Need Support to End Mayhem Soon!

Barrett Farm

14 Years
Jun 8, 2009
Silicon Valley
What happened to the peaceful area of my garden?
I finally got tired of all the pecking and feather pulling. I removed the hen I identified as a trouble maker. My hens lived with her abuse for one long year. I did not want my new cochin and australorp to have their feathers broken and pulled. I re-homed her (aka 47 by number on her leg band) with her buddy in crime. That started to calm everything down. At the same time I re-homed a cockerel. We are not allowed to house roosters in our city. Shortly after "47" and her buddy left my buff orp became broody. I pull all the eggs that other chickens leave under her. Yes more than one cram into the box, the laying hen drops the egg and the broody one keeps it safe until I come and remove it.
1st Issue: End the Broody Behavior
Pull her and lock her out for the day and night. Put her on the roost when all is dark and let her start fresh?
She jumped out of box this am for feed then mounted a Barred Rock.
2nd Issue: Stop all the pecking and speed up the establishment of who is who in the flock.

Every night I have to go in and help the 3 of the 4 pullets get up to roost. They are scared of the hens. My blue cochin gets up every night and fits in well.
Any suggestions? What did "47" start with her cranky attitude?
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The RIR has one area of her wing that was exposed and it was pecked to draw blood but it is healing and the feathers might be growing in.
One wyandotte resembles a turkey with neck feather missing. And one has the rear shield feathers shortened. They just look scappy and mean.
The screams are what are startling to the others in the group when one of the chickens gets his feathers pulled but there is no blood, just bullying and not living in peace which adds stress and reduces egg production.
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It is to bad this is happening. I have a frizzle rooster that my cochin rooster pulled all his neck feathers out, he looks like a turken now. I separated them, and his feathers are now growing back.
Is it mostly one hen doing this or more? Are they in a small coop? I"ve heard other people have this problem when they had to many in a confined space, it resolved when they gave them more room to run.

I've never had this problem, but mine have lots of outside room, inside is smaller , but mine do ok, without any fighting except those two roosters.
I don't have a number with the sq footage for their area. They have a corner in my yard. The front measures 27' and both sides that meet are 21'. These are California chickens. The wooden fence encloses the two sides the one length of 27' is lined with chicken wire and has three doors. A portion of the area can be separated for the chicks with a separate door to enter through the front. The roof over the top is convex meeting at the fences and is higher over the wall with poultry wire. I can open one, two or three doors that gives additional running space that is about 35x9 feet. And some chickens occasionally jump a small 5' fence to forage into my yard rummage for bugs.

For their roosting needs they have three 9' bars mounted on one of the 21' fences. I even have a grow light that keeps it lite until 10:30 pm to keep eggs coming in the winter months. They have laying boxes mounted on the other fence lined with a fine straw.

They seem to be happiest when I leave them locked in the coop. The fighting and pecking began with "47" a brown wyandotte. I have given them the outside area more since we got rid of the border collie in February. But the pecking and meanness began with "47" becoming a hen.

Last two days, they have not been let out to run free. The new birds are getting around. They are off the bar, eating, drinking and scratching through all the straw. I went out this morning and raked up all the straw in mounds. It gave them something to work at and keep their minds off the younger lower ranking chickens. I take out kitchen scraps and give them romaine lettuce every couple of days.
I hope it just isn't the wyandotte breed that is mean, I just got some bantam ones. Sounds like you have enough space. Just a mean hen maybe . I don't know what to tell you.
I've never had a mean hen or rooster - is this something that comes with bigger flocks?

I've always had a rooster, except when one got killed and we had to find a replacement, just a few weeks.

Our flock has never been more than seven chickens - one rooster and hens. Our hens have been white leghorn, modern game hen, barred rocks, silver laced wyandottes, and one dorking.

They free range during the day, then share a 4 X 8 foot coop with 3 roosting bars, and a fenced run.

There's a pecking order but very little bullying - one of the wyandottes started messing with the others when they were roosting for the night but I just swatted her very lightly whenever she went for anyone and she stopped after a couple days. Same with the rooster - he tried being aggressive with us but we just flapped a towel at him and scared him silly.

Now the dorking is raising 6 chicks in a fenced off area of the run. And I'm getting worried about bullying reading these posts!
It sounds like you have nice space. Low protein often gets mentioned in feather picking threads...Maybe consider what you're feeding them as their main food & what's the low-protein scrap to main food ratio?

I can't think of anything else right off the bat. Good luck with them.
Tomorrow I will toss some dog food into the coop. The protein is 19 or 21% and the laying mash is 16%. I have used dry dog food in the past when the chickens are blowing their coats. This is not happening now but the stress from "47" could be affecting them or they have feather envy. The blue cochin is very stunning. The searching for dog food also helps with boredom and it helps them establish their pecking order.

I stopped one hen from eating a feather she picked up off the ground. There are feathers on the ground from their normal winter shedding. I try to turn them into the straw so they can't find them.

Locking them together in the coop has forced them to learn to get along. I occasionally hear a startled hen but all the pullets still have their feathers. The other hens have new feathers growing in.

"47", the dominant wyandotte did more damage then I realized.

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