Mean hen...help!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by crenees, Nov 30, 2011.

  1. crenees

    crenees Out Of The Brooder

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    Hey Everyone!

    New to BYC (just signed up this morning) and love reading everyone's posts...lots of chicken knowledge here!

    My question is this...I originally bought 3 Rhode Island Reds from a farm friend & built a small coop/run to put them in. About 4 months ago one of my dogs dug under the coop fence and attacked one of my hens...the sweetest hen poor thing (and yes, measures have been taken to make sure nothing like that ever happens again). Well, I brought my attacked hen in the house and nursed her back to health for a month...when I tried to let the other chickens out with her in the yard (I let them free-range whenever possible) the two, healthy hens attacked her (I know now it was just instinct and a mistake made on my part thinking they would go back to being one happy family).

    Well, I proceeded to buy 6 assorted brown egg layers and fenced off a portion of my yard to allow them to free range at will and now at a few months old have been able to integrate my sweetie into their flock. I cant stress how sweet natured she is and even though the newbies were much smaller than her she only occassionally chases them around the yard (never, ever pecks)...I think she's just happy to be the top hen [​IMG]

    Now I'd like, if possible, to integrate my other two hens into the fenced portion of my yard to have all my chickies in one place but I'm unsure of the best way to do this as I dont want to risk my newbies being attacked not to mention sweetie. These two have always been a little nasty (the nastiest one attacks me everytime I try to collect eggs...such a pain!) so I dont expect they will ever be little angels but has anyone had any experience with a situation like this? I understand chickens have a pecking order and there's not much you can do to change this but is there a way to minimalize the impact and will the increase in numbers/size of their roaming area maybe mellow out the meanies a little?

    As a side note I recently ordered 15 red cornish from Ideal and plan on getting into raising my own meat chickens and have toyed with the idea of just dispatching the two meanies at the same time I dispatch the meat chicks if they dont cooperate/mellow out when integrated with my other layers...like to avoid if possible as they're still good layers even at 2 yrs old (3+/wk).

    Thanks for any advice and cant say enough how much I enjoy learning from ya'll!

    Courtney
     
  2. CheerioLounge

    CheerioLounge Chillin' With My Peeps

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    With the 2 hens that are snippy, have you tried pressing firmly on their backs to force them into a submissive stance. It simulates what a rooster would do when covering a hen. It worked with my boss hen. Now I am the HCIC (head chicken in charge.)

    It also helps to introduce, or re-introduce as the case may be, after they roost in the evening.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2011
  3. donnavee

    donnavee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had a slightly different situation with 2 RIR hens which were a part of my 1st ever little flock of girls. As the reds grew, it was obvious they were the top chickens and they really hung together. No real problems as they were friendly to us and great layers. But as time went on, they began to display real aggression towards some of the other girls, even mounting some like a rooster. Then when we got some new chicks the next year things really turned ugly. Even though I did a careful and slow integration, the reds were just plain nasty for the sake of being nasty. If they saw a chicken dust bathing, they would march over peck it to make it leave it's spot. Then just walk away - they didn't want the spot, but didn't want the other chicken there either. We found that the flock tension was keeping us from enjoying our chickens so gave them to a friend who had a large flock and a rooster to keep the peace. The change in the flock was immediate and there was peace in the chicken run again. I was still a little sad since they were part of my first girls and they always came in the coop and "talked" to me when I did chicken chores.

    Good luck, some people separate the meanies for a week and then reintroduce them with the hope they will lose their spot in the pecking order. That didn't work for me, but you may want to give it a try.
     
  4. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    Hi crenees, and welcome to BYC from Michigan [​IMG]

    It might work if you take the 2 old hens and add them to the bigger newer group, so that they are at a disadvantage by being in a new place, and having lots of new chickens around to distract them. When I intigrate birds I put the new ones in a wire cage in the henhouse and leave them in there for several days, until everyone is familiar with each other, then move the new ones out onto the roosts after dark.
     
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    The two meanies should be at a disadvantage (in theory), since there are 7 of the others. Meanies one and two will sort of be the "newbies" if you're putting them in with the 7, so hopefully that will be enough. If things go badly, you might choose the meanest of the two to crate for several days away from the others. The lone meanie might fall into line that way. Good luck! Just monitor (keep a squirt bottle handy and give a spray to the face if someone gets really ugly...lol).
     
  6. Purechick

    Purechick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @Donnavee
    Wow, I just read your post and it is EXACTLY what we went through with two RIR's from our very first flock. They were acting like roosters and ganging up on the others. We also tried separating them and it did not work. A friend of ours, who has chickens, took them in and she says they are doing great with her chickens. She says they are so nice! Who would have thought! Anyways, our other chickens seem happier now and less stressed too![​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2011
  7. slim1986

    slim1986 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you live in an area that you can, get a rooster! He'll place himself on top of the pecking order a he'll break up hen fights, ours do anyway! Ours show call the girls when they find good stuff to eat, they chase away our cats when they get to curios about the hens and they add a little more beauty to an already beautiful flock, there are definitely some pluses to having a rooster! But on the flip side, you could get a mean rooster that's worse than the mean hens you already have, so its a danged if you do danged if you don't type deal with roosters
     
  8. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    [​IMG] Introduce the least aggressive of the hens to the larger group. Wait until that situation resolves (days not hours) and then introduce the more aggressive hen. If she continues to be obnoxious, I recommend chicken and dumplings.
     
  9. ChickenMack

    ChickenMack Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had the same problem with my original flock of RIR's. After many episodes of chicken on chicken violence, I culled them. Now, when I first got them, I was going to be a "no cull" yard but this was getting to be bad and they wouldn't brood so my goal of having a natural flock wasn't moving forward either. So, I made the decision and now they are the base of some really beautiful chicken stock.
     
  10. crenees

    crenees Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks everyone for the replies & welcomes! Nice to know I'm not the only one having mean chicken issues [​IMG]

    Cheerio, that's something I haven't tried yet but is worth a shot...I'll try it this morning when I go get their eggs and see if I can work any magic!

    I'll definitely try to introduce them one at a time to the new flock (probably wait a few weeks to let my chicks reach the same size as the meanies)...hopefully the added space & outnumbering will cause them to reevaluate their attitude...ChickenMack & sourland, LOL! It's definitely one possible future for these two and I'm not even sure I'd feel that bad [​IMG]

    Thanks again for all the help! I'll keep you posted on which method worked or post a pick of some lovely broth or dumplings [​IMG]

    Courtney
     

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