Is this Bullying or Normal Pecking Order Behavior?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by katelk, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. katelk

    katelk Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2013
    White Bluff, TN
    I have 5 Orpingtons 9 weeks old. One is a bit smaller than the others- had a vitamin deficiency when she was a chick, made a full recovery- I kept her separate from the others til now because she was getting medicated.
    I started reintroducing her to the other pullets slowly, letting her spend time with one or two of them at a time at first. Then let them be separated by fence.
    Now I have just finished building a new run and decided to put them all in together at this point since it is neutral territory.
    The other 4 chase the little one and peck at her. I saw once that one even grabbed onto her back and pulled her feathers. The little one started out really feisty and was chest bumping like crazy and everything but now she basically hangs out in a corner alone and runs away if another pullet gets near her- which they will still go after her either peck at her or just run at her.

    I am in the process of building a large coop and in the meantime I had been keeping the 4 pullets in a small coop I purchased and the small girl in a dog crate with a roost. I have been worried to add her to their coop since they are already cramped in there

    Is this bullying or pecking order?
    Will this chick be part of the "clique" once she gets in the coop?
    Am I right in waiting to finish the large coop before combining coops?
  2. mayberrymom

    mayberrymom Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 11, 2013
    I don't have any advice for you, but I have one Auracana, 3 buffs, 3 silver laced, and one sussex. All of them chase off the Auracana, even when I go out and give them treats (bread, fermented scratch, etc), I usually try to get her separated and give her some by herself. It makes me think of the schoolyard "cliques", like bunch of middle school girls picking on someone who is different. Maybe someone else can give you some advice, but you are not alone in your concerns. [​IMG]
  3. ChirpyChicks1

    ChirpyChicks1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 22, 2013
    Sounds like pecking order to me but I have never added new chickens to the flock. Just make sure that they aren't keeping her from feed and water. I hope someone else can give you more advice!
  4. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    Welcome to the joys of integrating, or re-introducing, a single new bird. NOT fun. I would watch them closely and see if there is one who instigates this behavior. Keep your pen separated for now and if there is a chick or two that can get along with this single bird then put them together. Then when things are going fine with them add another and see how things go. It may take some time but eventually they should work things out. I'd hesitate to put her in with them at night as long as they are in a crowded space, you don't want this pecking habit to get out of hand. Sometimes once they get it in their heads to peck sometimes they just don't get over it.
  5. Pele

    Pele Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 25, 2011
    Introducing a lone hen to a flock is brutal. I generally avoid it if at all possible, and introduce birds in pairs. Also, don't rush it. Let them look at each other in a safe manner for a good long time (I'm talking months here). Usually I let my new birds look at my old birds for about 3 months in different nearby runs, then let them free range together for another couple of months. By that point, they are old news and boring, so they just ignore each other with only the occasional chase.
  6. katelk

    katelk Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2013
    White Bluff, TN
    Okay these sound like good ideas! It was making me sad watching the little one get so pushed around and having to stay alone in a corner! It started raining this morning and the other girls would not even let her under the shelter. At that point I took her out and she has had a bit of a vacation today just following me around and getting treats :p
    I will have to see if any of the other ladies can be nice. They are seeming quite the team right now though. Thanks for the info and reassurance! I will just introduce her super slooooow.
  7. katelk

    katelk Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2013
    White Bluff, TN
    I have been letting them free range together supervised outside of their mobile run and that goes just fine. The last 3 days I have also put the new pullet in the mobile run with the other 4 ladies. There has not been any bullying that I have seen, but she still seems to be a loner by choice. This is also the case while free ranging.
    Is this temporary? They are still in separate coops for now so I am thinking when they sleep together they will get closer, but are there ever instances where a hen is just permanently ostracized or chooses to be a loner?

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by