Need Help Understanding the "Pecking Order"


6 Years
Mar 23, 2013
I have six red, all bought as chicks at the same time. One is buff colored, the other five are red. The pecking order has been established and the buff is definitely at the bottom. I understand that this is normal, but have a hard time watching as the other five peck at her unmercifully. She runs to a corner of the pen and tucks her head down to escape their pecking. A couple of days ago,
I had finally had enough, so I put her in a wire dog crate separating her from the bullies! Even though this is working, I don't want it to be permanent. The buff is the only one not laying eggs. I thought it may be because she is so stressed out! She may be a little smaller than the others but looks healthy. I don't think she is eating much food, but enjoys pecking for bugs in the yard. Any ideas?
If they are keeping her from eating then it is a bit too extreme. Has it always been like this or does it seem to be getting worse recently? Can you tell if there is one main bully? I would add a second feeder and water as far away from the first as possible right away to help with the food guarding.

I would start by assessing her health and their overall environment. Is it possible she is ill or injured or that something is wrong with her physically? Chickens tend to attack weak or sick birds so it could be a sign that something is amiss, especially if it seems a recent development.

How much space do you have per bird indoor and outdoor? What is their diet? Is there anywhere for her to get away from them-anything to hide under of behind?
ChickensRDinos - I just noticed the bullying recently. I will observe them and see if I can find the main bully, but they all go after her. I will add a second feeder and water away from the first. Thanks for that suggestion. I think they have plenty of room - a large coop with room underneath and a yard about 5x7. As far as her health is concerned, she doesn't seem to be as active as the others, but she looks healthy. I feed them layer feed, provide gravel and crushed oyster shells, and give them raw vegetable scraps. I will come up with a place for her to hide. That is a good idea. My avatar is now a picture of her taken today. Thanks for your help.
ChickensRDinos has some very good advice. Second the, provide multiple food and water sources, and see if you can identify if there is one main trouble maker or more. I would double check her health wise, especially if she seems less active than the others, do you know if she ever has laid eggs? She is a red sex link, and while they are wonderful egg layers, they are also somewhat more prone to health problems related to that.
I just wanted to thank you for your reply to my post and give you an update. The chicken was sick and died last night. That is apparently the reason for the pecking. She had worms really bad. I wish I had realized this sooner and treated her. I may have been able to save her. I treated her as soon as I knew, but it was too late. I am new to this and learning the hard way I guess.

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