Mean Girls

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mommajac, Nov 19, 2012.

  1. mommajac

    mommajac New Egg

    Jul 7, 2012

    I have been lurking on this forum for the past 7 months on all of the various ways to raise, feed, entertain, house and generally care for my girls. I have 8 ladies who have made their way into my heart and have me wrapped closely around their little beaks.

    I am trying to understand the pecking order and how one girl can be singled out of the group and picked on. Poor thing cowers when approached by another hen, her feathers (once beautiful -- Americana) are mangy, she is not allowed to eat the special treats when fed early in the morning and.....she is not allowed to roost at nighttime with the others. Instead, she hovers in the nesting box.

    Is there anything I can do? Is this simply part of the "hen pecked" process? Do they need to have a hierarchy where there is always one that is down trodden? Am I making matters worse by picking her up and loving on her? Actually I just want to bring her in the house and hang out--however, chances are I'd be handed packing papers. Seems like the chickens get more attention than some humans (a little jealous I suspect).

    If anyone has a way of explaining what I can do to alleviate the situation that would be great. Maybe I am the one that needs to be trained to cope with the "mean girls."

    Boulder, CO
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I have read that the others might pick on one who gets more human attention, but I don't know if this is true. I also have one who is picked on by the others, but she is crippled and does not walk well, which I assume is the reason. I tried keeping her in a separate area, but she made it obvious she'd rather be with the flock despite the pecking. She was injured several months ago, and actually things seem to have gotten more peaceful lately. At first she had some bare spots on her head but this is no longer true. She spends her day under a bush or, in nasty weather, in a nest box. She does not sleep on the roost with the others. At times I have wondered whether it would have been better to put her down when she got hurt (coyote attack) but at this point she seems content, and she does lay eggs.

    That is not the same as your situation, but I thought my story might be useful information for you, anyway. Sometimes a flock apparently senses something is wrong with a member even though you don't see anything, and picks on them for this reason.

    One thing you can try, if possible, is figure out who is your "ringleader bully." Then, remove the bully and keep her by herself, preferably our of sight of the others, for a week. When you then return her to the flock, she will have to enter at the bottom of the pecking order. Perhaps by shaking up the pecking order in this way, at least someone different will then be at the bottom. If possible, it might also help to change their living area. Perhaps you could allow them a larger area to forage for a while at the end of the day. Perhaps add things to their yard to jump up on, roost on, or hide behind or under. We moved our whole flock into the garden a few months ago after the garden was spent, to get the bugs eaten and give them some fresh forage. This changed the behavior of several of them in one way or another.

    Perhaps others will have some more useful ideas. Good luck!
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2012
  3. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    Hello and welcome to BYC [​IMG] That's a difficult one! Is your girl new in the flock? They do like picking on "strangers" or outsiders.
    I had one hen years ago that got bullied a bit by the flock and I made a point of "loving" her and cuddling her in front of the others. It helped boost her confidence and the others left her in peace after awhile. They all grew up together, but for some reason she got singled out. I think in your position I'll be her "protector" at treat times, feed her separately and make sure the others know absolutely no bullying will be allowed. I used to sit with my henpecked girl on my lap and chase whoever came over to harass her. It did help that I knew my flock and they knew me and we had an understanding of sorts!
    Good luck with your girl, I hope you get the situation sorted.
  4. mommajac

    mommajac New Egg

    Jul 7, 2012
    So nice to hear from you both!!!

    All the girls came to me at 4 days old in April. They have all been raised the same way with equal attention and love. They have roaming time outside of their pen (more like a palace) every morning and then again for at least an hour every afternoon. If we are outside then we will let them out while we work but need to be careful because of Mr. Fox and the Peregrines. I think I will continue to be her advocate and do my best to change things up. I appreciate the advice and connection SOOO much!!! Thank you!!!!
  5. liz9910

    liz9910 Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 8, 2012
    Northern California

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