New flock with big bully

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Chickalishdelish, Jul 11, 2017.

  1. Chickalishdelish

    Chickalishdelish In the Brooder

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    Jul 11, 2017
    Fife, Scotland
    Hello,

    I've a brand new little flock of 3 POL chickens who have only been together since Sunday in our back garden setup. One of the ladies (Rita) has taken to chasing and pecking my other two girls, particularly the smallest one (Penny), which had been in the same run as her when I bought her. This morning I went to let the ladies out and I noticed that Rita had a dripping orange beak - it turns out she had eaten Penny's egg (though this may have been broken in an attempt to escape Rita).

    This evening as I was rounding them up in to the coop for the night, Rita was running at Penny quite viciously and as I shut them up I could hear Penny darting around trying to escape the attacks. When I've been out to check on them, Rita is the only bird sitting on the roosting bar, the other two are cowering in the nest box. I hadn't noticed the bullying this bad until today really.

    The girls free range over half our garden during the day and have access to grit, cider vinegar in their water and plenty of foraging entertainment.

    As they've only been together a short time, is this just Rita asserting her dominance? Will it settle? Is there anything I can do to help Penny and Pam?
     
  2. Oceanpizza

    Oceanpizza Chirping

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    If the bullying persists, I would re-home them. That's what I did with two of my cockerels.
     
  3. Chickalishdelish

    Chickalishdelish In the Brooder

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    Jul 11, 2017
    Fife, Scotland
    Thanks. I was hoping it wouldn't come to that but it may yet.
     
  4. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

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    If all these hens were strangers to one another before you brought them to your place, then this is normal social ordering and it should settle down soon.

    If these three knew one another in their prior home, then you have temperamental issues, strong against weaker in addition to the social ordering triggered by the move to the new home.

    Knowing which will dictate whether you wait it out or try to intervene. Meanwhile, plenty of space, roosting perches of varying heights, and maybe even a partition on the roosting perch to separate the bully from the others will help things settle down, hopefully.

    Another thing I've had success with in the past is to referee with a long handled paddle, thrusting it in between the bully and the victim when the bully starts going at her. A few times of the bully running head on into an immovable object and she may decide it's no longer the fun sport it was at first.
     
    Chickalishdelish likes this.
  5. Chickalishdelish

    Chickalishdelish In the Brooder

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    Jul 11, 2017
    Fife, Scotland
    Thanks, that's a very helpful response. I know that the bully and the most bullied chicken were known to each other, which is why I'm a bit concerned this is a temprement issue. I could try partitioning them in the evening, but that may be difficult unless I get a larger coop. I could invest in a larger coop but I'm concerned that that's a large investment which may not resolve the problem.

    I'll give the advice about intervening a go, and try and partition them and see how they get on.
     
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    Do you have some hide outs in your set up? Often times I see runs that are just open rectangles of space. There is not place for a bird to get out of sight of each other. When a bird displays dominance, the submissive bird gives way. In my pen, they often run behind something out of sight. The top bird, then goes on to eating accepting the "bow to the queen" tribute. She no longer has to prove her point.

    If the lower bird cannot get out of sight, I think it can trigger the response in the more aggressive bird, this bird is not showing respect, so I need to thump her harder, or chase her farther.

    Putting a scrap piece of ply wood up, 2 ft by 3 ft. Place it so that it can be escaped by either side. Put a second feed dish behind it, so that it is out of sight from the other feed area. Lean a pallet against the wall. Put a pallet up on blocks so that birds can either get under it or on top of it. It will look more cluttered, but it will give a lot more interest to your birds, and will actually increase their usable space.

    Mrs K
     
  7. Pretty much the only temperament that any chicken displays is a mistrusts of of it's fellow chickens.
     
    Chickalishdelish likes this.
  8. Chickalishdelish

    Chickalishdelish In the Brooder

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    Jul 11, 2017
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    Thanks Mrs K. Yes, their run is pretty large and contains shrubs and a wheelbarrow as hideouts/playthings so no issue with that through the day time.

    The trouble really starts when it's bedtime and they all have to be confined to one coop. I can hear other two darting and squawking from one side of the coop to the other as they're running away from Rita the bully. There isn't much I can do to provide somewhere to hide in there, short of partitioning it in half and separating them completely at night. I wasn't sure whether it may be a little soon for that though, being that they've only really been together a few days and need to establish their pecking order.
     

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