Is it possible to reform a "mean girl"?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Back2Roots, Aug 1, 2014.

  1. Back2Roots

    Back2Roots Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I got this 1 year-old hen in the spring, as a friend for my lone bantam Wyandotte. When I got her new buddy, I also picked up two 8 week-old pullets and a 4 year-old Silkie hen. Integration went well. Sadly my bantam Wyandotte fell ill and, no matter what I tried, she never got better, so she is no longer a part of the flock.
    Fast forward a few months: my Silkie hen went broody, so I decided to give her some hatching eggs, which have since hatched. When I picked up the hatching eggs I wound up coming home with two more 8 week-old pullets and a three year-old BSL hen (who by the way is an awesome layer and a real sweetheart!). The hatch-lings and broody mama are in a separate broody coop in a sectioned off area of the run, so not part of the flock at night, but visible to the rest of the flock during the day.
    My problem is this. the hen I brought in as a friend to my original hen has turned mean to all her flock mates. After my Silkie hen went broody, there hadn't been anyone keeping her in line (my Silkie was head hen). This hen isn't top of the pecking order now either, as far as I can tell she's still second in line after my BSL hen, but she is getting more nasty towards the others with every passing day. And for no good reason; she just likes seek them out and bully them. Just for fun. The only one she doesn't harass is my BSL, but that's only because she's so much bigger than her.
    I found out after I got her that her breed is best suited to a free-range environment, since they are excellent foragers.We live in a subdivision of the outskirts of a village, so we have neighbours. The coop is a reasonable size size and the run is quite large. Although our property is about 1/2 acre, it's not fenced in, so the girls only get supervised outings in the yard a few times a week. I also found out that they have a reputation for being a noisy breed. Did I mention we have neighbours? They're great neighbours, and we would like them to NOT get fed up with the noise level this hen generates. Frankly, I'd rather listen to a rooster than this hen's complaints - I find crowing is much less shrill and annoying.
    At night when it's time to roost, she won't let ANYONE on the top roost bar with her, even though there's oodles of space. Tow of my older pullets wind up sitting with Twyla (my BSL) on a small angled roost in the corner and Mean Girl won't even let the youngest ones on any rung of the main ladder roost either. They usually wind up on a smaller auxiliary roost against the opposite wall.
    And to add insult to injury, she has decided to reduce the already low number of eggs she lays: she has gone from laying 3-4 eggs a week to 2. Thank goodness for Twyla, or I'd have a coop full of chickens and two eggs a week!
    Anyway, I would really REALLY appreciate some suggestions on how to modify this Mean Girl's behaviour, because if I can't, I will have no choice but to try to find her another home.
     
  2. Back2Roots

    Back2Roots Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Really?! No one has any advice? I could really use some.
     
  3. Amina

    Amina Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Try separating her out of sight and sound of the flock for one week. When you put her back in, she is likely to have a better attitude toward her flock mates. Unfortunately though, this advice does not help you with her volume or her egg laying. Sorry. :(
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2014
  4. Back2Roots

    Back2Roots Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks Amina, for your help. I will try to set her up in a tractor coop as soon as I can get it finished. Hopefully this weekend. She will probably complain loudly but then she does that anyway. The difference will be that she will be closer to our other neighbour and I'm not sure they will be as tolerant of her noise. I guess we'll see how it goes and warn the neighbour of possible temporary noise. Here's hoping she will adjust her attitude when she is reintroduced.
     
  5. Amina

    Amina Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds like ultimately you're going to want to either rehome her or turn her into soup... So you should be thinking about what you're going to do if she stops being aggressive but is still loud and lays few eggs. Now, she may be temporarily laying less because something has upset her or she doesn't like the weather. Maybe not though.
     
  6. Back2Roots

    Back2Roots Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You're right, and I have already been giving it thought. I have an ad all composed and at the ready.
    I don't think I'd be able to do what is necessary to turn her into soup, but maybe if I can find someone around here who is willing to help with culling her ...
    I think it's best that I try to re-home her. She's very pretty and she can be a real character.
     
  7. Traphill

    Traphill Out Of The Brooder

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    I actually had a happy ending to a mean girl episode :) I separated Lilly a olive egger after she had her head pecked open severely and I then realized how skinny she was. The others were not letting her eat I was so mad! I moved her to the chicken hospital that backs up to my oldest flock's run for a week. One evening when she was waiting for all the meanies to go in( I was still letting her roost with the flock at night) one actually came off the roost and cornered her and pecked the head open again. I removed the 2 that I thought were the ring leaders only to discover that the others had learned the same behavior and started in on her. I knew that I had to get her out of there so that night I put her in a cage in the coop of oldest flock and let her out in the morning and they thought nothing of her....they had been looking at her for a week anyway. I am so happy to report that they have accepted her and she is roosting in that coop and laying eggs only after 4 days. What a happy ending to what was really a upsetting situation. There is other options than soup!!!!! Maybe this helps someone else.
     
  8. Back2Roots

    Back2Roots Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I do like happy endings. ;-) You are fortunate that you had the option to move your hen in with a more mature flock. Not all of us have that option, but some do. I've heard of others who have had success with integrating birds that are being bullying in a younger flock in with an older flock. Definitely something worth trying if there is a hen being bullied by more than one flock member. I also read about a case where it was just one bird doing the bullying, and she was successfully moved into another more mature, peaceful flock where the hens let her know in no uncertain terms that bullying in their flock would not be tolerated. End result: reformed bully and harmony in both flocks. :)
     
  9. Traphill

    Traphill Out Of The Brooder

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    I realize that I am fortunate that I could move her in with my old girls but I guess that is the benefits of chicken math.....LOL I have 3 separate coops and flocks
     

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