My chickens are fighting

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by istanley24, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. istanley24

    istanley24 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 26, 2007
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    Hi all,

    One of my hens went broody a little while ago, and she successfully hatched 3 chicks about 7 weeks ago. I have heard that after 6 weeks or so, it is ok to put the mother hen back in with my other adult hens (I have 4 adults hens in total) but she is being completely picked on by one of them, and then another joins in. So it is 2 on 1, full on fighting. Not just fether pecking, but jumping up with they feet and tryingt o peck the head and eyes. The 3rd adult hen is completly in her own world, and doesn't get involved in any way.

    I have had to put the mother hen back in the run with the chicks, but I need to find a way of re-introducing her to the main flock. She is laying eggs again now, so I want her to be able to free-range like the others. I also need to know how to introduce the chicks when they are old enough too?

    Any help would be much appreciated.

    Cheers,

    Ian.
     
  2. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    I would wait a little while and then try to reintroduce them. They may pick on her again but they usually figure out the pecking order. Also, when I let mine free range all together, the one in particular that was getting picked on the most, didn't get picked on so much.
     
  3. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator Staff Member

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    cmom is right. When you removed the mother hen from the flock, did you notice any little squabbles among the hens? They were probably rearranging their pecking order, which is a very rigid thing among chickens. They all know their place, and when one is removed or one is introduced, it sends the whole system into chaos.

    There won't be a way to reintroduce the mother hen without causing a little chaos in the flock. Fights are going to happen, and she's either going to stick up for herself and regain her old rank or will slide to the bottom of the totem pole.

    Because of this, if you reintroduce her, you need to watch her and make sure she isn't injured badly by their pecking. Chickens are kind of strange in that they will peck at any injury they see on each other, sometimes with some horrific results if it isn't found out right away.

    If you need to, use some chicken wire to fence off a special area in the run to put her in during the day so that she can see and talk to the other hens but isn't in with them fully. Give them a week or so to adjust that way, and then allow her in with them.

    The chicks need to be pretty big before you put them in with the big girls. The closer in size they are, the easier time they'll have fighting for a place. If they're too small, the big girls will have their way with them.

    I believe there are some vitamins you can put in your birds' water to reduce stress and promote health... I wonder if this would be a situation where they might be useful.
     
  4. istanley24

    istanley24 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 26, 2007
    Abingdon, Oxon
    Thanks very much for the replies. They have been together over the weekend and seem to be getting along now. One hen still goes over to the mother hen and tries to pick a feather, but the fighting has stopped and they are seeming to sort themselves out.

    It was strange though, as they were never out of sight, the run is inside the area that they free range and is made from chicken wire. I'll let the chicks get to the same size before I introduce them to the rest of the flock.
     
  5. juice

    juice Out Of The Brooder

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    May 27, 2008
    hastings
    Oh my, that has been my problem lately. I have 8 hens and they all got along great until one day. A fight broke out,some blood was drawn and then another 3 were injured. Just when I thought I knew the culprit they all got wiggy and showed signs I didn't like(aggression).
    So we have many segregated now, I don't if I will ever be able to intro. the weakest. We might need to keep her separte always,as they are so mean to her and she is so meak. Any thoughts?
    Do I assume that they 'need' to go through the fights???? i hate this part of chickens if that is true [​IMG]
    Juice
     
  6. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Quote:To a certain extent, you are going to have to expect and even allow some fighting. They have to work out their pecking order. If you step in each and every time it will only delay the process. That's why I always say, if they're not drawing blood let them work it out.
    Believe me I know it's hard. My little chicken (who happens to be my favorite) got picked on alot when the chickens were little. I wanted to run in and grab her every time I felt the others were being mean to her. At one point I had to apply pine tar to her tail end to prevent them from pecking her bloody, but other than that I let her figure it out.
    Once the fighting was done, she was pretty low on the pecking order but she is fine and they leave her alone now. If you watch closely you'll notice that the lower ranking members of the flock find their own ways of coping and outsmarting the higher ranking members.
    ETA: Another thing that's important to remember is that the higher ups can prevent the lower ranking chickens from getting food and they can starve to death. Having a second feeder is necessary for this reason.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2008
  7. juice

    juice Out Of The Brooder

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    May 27, 2008
    hastings
    Ok thank you ....the problem is that it has been fighting to the point of blood. Which is why my kids have set up a 'hen-hospital' ,and it is getting to be much too much work. And there is no fun in this right now [​IMG] . But I will keep the injured ones sep. until they are all healed up(is that right?) and then try again. Is there anything I can put on their back ends(other than Blue-Coat,or tar) to keep them from pecking too much ?Thank you...juice
     
  8. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Quote:IMO, the pine tar is the best stuff. It's stinky, messy and you'll think it's made by the makers of super glue, but it works and works fast.
    Keep your injured ones seperate until they are healed. You can try re-introducing them at night, after everyone has gone to roost. Apply some pine tar to the area(s) where they were getting the worst of the pecking before you put them back in. Then be there to watch in the morning.
    Yes there are some parts of chicken keeping that's not alot of fun, this being a major one of them, but once they work it out the joy will return.
    Also, see my above post where I added the note about using a second feeder. Even if it's a small, makeshift one just so you know the lil' ones are getting enough to eat.
     
  9. juice

    juice Out Of The Brooder

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    May 27, 2008
    hastings
    Ok thank you very much. How long with the tar stick on them? Can it harm them ? Thank you again....good night. Juice
     
  10. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    You're welcome.
    Pine tar is usually sold in the equine (horse) section at the farmer's co-op, tractor supply store, etc.
    I think I had to apply it a total of two times before the other chickens got the idea that picking on Lil'Bit's butt wasn't much fun anymore.
    It says right on the label in big letters "Not for internal consumption". Don't worry, they won't eat it. They'll get a taste of it on their beaks and then run around rubbing their beaks on everything trying to get the pine tar off.
    You have a good night too. Mine is just starting. [​IMG]
     

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