How are top chickens supposed to act?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by KDOGG331, Jan 28, 2017.

  1. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

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    So I gave the girls A LOT of worms today (if you missed it i bought a variety pack last week with super worms, wax worms, red giants, and large and small mealworms) and at first it was all fine, everyone was near everyone else finding their worms and running cause the worms are higher value. But I noticed just now when I went out to give them some more that one of the Australorps suddenly got mean. It started out fine like when I gave them the other worms then I guess when they became harder to find? She started scratching around looking for them and then chasing off every single other hen!! Seriously. Even ones I thought were high up on my pecking order like the other Australorp and my Barred Rock. Nope. I'm used to those 3 chasing the other chickens (Orpingtons and Easter Eggers), although the Orpingtons hold their ground and chase too, but I've never seen them chase fellow top hens. She was vicious. Ran them off clear across the pen multiple times and wouldn't let ANYONE near her zone. There's one poor Easter Egger that gets chased by everybody but the chasing higher ranking girls was new.

    Now, she didn't like maul them or anything, just a hard peck and chased them away, and I'm sure it's just because of the extreme high value of the worms and she's relatively nice otherwise and lays well so I'm not gonna cull her or anything but I was just thinking.....

    Surely this is not top hen behavior? Is she just a bully? I thought a good top hen or rooster shared their food with everybody? I know at least I've seen people say a good roo should tidbit and/or let his ladies eat first, bring them food, etc. which seems like the exact opposite of hogging all the food for yourself and chasing off anyone who comes near????

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. lovelyduckling

    lovelyduckling Out Of The Brooder

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    Do you have a rooster? I have 2 (one just started crowing) and the oldest one (Rocky) usually if he finds a treat he makes a noise and the others start running toward him to get it first. My other one is still learning though. My hen (Little-bit) on the other hand when she finds a treat she hogs it for herself. She is Rocky's mate and second in command though. When the other hens try to eat she chases them off and his it. When I feed them I make two piles of food so they can eat equally. Sometimes I see her or someone else chase the ones higher in command off so they can eat it themselves. I think it's normal for this to happen so I wouldn't worry.
     
  3. lovelyduckling

    lovelyduckling Out Of The Brooder

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    That's supposed to say hogs it not his it
     
  4. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

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    Thanks for the reply! That's good to know that's normal :)

    I started making separate piles too all around the run because they never let Bunny get treats so now she can. But when it's something lower value or there's a lot of it like seeds or veggies they peacefully eat in their piles but I guess cause worms are so appetizing they were fighting? And running to every pile to eat them all haha

    I don't have a rooster but I'm wondering if having one might keep the girls on line?

    Or maybe this is just a one time thing cause of the value of the treat?

    I am slightly concerned though that for the past few months the flock seems to have shunned Bunny :/
     
  5. lovelyduckling

    lovelyduckling Out Of The Brooder

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    Yeah it happens sometimes. A rooster can help keep them in line so I'd get one if I were you, just remember that when you have a rooster, you'll have fertilized eggs. You can eat fertile eggs, I just prefer regular infertile eggs. You can separate him from the others if you don't want fertile eggs. Also, make shure to get a rooster that's about your hens age, and one that isn't known for fighting or being aggressive. You will want one that's nice to your ladies and will protect them. When introducing him, mabye put him in an area where they can see each other for about a week. This lets him get used to his ladies. Introduce him slowly. When he is finally living with them, just keep in mind there will be fighting for a new spot at the top of the pecking order. If you don't want this, it's perfectly fine and you and your girls will still be happy without a rooster to worry about. Good luck!
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    There are multiple dominance actions within a flock,
    (the idiom '$hit rolls down hill' comes to mind'),
    not just one top hen and everyone else gets along.
    Some birds are 'meaner' about reigning their higher status than others.
    A cockbird might keep things in order, but probably not in a 'gorging on excessive treats' situation.

    When I give 'high value' treats I spread them out in a looong line,
    long enough line for every bird to have a 'place at the buffet'.

    I do this in the run before letting the birds out of the coop in the morning,
    much less chaotic, no tripping over birds or being mobbed,
    and most everybody gets a fair share.

    Scratch ration is doled like this every day, they don't get much,
    mealworms are evenly distributed along with the scratch once a week or so.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2017
  7. lovelyduckling

    lovelyduckling Out Of The Brooder

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    Yeah, aart is right. I didn't quite think of that. It's your decision for your ladies though. If aggression gets worse you may have to put one in an isolation for a few days. I'm not sure if what I say is true though, good luck anyways!
     
  8. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

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    Thank you both for the replies! The thought of a rooster does sound appealing but we also have neighbors so not sure we could have the crowing.

    And I hadn't thought about the dominance being fluid like that. Also good to know it's normal for some hens to just be meaner, even if I don't like it.

    Wow, I hadn't thought of a line like that! That's a great idea! I'll try that, thanks :)

    I usually just either dump it all in one pile or I put it in small piles all throughout the run and make sure it's in areas kinda on the edges where Bunny can just reach and grab. They usually don't care if she's on the other side of the run but they do with worms. But she did get a few.

    They normally don't get this many treats but the first batch was to bribe them back into the run (my brother had let them out and it was only noon, I had a lot to do and couldn't watch them all day). The next batches were just to get them out of the house hah

    I'll try giving less next time and/or making a line.

    And thanks duckling!

    Also does anyone know how to get Bunny reintegrated with the flock? They've been bullying her and she hasn't laid in months. She's not completely shunned, she still hangs out with her sister and some of the other hens sometimes, but usually when I could in she is hanging back instead of being at the gate with the others like she used to and instead of letting her just be last to get treats, they don't let her get anything. Unless I make separate piles which I started doing once I realized I was contributing to the bullying.

    With treats she knows what they are though she sorta nervously charges her way in then runs lol

    So I think she's just typical EE, flighty, lacks confidence, nervous/aware of everything and the others take advantage.

    Would separating her just make it worse? Was thinking of it to boost her confidence then put her back. But maybe I should isolate the others?

    They are moving coops soon so maybe I'll put the Orpingtons and EEs in first to establish their territory so to speak?
     
  9. lovelyduckling

    lovelyduckling Out Of The Brooder

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    Yeah, I think that will work. Anyone else know any other good ideas? I think you've done your best it's just up to them now. Good luck!
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    If a low bird is completely terrorized to the point she can't eat drink or rest or is being brutally beaten regularly,
    then separating them for a time can help build their confidence back up.
    But then you still have to reintegrate. Folks who do this usually put another bird or two in with the fully recovered one and let them bond before integration back with the flock. I would only suggest it as last resort unless you have the enclosures and time to mess with it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2017

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