I think I really messed this up. Help!!

TheChickenFox

In the Brooder
5 Years
Jun 4, 2014
10
0
22
Southwest Florida
Hi everyone. I have 3 white leghorn hens and 3 red sex link hens. Got them as chicks, all at the same time, a little over two years ago. They've all gotten along really well, although there was a clear pecking order, and every once in a while there would be a tiny scuffle.

A few months ago, one of the white leghorns got sick. I'm still not exactly sure what was wrong with her, but her stomach was extremely swollen and she was listless. I came out to the coop to find her crouched in a corner while the other 5 ladies were pounding on her. (She had been near the top of the pecking order prior to this.) Her head and comb were so badly injured that I barely recognized her. So I removed her from the coop, cleaned up her wounds, and put her in a smaller, separate coop. I was sure that she would not survive, although I nursed her and hoped for a miracle.

Lo and behold, two weeks later, she was good as new and laying again, so I attempted to move her back in the coop. As soon as she stepped foot in the coop, the ladies started beating on her again. So I put her back in the separate coop, but put it right next to the bigger one in hopes that they would get used to being around each other again. I week later I tried to put them back together again, but now the other hens are beating up on her AND another leghorn. I decided that they just needed to figure it out, and as long as they weren't really injured, I would let it run it's course.

Well, almost three weeks later, they are still beating up on and bullying these two leghorns. The two who are being bullied hide in the hen house and only come into the run if I'm around. They're both losing weight and look terrible with their bare/scabby heads.

I really feel like I messed up the whole pecking order when I moved the injured hen out, and now I don't know how to make it right again. I've even considered putting lavender in the run to see if it would have a calming affect on the girls. (I know...I'm losing it!) Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 

ChickenCanoe

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Nov 23, 2010
32,932
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St. Louis, MO
Don't feel too bad. You had to remove her or they would have killed and eaten her.

What you need to do, if possible is remove the bullies and put the injured bird along with the other bullied leghorn into the coop alone. Then after about a week return one other bird at a time, waiting a couple days between each introduction starting with the more docile and holding the most aggressive bird till last.
What other breeds are they? RIRs?
 

TheChickenFox

In the Brooder
5 Years
Jun 4, 2014
10
0
22
Southwest Florida
Thank you for your response. The other breed hens are red sex links, which are notorious for being friendly and docile, and they have been until this past month.

I don't have another coop large enough to move 4 large hens into, unfortunately. Any other suggestions?
 

donrae

Hopelessly Addicted
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Jun 18, 2010
31,453
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Southern Oregon
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Pull out the two most aggressive birds (Alphas). Put them where you've been housing the Leghorn while she recovered. That should leave the two Omegas and two Betas. Let the Omegas and Betas figure things out for a few days or however long it takes them to be relatively harmonious again. Then, add in one Alpha. Rinse and repeat.....just go slow.

I'm the first one to advocate a lot of space for your birds, but as a short term thing a hen or two usually do just fine in a wire crate or similar small enclosure.

Sounds like you did the right thing, bringing the ill hen out of the flock. For a lot of things I advise leaving them in the flock, for this very reason. But if you'd tried that sounds like you'd be down a hen.

Something else to consider is how much space you have? Since they all grew up together they may have been okay on what was an iffy amount of space, and now they've become used to the lower density and are resisting.
 

TheChickenFox

In the Brooder
5 Years
Jun 4, 2014
10
0
22
Southwest Florida
Thank you, donrae, I'll try that. The coop they're in now is huge, and they free range for several hours each day, so I don't think space is the problem. I'll definitely Italy try moving the two biggest bullies out. Thank you again.
 
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donrae

Hopelessly Addicted
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Jun 18, 2010
31,453
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Southern Oregon
I'm having interwebz issues....

anyway....

sounds like you're good on space, then. Maybe you can house the Alphas in the coop/run while the others free range?

chicken society can make you
he.gif
sometimes!
 

Spartan22

Crowing
Sep 2, 2014
3,672
3,513
452
NE Ohio
If you still have problem in the future, maybe you can try pinless peepers.

On my first year with chickens, couple of my hens suddenly became aggressive toward a couple of my layers tho they all grew up together. I almost cull the bullies out of frustration until I did some research on the "peepers" and tried on them for a month. After everything calmed down I removed the contraptions and everyone lived peacefully, this is their 3rd year together with 2nd generation and 3rd generation layers. I never had to use the "peepers" ever.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
94,917
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My Coop
My Coop
If your coop is huge, can you split in half with some chicken wire?
...and maybe your run too(not sure if you have a run).
Then do some chicken juggling, as CC suggested.
Don't feel too bad. You had to remove her or they would have killed and eaten her.

What you need to do, if possible is remove the bullies and put the injured bird along with the other bullied leghorn into the coop alone. Then after about a week return one other bird at a time, waiting a couple days between each introduction starting with the more docile and holding the most aggressive bird till last.
What other breeds are they? RIRs?
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,615
26,997
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CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
Thank you, donrae, I'll try that. The coop they're in now is huge, and they free range for several hours each day, so I don't think space is the problem. I'll definitely Italy try moving the two biggest bullies out. Thank you again.
When you say huge, what are the dimensions? Could you construct a temporary "coop" in your run? IF your run is big enough, and covered, you could even construct a "coop with some hay bales covered over with a pallet which is in turn covered with a tarp. You could then construct a chicken wire gate for front and back end. Move the bullies into there to cool their jets for a while. I have a second coop which I can use for a grow out pen, brooder, quarantine, or jail, but would consider the hay bale coop if faced with a broody this summer.
 

MANNA-PRO

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