Need Advice: Engineering pecking order?


11 Years
Jul 24, 2011
We have had chickens for the only five months but I think we have gone through just about everything that could possibly happen to a chicken...well almost...knock on wood. We are now down to three chickens after a raccoon got one our BOs last week and then a fox got our polish chicken the other day!

So...we have two Barred Rocks and an Australorp. Unfortunately, the australorp is the sweetest, shyest thing around and is getting picked on so heavily by one of the barred rocks. This has been going on for awhile but she and the polish were inseparable and seemed like they were looking out for each other. Now that we know the fox is around (we have been smelling the urine that smells like skunk on a regular basis) we have to keep them all locked up together. I'm really at a loss of what to do but we have invested so much time and money into our chickens (they really are so spoiled) that I would like to get more chickens but I'm wondering if it makes sense to also get rid of the more aggressive barred rock. Would it be possible the more gentle barred rock will bond with the australorp if the aggressive barred rock isn't around?

I also know this means we will have to integrate some new chickens to our flock, which we have done in the past and know how difficult that can be.

I would love to hear any advice (encouragement too) to help us figure this out.
Some have had success with sequestering the bossy hen for a day or two, but social engineering can be a game of trial and error. If other gentle chickens are added to the flock that should take some of the attention off of the poor Austrlorp. A lot of people suggest placing a physical barrier in the run between the new and established chickens when introducing them.
Chickens all have their personalities and I have found it is difficult to change their attitudes. I have a couple of aggressive girls, all australorps, and these mean girls pick on the lower ranking birds. These two are relentless. I tried everything to create a peaceful atmosphere and even tried chicken jail. All fruitless works.

So, I came to the conclusion I had 2 options. The first option was rehoming them. I even called a neighbor who said she was take them. I actually loaded them up in the dog crate in the car and was headed over to her place. But I just couldn't do it.

The only other option was these....

After I ordered these I was reluctant for a while to put them on these 2 meanies. But after watching some bad aggression one day and even after I was being bitten by one of these mean girls, well time to put on the peepers.

So I wrapped one of the girls in a towel on my lap, and applied the heated plastic peepers. (You dont' need the pliers if you have a helper or you heat the up in very hot water). Then I moved on to the next meany.

And oh, they hated these things, something awful. At one point I felt sorry for them and removed them. However the aggression continued to the point that the 2 lowest ranking birds had to hide from these girls, barely getting anything to eat or drink. So back on they went!

Well, it took them a couple of days to get used to them. The peepers stop them from being able to "aim, point and shoot" off their beaks. They can not see with both eyes directly in front of them, only being able to see directly down, up or to the left or right. But they got used to them pretty quick and were back to eating and drinking in the normal fashion.

But the good news is, my flock of girls is again peaceful! There is no biting, feather plucking, they can all eat together, drink together, even enjoy snacking together without the biting, screaming and feathers being removed! I love these things. And yes, the girls look silly, but the mental state of these 2 lower ranking birds is fantastic. They are no longer afraid of these meanies, and can hang out with them without the fear of the beak.

These peepers do not change the pecking order however, just keep those terrible beaks where they belong and not used as weapons. Good luck!
Thanks for the great advice! I don't think it will be possible to separate the hens at this point so we may have to go with the pinless peepers. I'm sure so many say this but we had no idea how much work raising chickens would be! I read somewhere that it would be easier than raising kittens so I of course I ran with that idea but I've had so much happen over the last five months. We've had to find a new home for a rooster, take care of a sick chicken for two weeks, integrate two new chickens to our established cluck, take care of a broody hen and now we have lost two of our hens. Surely, we will work this all out so we can enjoy our chickens and the eggs they lay

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