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How to find the bully

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by xianshouston, Jan 20, 2015.

  1. xianshouston

    xianshouston In the Brooder

    Feb 8, 2014
    We think we have a bully. A couple of weeks ago when we left our chickens out in the morning "Wipeout" had had her feathers on the back of her neck plucked out. The next couple of nights we kept watch but it was a different chicken next to her on the roost every night and we never caught whoever it was in the act. We started separating Wipeout at night and her feathers are growing back and we haven't had anymore problems until today. "Goldring" has had her feathers on her neck plucked out. How do we catch the bully? During the day they seem fine and don't lose anymore feathers.


  2. Monguire

    Monguire Songster

    May 18, 2014
    Manassas, VA
    I know it's not a solution for all, but I have cameras installed in the coop and run. This allows me to keep and eye/ear on the chooks from a computer/phone/tablet and (via dropcam service) scroll backward in the footage to get to the source of any issues I notice during my time with them. Really handy to scroll back and observe the bratty cockerel behavior at roost-time, the pecking-order issues, etc.

    In fact, I've found the most difficult thing with having them under such Orwellian conditions is to NOT rush right out to break up every little fight and bullying episode. Chickens have been being chickens millennia before we came along with electricity and cameras to creep all up in their business. Cameras are great tools to observe and learn and (only when needed) address the infrequent issues of serial-bully chooks. Assuming you have adequate space for your chooks and ready access to quality food/water, as long as your bullied chook seems otherwise happy/healthy and there is no bloodshed I'd say let things play out a little longer. It's more than likely that she'll learn to move faster to avoid the antagonist in the future. That is the pecking order after all...those with submissive personalities give way to those with dominant personalities.

    The more we interfere with the pecking order (aside from very serious case-by-case issues of course) from a human-standard slant of "ALL bullying is bad", the more problems we are likely to cause in the henhouse. My vote is for letting chickens be chickens if all their basic needs (space, security, food, water) are being met.
    1 person likes this.
  3. krista74

    krista74 Songster

    Jun 4, 2014
    Victoria, Australia.
    Do you have a rooster? If so, this could be mating damage. Roosters often grab hens by the neck feathers whilst treading to help them 'hang on.'

    If you don't have a rooster, look for the only girl with pristine feathers. She would be my first suspect! Then grab a couple of chairs, a nice cold beverage, and sit back and watch. If this sort of behaviour is going on, there is only so long they can hide it. I'd spend a lazy afternoon watching the chickens and see what turns up.

    Good luck!

    - Krista
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Ditto on the rooster question.

    And how old are the birds?
    How many birds and how much coop space(feet by feet)?
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Losing feathers on the neck makes me think molting. How old are your birds?

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