Low girl in the order is being abused.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Chui Cat, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. Chui Cat

    Chui Cat In the Brooder

    May 23, 2009
    I know there is a peck order among chickens and that someone has to be on the bottom. I get that. But sometimes it's hard to watch. My 2 barred rocks seem to be the bottom 2. They've lost a lot of the contour feathers at the base of their tails , apparently from being picked at. The lowest girl is a bit red and raw under the downy patch left and there is a small wound, no major bleeding at this time. She is often off by herself; after everyone else walks away from the scratch grains we put out, she'll go over and pick around for whatever may be left. Yesterday, while minding her own business in a dust-flying wallow, the EE went over and gave her 2 hard jabs to the back of her head.

    I know I can't change the behavior but, as I said, it's hard to watch sometimes. And I'm concerned about them doing some serious damage to this poor pitiful hen. She's so sweet, didn't mind at all when I picked her up to examine her back. She seemed to be at a good weight, so it doesn't appear she is being kept from food and water.

    For a while, I thought perhaps they were pulling out their own feathers b/c sometimes there are quite a few of their feathers in the nest box. Now I'm thinking some of the abuse is taking place when they are trying to lay.

    We work out of the house during the day, so we have no way of knowing who is laying except for the leghorn and the EE. Production is up and down...some days 3 eggs some days as many as 6. We can't tell if either one has stopped laying b/c of the abuse.

    Please tell me what, if anything I can/should do.


  2. dixiechick

    dixiechick Songster

    It is so hard for the hens on the lowest wrung of the pecking ladder. I have one too. I finally gave her her own space away from (but in sight of) everyone else. After a few weeks, when I turned everyone out, I opened her door and gave her the option to free range. I stayed there supervising and they weren't quite so aggressive to her. She is still the lowest and will always be but now it's only in terms of her eating last...none of the physical stuff.
  3. WalkingWolf

    WalkingWolf Songster

    Jan 1, 2009
    North Carolina
    Free ranging usually stops abuse, but then you have to worry about hawks. If you decide to free range make sure there are plenty of hiding places for them to seek shelter quickly.
  4. Scoop

    Scoop Songster

    Jan 16, 2009
    Central PA
    I have a Polish Hen that is the lowest on the pecking order. I couldn't take watching that! She wasn't able to eat or drink or be let alone! I finally put her in with my rooster which is seperate from the hens. She is also his least favorite and hasn't bothered her at all! Go figure! - He's a polish too! The other hens never bother her when free ranging, so weird. She is just the sweetest thing, I'm glad she seems so much more content now, is able to eat and drink and roost wherever she wants, and lay eggs in peace!

  5. gsim

    gsim Songster

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    I would separate her from the others. I have a small runt barred rock hen that has that happen occasionally. She is lame, and we always see to it that she has lots of food and first pick of any treats. Last nite I saw another of the BR pecking at her head continuously and she was already hunkered down on the roost as is her habit. I reached up and slapped the offender in the back of her head and she squawked as she tumbled off of the roost. If I see it, I will stop it. If it happened much, I would separate them or kill the offending bird if she would not stop.

    The runt is like a pet to me, always happy to be picked up and loved on and taken to the garden for strawberries. I know how you feel. For me, egg production is not so important that I want one of my flock to have a miserable existence. Had a little RIR that was pecked at some in chick days, I mixed and moved and shuffled some around and got in to three separate boxes and it stopped. She was really scared, but have not seen it happen since they all got into their coop and run. Both are large, with the coop at 8x16 and the run at 2,000 sq ft. I think lack of space can aggravate this behavior.

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