How to prevent bullying

BlueTheBrahma

In the Brooder
Sep 2, 2021
46
47
39
I had a flock of 10, two ISA browns, a bluebell, a white Brahma and an unknown origin Easter egger, as well as five brahmas I raised from chicks this year. I recently got four more hens, lohmann browns to balance the rooster to he ratio by a bit (I still have 3 cockerels though). I know this is too many Roos, but they were raised together and get on really well. Stupidly, I underestimated the size difference between a Brahma rooster and 22 week laying hen. Our top rooster gets on very well and is very helpful, but our smallest rooster who is a month younger keeps trying to peck the new hens.
I know one roo or four hens is a no brainer, but would like to keep the rooster if possible, as he’s quite the character. They’ve only been together for two days, and I understand it’s called the pecking order for a reason, but are there any steps I could take to stop the bullying? I plan to build a new coop when the brambles die and I can dig them out for the layers to keep them away from my breeding brahmas, but cannot at the moment.
Thanks
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,037
22,674
907
Southeast Louisiana
How old are your 14 chickens, the 3 boys and the 11 girls? That might help us understand what is going on. And how big, in feet, are each of your coops and each of your runs? Or do they free range? Knowing that might help us come up with suggestions that suit your circumstances.

Practically any chicken can be a bully if they have a weaker one to pick on. When you are integrating, especially when there is an age/maturity difference, they often find weaker ones to bully. So that is one thing you may be seeing.

Something different is when you have cockerels going through puberty, which is sounds like you have. They want to mate with the pullets and dominate them. Some people call that bullying, I just consider it chickens being chickens, but it can be very hard to watch. Since violence is sometimes involve it may be dangerous too.

My goal with integration and with cockerels and pullets going through puberty is that no one gets injured. Nothing more complicated than that, no one gets injured. All that stuff about becoming one big happy family will happen when they get through integration and they grow into adults. Until then it's just that no one gets injured. Some of this stuff is violent, injury is possible. You do have to pay attention, but just because one gets pecked doesn't mean they are injured. There are often things we can do to reduce the level of violence. What are you working with?
 

BlueTheBrahma

In the Brooder
Sep 2, 2021
46
47
39
How old are your 14 chickens, the 3 boys and the 11 girls? That might help us understand what is going on. And how big, in feet, are each of your coops and each of your runs? Or do they free range? Knowing that might help us come up with suggestions that suit your circumstances.

Practically any chicken can be a bully if they have a weaker one to pick on. When you are integrating, especially when there is an age/maturity difference, they often find weaker ones to bully. So that is one thing you may be seeing.

Something different is when you have cockerels going through puberty, which is sounds like you have. They want to mate with the pullets and dominate them. Some people call that bullying, I just consider it chickens being chickens, but it can be very hard to watch. Since violence is sometimes involve it may be dangerous too.

My goal with integration and with cockerels and pullets going through puberty is that no one gets injured. Nothing more complicated than that, no one gets injured. All that stuff about becoming one big happy family will happen when they get through integration and they grow into adults. Until then it's just that no one gets injured. Some of this stuff is violent, injury is possible. You do have to pay attention, but just because one gets pecked doesn't mean they are injured. There are often things we can do to reduce the level of violence. What are you working with?
My original 5 hens are approaching two, four young Brahmas are 5 1/2 months and the younger cockerel who is bullying the most is 5 months ish. The new hens are 22 weeks I think, so around 5 months too, but obviously smaller.
 

BlueTheBrahma

In the Brooder
Sep 2, 2021
46
47
39
My original 5 hens are approaching two, four young Brahmas are 5 1/2 months and the younger cockerel who is bullying the most is 5 months ish. The new hens are 22 weeks I think, so around 5 months too, but obviously smaller.
Also the coop/run is 200 square foot but they get let out to forage my 1/3 acre allotment during the day, with mobile fencing around any plants they would eat like cabbage.

(Stupid me originally converted 20metre squared into feet by timesing by 3, so I wrote 60, I’ve realised now)
 
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3KillerBs

Enabler
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
10,516
26,876
1,066
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
Also the coop/run is 60 square foot but they get let out to forage my 1/3 acre allotment during the day, with mobile fencing around any plants they would eat like cabbage


Welcome to BYC.

I'm sorry, but that's way too small for, if I counted right, 19 birds.

The usual guidelines call for 4 square feet in the coop and 10 square feet in the run as the suggested minimums and integration takes additional space above that.

Free ranging from dawn to dusk helps, but at some point they've got to come home into the coop and that's when they'll start challenging for space. :(
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,037
22,674
907
Southeast Louisiana
It sounds like the younger cockerel is still immature and being controlled by his hormones. The other two are in better control of themselves and are restricting the younger one's freedom of action some so he is just doing what he can get away with. It's an aggravating age for a cockerel. May cockerels literally lose their heads at that age because of the way they act. It sounds like the rest aren't doing badly at all unless you are not telling us something.

Base your actions on what you see. If no one is getting hurt you can let them go and see what happens. But have a Plan B ready. You may find you need to isolate him or another chicken on a moment's notice. The boys may suddenly start fighting very seriously. A girl may get injured.

Good luck with it.
 

BlueTheBrahma

In the Brooder
Sep 2, 2021
46
47
39
Welcome to BYC.

I'm sorry, but that's way too small for, if I counted right, 19 birds.

The usual guidelines call for 4 square feet in the coop and 10 square feet in the run as the suggested minimums and integration takes additional space above that.

Free ranging from dawn to dusk helps, but at some point they've got to come home into the coop and that's when they'll start challenging for space. :(
Sorry, I worded it wrong, there are 14. Ideally I would like more space too, and am working on that, but the allotment I have was in a bit of a mess when I got it, so I haven’t had chance yet to landscape it completely. The space I want them to range in is currently all brambles, and I will hopefully begin work when they die down.
 
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BlueTheBrahma

In the Brooder
Sep 2, 2021
46
47
39
It sounds like the younger cockerel is still immature and being controlled by his hormones. The other two are in better control of themselves and are restricting the younger one's freedom of action some so he is just doing what he can get away with. It's an aggravating age for a cockerel. May cockerels literally lose their heads at that age because of the way they act. It sounds like the rest aren't doing badly at all unless you are not telling us something.

Base your actions on what you see. If no one is getting hurt you can let them go and see what happens. But have a Plan B ready. You may find you need to isolate him or another chicken on a moment's notice. The boys may suddenly start fighting very seriously. A girl may get injured.

Good luck with it.
Thanks, you’ve helped a lot, since they’ve only been together a couple of days I’ll wait, but my friend who owns the allotment near mine has an old pigeon shed we use if we need to isolate anyone briefly, I hope once he’s matured a bit I should be fine, but agree that maybe he should be moved or gone if it continues.
 

BlueTheBrahma

In the Brooder
Sep 2, 2021
46
47
39
Sorry, I worded it wrong, there are 14. Ideally I would like more space too, and am working on that, but the allotment I have was in a bit of a mess when I got it, so I haven’t had chance yet to landscape it completely. The space I want them to range in is currently all brambles, and I will hopefully begin work when they die down.
Also, sorry, I have been a complete idiot and coverted 20 square metres into feet by timesing by 3, it’s actually 200 plus feet!
 

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