1. Come check out hundreds of awesome coop pages (and a few that need suggestions) in our 2018 Coop Rating Project!

Mean hen, can I reform her?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by FRlEDeggs, Jun 11, 2011.

  1. FRlEDeggs

    FRlEDeggs Songster

    Jun 6, 2010
    I have 4 chickens overall, a mature Black Australorp, a mature Buff Orpington, and a Welsummer and a Silver Laced Wyandotte who are probably around 14 weeks. The babies have been together with the large hens for about 4 weeks now, and our Buff Orpington bullies them nonstop. The little ones will be hanging out in the run by themselves, and Holiday the Buff Orpington will come over and "pretend" to eat a little just to scare them away for fun. She will chase them around and intimidate them even when they are across the yard and weren't even paying attention to her. Holiday also bullies the cat, and when she is broody (which is often) is VERY vicious and attacks and bites anything that gets near the coop. ( A video of her when broody ) It's clear that Holiday just likes to chase and bully the other animals for fun.
    Is there anything I can do to reform this hen? Just today we found the SLW with the bump of the top of her comb scabbed over and half torn off. We assume it's Holiday that did it, since she repeatedly attacks the SLW most of all.
    I don't think that separating her from the others fpr a week would do much, because when she came back she would still be bigger than the Welsummer and SLW and therefore be higher in rank, but still below the Australorp.
    What do you think?? Can someone please help?
    1 person likes this.

  2. ladygaga

    ladygaga Hatching

    Jun 1, 2011
    I am having similar issues ... With our buff orp also. She is mature and we have 3 new (4 mos old). She had 2 mature buddies but one was eaten by a raccoon, she witnessed it [​IMG] and then the other one was just dead one morning...not sure how/why, she was a healthy bird and laid an egg the day she died. Was weird? This evening I separated pearl, our buff orp, from the younger hens. She was being such a bully, I put her in her own coop for the night. Not sure if anything will change but I will let you know! And I will try and do some reading to hopefully find a solution...
  3. FRlEDeggs

    FRlEDeggs Songster

    Jun 6, 2010
    We also separated the Buff Orpington for the night, I put her in a large dog crate inside of the coop run for the night while the rest of the flock is inside the coop. Hopefully this will make a difference with her.
    Please let me know if you r methods work or you find something [​IMG]
  4. Rammy

    Rammy Songster

    Oct 20, 2008
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I think when some chickens get old, they get crabby. A long soaking in hot water works well. Add onions, salt and pepper. mk
    1 person likes this.
  6. Chickenberry

    Chickenberry Songster

    Mrs. K :

    I think when some chickens get old, they get crabby. A long soaking in hot water works well. Add onions, salt and pepper. mk

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  7. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Well, I'm assuming you want us to field some ideas for you to try. I've had this exact same problem in the past, and hens DO change behavior over time.

    What I would do is try one tactic at a time, see how it changes things, or not, then move on to the next one.

    I'd try removing the bully, or segregating her so she can't get to the youngsters, for a few days to a week. The pecking order is a very dynamic thing, and changes quickly. You'll know if it's changed if, when you return the bully to the flock, she gets challenged by one of the others. If you don't want to remove the bully or segregate her for a long stretch, try just segregating her at her most active times of the day. That could be even more effective in redirecting her behavior. It can be as simple as placing her in a dog crate inside the run with the others.

    If she resumes her lead role, try monitoring things closely. When she goes after a youngster, either interrupt her forward motion (you can use a tool like a fly swatter or dust pan tied onto a stick and hold it so as to block her) Do this for periods of time over a week. I've had luck with this technique when hens are combative with each other.

    You can try an intensive tactic where you monitor the activity in the run and reprimand the bully with a flick to the head whenever she pecks a victim. This is how an alpha hen disciplines the flock.

    You can try pinless peepers on the bully. They block forward vision and can help level the playing field. They fit on the beak and are held in place with small prongs which fit into the air holes. They are not a perfect solution. She'll still find a way to peck and bully.

    Or you can just be patient and wait the few months until the youngsters mature in size and confidence, and the problem slowly goes away.
    1 person likes this.

  8. FRlEDeggs

    FRlEDeggs Songster

    Jun 6, 2010
    Quote:Thank you so much azygous! I'll try some of those for sure! [​IMG]
  9. laurelhed

    laurelhed In the Brooder

    Jun 29, 2012
    Fullerton, CA
    I have a horribly nasty 4 1/2 year old RIR hen who was lovely until she turned 4. She is my 5 year old daughter's chicken and my daughter is now afraid of her. She randomly attacks both she and I, usually when we're feeding everyone. I also have a 7 year old Ameracauna who is top chicken, a 6 month old Australorpe who is as sweet as the day is long, a 4 month old RIR roo (oops) who is also quite sweet, and 3 2 year old female ducks who are big bullies. Sofia the RIR hen bullies the little chickens, but is mainly aggressive towards me. Her "sister", a Barred Rock died over a year ago, but I don't know that that triggered her aggression, since there was a delay of about 6 months before she turned nasty. She is really upsetting the balance in the yard. Can she be nice-ified?
  10. First this is one reason that I don't like mixed flocks. Too many small, weak, or target birds coupled with some real hard ankle hens.

    Its been said that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Maybe you can or maybe you can't but even though I have used them and I will use them again I still find peepers or blinders unsavory. The one constant in every post in this thread is that a sweet(?) hen went bad after she amassed enough years in the trenches to earn herself a promotion.

    The only way (imho) that a 7 year old hen can be reformed is to reform her into a pot of chicken and dumplings. I would find it very hard to try and modify the behavior of a 4 to 7 year old hen seeing how she spent all that time to get to the place in life that she how enjoys. My advise is to let her enjoy the time that she has left, she has earned her spot at the top of the pecking order.
    “Veni, vidi, vici'
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by