I need ideas for hiding spots . . .

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by fargosmom, Nov 12, 2011.

  1. fargosmom

    fargosmom Songster

    Dec 27, 2008
    Pasadena, CA
    but not for egg-laying. I see mentions all over the place for making sure that hens have places to hide from one another if there's any pecking order nonsense going on, but I can't figure out the best/easiest/cheapest way to do this. I've put milk crates in the run once or twice, but I don't know if there are any other good ideas out there . . . thanks for any suggestions.
  2. thaokou21

    thaokou21 Songster

    Feb 1, 2009
    there is always a pecking order, they will stop when they know whose the top bird to the last one.
  3. momma of a chicken lover

    momma of a chicken lover Chirping

    Oct 17, 2011
    I watch my neighbors chickens, and someday soon our own, and have learned that the pecking order chase is like a painful game of tag. Thinking back to my childhood, tag was complicated if we were in a yard with lots of trees and objects. It is easier to catch someone when you have an open space and can veer to head them off. SO... thinking in this vein, just putting "things" in the run that would slow down the chase and give the chasee a rest would help.

    Just thinking out loud.
  4. Hobiedog

    Hobiedog In the Brooder

    Nov 11, 2011
    Lowell, MI
    I found that the bigger the run/area the chickens have, the less problems I have. They don't seem to chase each other to far but in a small enclosed area there is almost no place for them to escape.
  5. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    Are you having much of a problem now or just trying to prevent a problem?

    Levels can be created with things like platforms, tables, chairs, shelves, ledges and branches or roosts. Visual barriers are things that block their view. They act as room dividers. A piece of plywood that's vertical, bushes or a platform with some sides open and one or two sides covered. Even some of the things that add levels work to get the victim out of sight. Make sure you don't make a space where a victim will get cornered and trapped. Then should have a way out of any space you make.

    Nice chickens do a little pecking order maintenance. Aggressive bullies can kill the victim. Chickens have very different temperaments. Some would never be a bully or a victim, no matter what the circumstances are. Some are prone to it in even the best conditions. I think most are in the middle somewhere. Sometimes a victim is just more passive and sometimes they're not healthy. Sometimes the bully is just an unusually mean and aggressive chicken.

    Once you see blood drawn, you need to step in, as the victim is at a much higher risk of being killed. Up until then, I'd watch them. In a healthier situation, the more dominant chicken will peck at another, pull feathers or even chase a chicken away, then is satisfied. The more troublesome behavior is if a chicken won't let up and focuses on a victim constantly, hunting her down, no matter what she does or where she goes and wanting to draw blood. You can see how crowded, confined conditions make that an especially dangerous situation.

    Anything that stresses chickens and makes them more agitated can cause bullying or make it worse. This can be a physical stressor, like external parasites, a diet that's not balanced and causing a slight case of malnutrition or something that's disturbing their sleep. It could also be something that makes the birds more anxious or worried, like being too crowded, changing the number of chickens in a flock, a new dog running around the outside of the pen or not having enough food. There are a lot of things that can contribute to it. Being crowded and bored is a bad combination in chickens that are more aggressive or high strung.

    If you're having trouble with bullying, it's always good to look at your management practices, to see what may be contributing to the problem. Correct whatever isn't optimum. Things that help reduce bullying are more space, adding additional food/water containers, food to forage, activities to keep them busy, adding levels and breaking up the visual space, so the victim of the bully isn't constantly in sight. Sometimes it helps to take a particular bully out of the flock for a few days.
  6. fargosmom

    fargosmom Songster

    Dec 27, 2008
    Pasadena, CA
    Thanks for all the responses - I'm embarrassed because apparently I forgot to subscribe to my own thread (doh!) and when I didn't get any notifications I never checked back - drrrrrrr. Anyway, what I did was I put two milk crates, on on top the other, at one end of the run, and it's helped a whole bunch. They can hide behind the crates, or jump on top; either spot gives a place to get away from the other girls.

    The problem I was having was that I have one pullet that is very un-assertive, and there are three other girls who were taking turns harassing her, to the point that she was a nervous wreck. Plus at one point one of them picked her poor butt bald, and she had to spend a couple of weeks in isolation to heal. Poor thing still wanted to sneak back to the flock any chance she got!
    I think the combination of being separated from the flock, but still able to see them (without getting hurt) and then the addition of the milk crates did the trick. She now has a tail, and is much calmer around the other hens. She's still not assertive, but she doesn't run screaming any time the others push her around, so they don't feel as much need to chase her. Overall they're getting along fine now and she's even established herself NOT at the bottom of the pecking order (not far up, but not at the bottom!0

    I agree with all the points made about husbandry - I try to make their lives as stress-free as I can, they get spoiled with good food and I clean their run every day. This was just an extreme case of one little girl who was too fearful for her own good, making herself a target by her over-reaction to the pecking.

    So thanks everyone! You're why BYC is such a great resource! [​IMG]

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