How to feed the chicken at the bottom

Heidi Smith

Hatching
Jun 30, 2020
5
0
9
I am worried about my hen at the bottom (Misty). The top chick ( Shanane) won't let her eat. It isn't even that Shanane is aggressive, sure a few pecks now and then, but the second Misty tries to eat, Shanane makes a squawk and Misty stops eating. I just watched the others feed for an hour and Misty isolates herself and preens her feathers. That is, if I lock them all out of the coop and into the run. If I do not lock up the coop, Misty stays inside. I at first thought this was because she was broody. Now I am not sure if she is being broody and isolating herself. Any thoughts?
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
9,461
13,104
656
western South Dakota
What does your run look like? Is it a wide open rectangle where each bird can see every other bird 100% of the time. A lot of runs are like that, and they are only using the floor of the run.

You need to add clutter. Hideouts, roosts, mini walls, all will make the run much more interesting to your birds, make use of the vertical space in your run, but more importantly it will allow birds to get out of sight of other more dominant birds. Pallets can be placed on top of blocks, letting birds get under it, or on top of it. Add totes, or small pieces of plywood, like mini walls, put roosts or branches up, or old ladders, add chairs. It will look cluttered to you, but it will be much more interesting to your birds.

Add another feed bowl, I generally have one for every 5 chickens or so, but place that bowl so that a bird eating at one bowl, cannot see another bird eating at a second feed station.
 

igorsMistress

Frank and Abbys mom.
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Apr 9, 2013
24,023
127,653
1,632
My Coop
My Coop
What does your run look like? Is it a wide open rectangle where each bird can see every other bird 100% of the time. A lot of runs are like that, and they are only using the floor of the run.

You need to add clutter. Hideouts, roosts, mini walls, all will make the run much more interesting to your birds, make use of the vertical space in your run, but more importantly it will allow birds to get out of sight of other more dominant birds. Pallets can be placed on top of blocks, letting birds get under it, or on top of it. Add totes, or small pieces of plywood, like mini walls, put roosts or branches up, or old ladders, add chairs. It will look cluttered to you, but it will be much more interesting to your birds.

Add another feed bowl, I generally have one for every 5 chickens or so, but place that bowl so that a bird eating at one bowl, cannot see another bird eating at a second feed station.
X 2. Same with water sources.
 

Pghelp

Songster
Jul 4, 2018
238
378
166
Greater Bay Area, Vallejo, California
Good advice above. I only have 7 in my flock but the two at the bottom of the pecking order are harassed by the others. The meanies cannot guard all the food and water sources so if there are some that are out if sight and less obvious the picked on ones have a chance. My girls at the bottom learn fast. They know it's useless to compete with the others so they just stand back until I fill the other feeders. They know the drill!
 

Heidi Smith

Hatching
Jun 30, 2020
5
0
9
Yes...and how old are these birds, in weeks or months?
It has been going on for a few weeks. The silkies are 7 months old and I have 5. I will try to increase hiding spots I have also tried a wide scatter of food on the ground to make it hard to watch over it all but Shanane kind of stalks Misty wherever she goes.
 

3KillerBs

Enabler
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
10,591
27,100
1,066
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
Do you ration food or free feed?

I don't have experience with bully chickens preventing others from eating, but it stands to reason that a chicken can't guard the feeder every possible moment if it's always full and, even moreso, if there are other things to do in the run than stand next to the feeder.

Also, what kind of feeder are you using?

Is there room for all the chickens to eat at the same time?

It stands to reason that scarce resources -- rationed food or limited space to access food -- would tend to trigger food guarding while abundant food/access to food would not be protected so jealously.
 

AOrchard

Songster
May 27, 2020
258
499
146
Wisconsin
Are they all laying eggs now? Flock dynamics tend to change as the pullets go through chicken puberty and start laying eggs. If they aren't all lying eggs yet I would give it time, and see how it goes once they are all laying. If they've all been laying for at least a few weeks, you could try pulling the bully Shanane out for a few days. When you put her back she'll be the odd one out now and it may help temper her dominant personality.
 

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