Is the "alpha hen" always a mean one?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mrsbos, May 21, 2011.

  1. mrsbos

    mrsbos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 11, 2010
    Greenacres, WA
    I have 3 nine month old EEs (great layers btw) that I raised as day old chicks. It has taken me this long to finally figure out their pecking order. It looks like Fluffy is the head honcho. She is a bully all the time, demanding the first of the food, taking away food from other chickens mouths, and just being plain mean (pecking the other hens seemingly without provocation). She is also the one who never wants to be held or cuddled and always seems to have a scowl on her face.

    Today she crossed the line, however. Most of the time she just pecks the other hens to keep them out of her personal space at the feed bowl, or wherever the "best" spot in the yard is. Today, in my opinion, she literally attacked the other 2 hens. They were all scratching for bugs in my landscape bark when all of a sudden Fluffy just jumped on Chickie and started pecking at her visciously. Poor chickie "cried out" and tried to back away, but Fluffy kept after her. Then Fluffy turned on the other hen, Touhou, and tried to do the same thing. The two innocent chickens were sent scurrying away in distress. I just had to intervene. I scolded Fluffy, and put her in isolation in the coop/run, while the other 2 got to continue to free-range in peace. Fluffy was mad and started bawking and flapping her wings in the run trying to get out. What's up with that? Was she just having a bad day? Are there "top hens" who are also nice? Did the other two chickens perhaps step out of line, setting Fluffy off? I understand I can't mess with the social order that my girls have established, but the level of bullying today really seemed over the top.

    If Fluffy wasn't my 8 year old daughter's pet chicken, she'd probably be dinner some night.
     
  2. kara_leigh

    kara_leigh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 3, 2011
    Bradleyville, MO
    I only have 7 chickens and they are still pretty young (6/7 weeks) but so far my alpha hen and rooster are both my nicest birds. They are the only ones that don't fight me when I pick them up (the rooster actually goes completely limp, NEVER fights me at all) and don't initiate fights with the other birds, but will step in or put their feet down if they think it is necessary. They are doing a great job, so far. Since these are my first chickens, I think I lucked out.
     
  3. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Quote:Yes, you can! You can't make them not have a pecking order, but you can rearrange it. Put Fluffy in a dog cage or something for about a week, then put her back. She will have to return at the bottom of the pecking order.

    I backed my bully down a bit by "pecking" her every time she pecked at someone else -- but she was pecking without a vengeance, and no one was getting hurt -- she just annoyed me, and I didn't want her to get worse. I used a lightweight stick when she was too far away for me to reach her (which is usually the case.) I didn't hurt her, of course, just let her know I was the lead hen. She has backed off a good deal, kind of keeps to herself now. I don't know that I would even try this, though, if I had one actually hurting others.
     
  4. axion_lotus

    axion_lotus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 19, 2011
    Central NC
    Quote:Yes, you can! You can't make them not have a pecking order, but you can rearrange it. Put Fluffy in a dog cage or something for about a week, then put her back. She will have to return at the bottom of the pecking order.

    I backed my bully down a bit by "pecking" her every time she pecked at someone else -- but she was pecking without a vengeance, and no one was getting hurt -- she just annoyed me, and I didn't want her to get worse. I used a lightweight stick when she was too far away for me to reach her (which is usually the case.) I didn't hurt her, of course, just let her know I was the lead hen. She has backed off a good deal, kind of keeps to herself now. I don't know that I would even try this, though, if I had one actually hurting others.

    I've had to 'peck' a few of my bullies also. [​IMG] I have one little jailbird in the coop right now (Pepper) for making one of her flockmates bleed from pecking her so hard.

    I feel like the chicken police or something. [​IMG]
     
  5. ChicksterJo

    ChicksterJo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 19, 2011
    Grounded on Earth
    My "top" hen (and I say that lightly because they all know I'm the queen hen in their coop/run) is not that mean. In fact, it's the second to the top that's the meanest, especially to the younger chicks. I don't know if she's trying to 'protect' her spot in the pecking order, but she gives me more trouble than my "top" hen.
    I'd hold any of my chickens down if they were being mean to the others or to me. I just put one hand on her back so that she lays down, then put my other hand lightly down on her neck and leave her in that position for a few minutes.
     
  6. Cambium29

    Cambium29 Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 20, 2011
    I have three girls, about 11 weeks old right now. My smallest bird is "top chicken" but she's not really mean--just very bold. She alerts the other two to any apparent dangers and steals food but I don't see her pecking on her friends, other than the occassional "you're in my spot" harrassment.
     

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