New and over my head

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Kailuamom, Oct 5, 2013.

  1. Kailuamom

    Kailuamom New Egg

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    Oct 5, 2013
    Hi all -

    I'm a newb, and in over my head! We bought a little ranch about a year ago, and have known that I wanted chickens, but hadn't had time to build their home, and had been looking to by a good used one. I have planned to buy their home before getting any babies.

    But, that's not how it went.

    After looking for a year, I found a perfect setup on craigslist, and bought it. It was such a perfect setup that it came with three girls. They handled the move well, but they really have a dynamic going on and I'm concerned.

    One of the girls is bullying the other two. And, the one at the bottom of the order is getting picked on by both.

    The two girls have pretty raw rears. I've blue coated them as best I could (funny, they don't stay still for this! :), but I'm worried.

    I don't really have the ability to separate them unless someone just lives in the run. I really splurged on their setup, and still have to buy sand and shavings - so can't buy a secondary coop. I did separate the bully from the others for transport (in my dog crate) but I need the crate - so that's not good long term.

    Help!

    Kailuamom, on day 2 with 3 chickens.
     
  2. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    Did they just start this since being moved or does it look like it's been going on for a while? Either way, the one doing the pecking really needs to be removed and put in a time out for a while, like a week. Then try her back and see how it goes. The problem is that this could progress to the other two being seriously injured and killed. Even if it's just some temporary fencing for a run and let her sleep in a dog crate at night she needs to be away from the other two and at least let them heal up some. Good luck, sometimes it can be very hard to break a bird of this nasty habit, especially if she was doing this before you got her.

    Edited to add: Just as a side note: If you are interested or planning on raising chicks later to expand your flock these older, aggressive bully birds are not good candidates for integrating new young birds with!
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013
  3. Kailuamom

    Kailuamom New Egg

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    From what I understand, they had four with a happy dynamic, then one died. They were all free ranging until then. Then, the family put their house on the market, and the girls needed to stay in their enclosure. The house so.d quickly, and then the family started moving, still needing to keep the chickens contained During this time the pecking started.

    I don't think the stress of moving has helped.

    Yesterday, we let them out free for about four hours, all was well. Here's the thing, we can only do that when our dogs are elsewhere. So, it's limited. I feel like ranging would fix it, but I like my dogs, so that's not happening full time. Btw - the dogs prey drive went nuts when they saw the chickens in the run. I don't think I will be able to train for a harmonious range existence. The dogs are fast (have caught rabbits) so the birds will mostly be in the coop and run.

    I'm thinking I can section off one part if the run. What can I use for a temporary and cheap coop? That will fit in an 4'x8' space, 2'high. (This is the run under the coop)

    Thanks
     
  4. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    I agree the confinement most likely brought this on. I would make them as large a run as possible and give them stuff to keep them busy. Toss out flakes of alfalfa hay to scratch apart, they like the little leaves. You can throw some dried meal worms or scratch in the hay to give them something to "forage" for. Hopefully with enough room and things to keep them busy they will settle in and this may go away.

    I also agree that you should keep your dogs and chickens strictly separate. High prey drive dogs who enjoy hunting and killing things and have not lived with chickens before are a chicken slaughter waiting to happen.

    I am not sure what you could use as a temporary coop in those space requirements. Maybe a small, used rabbit hutch or pet carrier?
     
  5. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    I would be tempted to make the bully into soup.

    When I have had really bad picking like that, I have had to get rid of either the chicken everyone was picking on (if they were all ganging up on only one) or I had to get rid of the chickens that had gotten into the habit of picking.

    Some other people here on BYC have said that increasing the protein of their feed can help reduce picking.
     
  6. Kailuamom

    Kailuamom New Egg

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    Oct 5, 2013

    Ha - that was my first instinct, and fit may turn out that way, but I sure would rather solve the problem.

    I'm hoping that if they spend more time ranging, they will get "off each other's butts".
     
  7. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    My Coop
    How big is their run? Overcrowding can cause picking as well as boredom and nutritional deficiencies.
     
  8. Kailuamom

    Kailuamom New Egg

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    their run is in a t shape. The top of the T is eight ft wide and three ft long. Then, the long part is another 8.5' long and 6' wide. The coop is above the top of the T, with the same footprint. It looks pretty big to me, but I'm no expert.
     

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