Introductions: Bully Hen & 2 Pullets

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by micheleak, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. micheleak

    micheleak Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 5, 2014
    I had 3 happy hens (2 RIRs and 1 Welsumer) and wanted to expand the flock so I added 2 pullets (1 Langshen and an Amerucana). Now everyone is unhappy. [​IMG]

    My lead hen (RIR) is relentless - she will not quit pecking at and chasing the new girls away from the food/water. I started with the "look but can't touch" separation approach to introduce the new girls. Then I moved them into the coop in the late afternoon after a few days. They all roost nicely together at night, but I'm afraid the new girls are being kept from food/water during the day when I'm not supervising.

    The new girls cower in the coop on the roosts all day. They hop down to gobble food./water when I come visit and then they are scared away back to the coop as soon as the bully sees them. As the new girls won't leave the coop they have disrupted egg production as no other hens will go in the coop when they're in there, except at night to roost. We've been at this for almost 3 weeks now. No blood drawn to date, but I have found a few full feathers around. The Langshen is clearly getting pecked the most - I can see the pecking damage on her back feathers.

    I've tried putting in a treat distraction, but that only works until Bully sees the new girls and then she'll leave her treats to chase them away. Other ideas? Suggestions?

    I've heard I should put Bully on time out - in a separate area. And I've heard it's best to do this several ways: a) next to the coop within sight and sound, b) away from the coop so they have no contact at all, c) for a day and d) for up to 10 days. I'm confused. What has worked with your girls?
     
  2. DraigAthar

    DraigAthar Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 1, 2011
    Plainfield, NH
    The pullets are probably going to get bullied until they grow up enough to start bullying back and claim a place in the flock hierarchy. I've tried the time out for excessive bullying, I find it works best to isolate the bully completely away from the flock. This, of course, will stress out the bully hen, too. She won't enjoy being alone and may fret constantly. Usually when I introduce new pullets to established hens, I just make sure they have room to run away and I set up two separate food and water stations, so everyone can eat and drink. Then I just wait. The drama usually resolves itself in time, as long as no one is getting truly hurt.
     
  3. micheleak

    micheleak Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 5, 2014
    Good point on the stations. I'll revisit the placement of the 2 feeders and 2 waterers today - maybe they're still too close. I put them along the long and short side of the run, instead of in opposite sides.

    With that change, perhaps bully will lessen up before the weekend or perhaps she'll have a staycation in the big puppy crate.
     

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