Just bought a bunch of problem pullets. What should we do?

lhgrappler

In the Brooder
May 8, 2016
5
2
14
About 10 days ago we bought 6 pullets (age 7-9 weeks) from a farm where there were very overcrowded. I should have said no when I saw how they were kept but I was exhausted from traveling and had a van full of excited kids.

Well... there are two of the 6 that are mega-bullies, pecking others till they bleed.
We currently have:
Storm (biggest bully, a silver laced wyandotte) inside the house in a large bin,
Cookie (EE, also a bully) in dog crate in the garage,
Phoenix (golden laced Polish who is picked on by most of them), her buddy Sprinkles (EE, seems to protect Phoenix), Bella (EE who is super mellow), and Pixie (Barred rock, physically the biggest and top chick) in a very large dog crate in the garage.

FYI - they all get time outside in the yard, but now that we know which ones are bullied the different groups go out separately.


They were all housed together there at the farm, and it feels like everyday I'm separating the injured from the bullies. Last year we bought 6 chicks that were a day old and we had ZERO problems with bullying & injuries. I'm running out of places to separate them. I thought because they've all been together all along this wouldn't happen.

Should we get rid of the bullies?
 
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aart

Chicken Juggler!
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Boy, it's really hard to say what to do.
Aggression/bullying can be come an ingrained habit....
.....or it could just be stress from being in a new place.
The separation may be prolonging them being able to set a pecking order.

So you have 6 existing birds a year old that all get along just dandy?
How big is your coop and run...in feet by feet? Pics would help.
What, if anything, did you do to integrate the birds to each other and your existing flock?

It's all about territory and resources(space/food/water).
Existing birds will almost always attack new ones to defend their resources.
Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact.

In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best if mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

The more space, the better. Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no copious blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down and beaten unmercilessly, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

Places for the new birds to hide 'out of line of sight'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds. Roosts, pallets or boards leaned up against walls or up on concrete blocks, old chairs tables, branches, logs, stumps out in the run can really help. Lots of diversion and places to 'hide' instead of bare wide open run.

Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
This is good place to start reading, tho some info is outdated IMO:
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock
 

Bunnylady

POOF Goes the Pooka
10 Years
Nov 27, 2009
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What they said.

But I would also add, watch the Polish. The vaulted skull on the Polish make them particularly vulnerable to brain injury from just the right peck, and the crest makes it easy for other birds to sneak up on them unseen. Of all the birds I've had, they had the worst time of it in a mixed flock.
 

Abriana

Spicy Sugar Cookie
Apr 26, 2017
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I think you may want to get rid of the bullies, or check out online about boredom and how to fix it. Make sure they have plenty or room and room and the feeder and waterer. A red heatlamp helps prevent pecking and you can buy a chick stick to hang from the brooder for them to peck at.
 

JRNash

Crowing
May 16, 2015
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I have major issues every time I move chicks 5 to 6 weeks into the general population. Not only do I have the chicken pecking order I also have turkeys with them. The Turkeys are the ones in charge and they make sure ALL new arrivals no it.
 

lhgrappler

In the Brooder
May 8, 2016
5
2
14
Thanks everyone.

I had read multiple places that I should separate the bullies from the flock for 4 - 10 days depending on what I was reading. So, that's what I did.

I think letting them sort it out would be best, but the fact they are drawing blood makes me nervous. Guess I'll just try to make sure I catch it right away.

Just to be clear - I'm not talking about problems integrating them in with the chickens we already have, I'm talking about the "sisters" who know each other.

I use purple cut spray on bare spots then smear Vaseline on em. They get a beak full of that,they normally behave
I have been using Blu-kote, but the vaseline sounds like a good idea. I was trying to figure out something that would taste gross to them.

What they said.
But I would also add, watch the Polish. The vaulted skull on the Polish make them particularly vulnerable to brain injury from just the right peck, and the crest makes it easy for other birds to sneak up on them unseen. Of all the birds I've had, they had the worst time of it in a mixed flock.
:( My oldest wanted her to be a show chicken. Is there anything that can help the situation? She does have a buddy who seems to be kind of a body guard of sorts.




My original flock is down to 3 (one failed to thrive & died as a chick, one turned out to be a boy and one died for no apparent reason in the fall). Right now, their living quarters are a covered, predator proof 5 x 10 run and 5 x 5 coop with 24/7 access to the run. We are adding an uncovered (well, covered with netting) 8 x 10 run to the existing set up, hoping to have it done tomorrow. The plan is at first, they will be separate, then eventually open access with hopefully all of them semi-peacefully coexisting.
 
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