    Does any of this have to do with the fact that they are in a coop right now? (It houses up to 8 chickens but there's just the three, so plenty of room)

    Could this lead to a serious injury or unhappy life for the other two chickens?

    Can this have to do with the fact that a rooster isn't present?

    If I send her back and there are only two of them, is one going to take over the "boss" role of the barnevelder?

    Can the two chickens be okay just two of them or is three the absolute minimum number of chickens a person should have?

    Am I over-thinking all of this because I'm so new and should I just let chickens be chickens?

    I guess that is a whole lot of questions. I apologize for that. I am sitting here and all of these things are just what flew off the top of my head. Any suggestions/help/conversation would be welcomed and appreciated! Thanks :)
     
  2. myfarm4579

    myfarm4579 Chirping

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    I would try separating her from the others for a few days. Doing this should disrupt the pecking order and take her down a peg or two.
     
  3. thekatbus

    thekatbus In the Brooder

    Being new to this, do you have a suggestion as to what sort of environment would be best for me to put her? I don't have anything other than the coop. Except for a cat carrier, which is obviously not okay.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member 5 Years

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    Space and time may settle things.

    The pecking order can seem vicious to those who haven't witnessed it.
    As long as there is no bleeding or pinning down/trapping in corner, they usually will work it out, tho it maybe take a week or more.

    How much actual space(feet x feet or meters x meters) do they have?
    Coops that say 8 usually are really only good for half that.

    Pics of hutch and birds might help.

    The more space they have the better.
    Multiple feed/water stations helps.
    Places to hide(line of sight) or get up and away from bullies helps.

    Will answer your questions in another post.
     
  5. thekatbus

    thekatbus In the Brooder

    [​IMG]

    This is the coop! And the birds themselves are posted underneath here..

    [​IMG]

    It's hard to see the Barnevelder because she's back behind the striped one. But she's significantly larger than the RSL and the striped one is only slightly smaller than the Barnevelder.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member 5 Years

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  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member 5 Years

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    That's a very small space for birds that aren't used to being confined.
    Is there anyway you can put up a fenced area adjacent to the coop/run so they have a bit more room?
    You might just offer treats, don't get where the Barnie can bite you, give them time to adjust if there's no blood being drawn.
    Be calm yourself and let them get used to their new environment.

    The barred bird could be a Barred Rock or Dominique or there's probably other barred bird it could be.
     
  8. thekatbus

    thekatbus In the Brooder

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! This is all very helpful and I really appreciate you taking the time to answer me. It's wonderful. I think what I will likely do is bring the Barnevelder back to the farm and see if I can purchase another sex link or possibly something else. I just feel like this is a bit more than bossing....it feels really bad. she chases them out of the run. They won't go down to the run if she's there. If she wants to be in the actual house, she chases them out, they are not permitted anywhere near her.
    I think shes mean and she definitely scares me a little. My husband says he thinks it's more than her establishing herself, he says she's downright aggressive. I have to agree that she's sort of taken over everything. Did you see the pics I posted?
     
  9. thekatbus

    thekatbus In the Brooder

    The farmer told me that for the first 3 days, keep them in the coop so they know where their new home is. After that, I can start letting them out in an xpen or even try free-range (which is what I'm planning to do). I haven't let them out because I don't want them to run away. I feel bad that they're stuck in there right now all day and night but its only been 24 hours and I do want them to know their home.
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member 5 Years

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    I'd take the mean one back and swap her out for a more docile girl, some birds are just very aggressive....I would hope the farmer would do that for ya.

    .....and the keeping them confined for a few days, to 'home' them to the coop, before free ranging is a good idea.

    Keep in mind in the future tho, that you may have to confine them because of predators or really bad weather, so a wire covered/partially solid covered run with lots of good space is always a good thing to have IMO.

    Good Luck to You!
     
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