New member here. I have a pecking order question.

Shhirl

In the Brooder
7 Years
May 29, 2012
10
0
22
Neenah, WI
Hi everyone!

I acquired 10, 10-month-old hens on March 19, four RIRs, 4 Australorps, a New Hampshire Red (absolutely love her), and what might be a black sex link. They were raised together from day one. I've had troubles with two of them, one to the point that we culled her today because she was eating several eggs a day. I added oyster shell calcium to their diet and tried plastic eggs, golf balls, solid wood eggs, and eggs filled with mustard (she'd just wipe her beak off on the bedding and go back to eating the shell), before we ended up making roll-out nest boxes. She outsmarted those, too, figuring out how to crane her neck into it, hook her head around the egg, and roll it back into the box where she could peck it open. She'd stalk and pester the other chickens as they were laying, knowing she'd have a snack soon. That being said, she was also low chicken on the totem pole.

The second chicken is a bully who also has a taste for eggs, but she doesn't appear to be smart enough to retrieve them once they've rolled down the slope into the collection box. She also walks up and down the cover of the collection box when other chickens are laying, even pushing the curtains aside and staring them down, or marching back and forth on the roost and squawking loudly if any of them are in the process of laying. She also pecks at my legs whether I'm bringing them food or collecting eggs.

They all seem to sense something is up, since one of them is missing. Even the bully didn't harass me when I went to secure the coop tonight.

So, my question is, will having the lowest member of the flock removed change the pecking order at all? Is there a chance that the bully will lose her place? If not, how do I go about isolating her for a few days so I don't have to send her to the stew pot as well? I have a 2'x3' wire dog crate I could house her in, but where should I put it? I'm in northern Wisconsin where it's still too cold and wet to leave her outdoors in the crate.

Thanks in advance for any help.
 

drumstick diva

Still crazy after all these years.
Premium member
10 Years
Aug 26, 2009
125,447
175,916
1,857
Out to pasture
Having the lowest one removed really doesn't change things except now another chicken is the lowest. You could put the bully in a cage in your garage maybe or basement since you said it is still so cold outside.

Are the bad ones the same breed?
 

TwoCrows

A Native Raven
Staff member
Premium member
9 Years
Mar 21, 2011
40,956
61,846
1,492
New Mexico, USA
My Coop
My Coop


Welcome to BYC!

Sorry you are having troubles with egg eating. I was having troubles as well for a while, but caught it early enough and used curtains and all is quiet so far on the egg eating front! So I am not sure what you can do about this egg eating other than do as you have done and cull the egg eaters.

As for removing the lowest ranking bird, this will not change anything in the order. Only when higher ranking birds die or are removed does the order change. Removing bullies needs to be done for several weeks and it is best to keep them completely out of the coop and in another area completely so they forget everything.

Good luck with this issue and I hope you can get this straightened out soon.
 

Shhirl

In the Brooder
7 Years
May 29, 2012
10
0
22
Neenah, WI
Thanks for the welcome. :)

Yes, they are (or, I should say, were) the same breed - Rhode Island Reds.

I was afraid that removing the lowest ranking bird wouldn't change anything, but I was hoping it might shake things up enough to cause some change. I just hope they don't all gang up on the second lowest bird as bad as they did the last one. She was culled for the egg eating, though, not to hopefully change the pecking order. I read so many different articles on how to work around egg eaters, hoping to avoid killing her, but she was getting more eggs than we were some days. Today, for instance, we got four; the worst turnout since we've gotten them. One suggestion was "collecting the eggs often." I'd literally have to live in the coop to do that. I managed to get all 10 eggs once, on a weekend, and I was out there no less than every 20 minutes. Not a good long-term solution.

I'm pretty certain they're not overcrowded. The coop is 8x8 and has a ladder to a second-floor loft (it used to be a playhouse) and they have outdoor access of at least another 100 sq. ft. They have plenty of room to get out of each others' feathers if they need to.
 
Last edited:

Kelsie2290

Free Ranging
Premium member
8 Years
Feb 18, 2011
36,683
4,863
556
Ohio
Hello :frow and Welcome To BYC! Sorry about the egg eating problems, they are a pain to deal with. Have you tried pinless peepers on the bully? They are sometimes a good quick fix. Are those two the only ones who were/are egg eating, or are others in the flock also doing it?
 

Shhirl

In the Brooder
7 Years
May 29, 2012
10
0
22
Neenah, WI
As far as I can tell, those were the only two that were problematic with eggs, the culled one more so than the bully. The bully doesn't seem to have figured out how to retrieve them after they roll out of the nest box, but I think she knows enough to keep her own egg from rolling out of her reach. That's definitely one thing I've learned - chickens are NOT stupid. LOL I haven't tried pinless peepers yet, although it was on my list of possibilities. Are they only available online, or do co-ops/feed stores maybe sell them? I didn't see them at Fleet Farm, and I haven't seen them on the Tractor Supply website (haven't gotten to the store for a couple of weeks).
 

Shhirl

In the Brooder
7 Years
May 29, 2012
10
0
22
Neenah, WI
If I choose to try isolating her, what's the minimum I should try? I've seen numbers from two days to several weeks now.
 

Kelsie2290

Free Ranging
Premium member
8 Years
Feb 18, 2011
36,683
4,863
556
Ohio
Pinless Peepers are on E-bay or most online poultry stores sell them, ocasionally somebody will sell extras on BYC in the Buy-Sell-Trade forum since you usually have to get a pack. Don't think I have seen them in feed stores like TSC very often, they may be in the non-chain stores. Don't know why some hens are such determined egg eaters, never tried to do a test on a confirmed one as to where eggs ranked in the choice of treats for them, but would be an interesting experiment . What protein percentage food do you have them on, they are on it free choice?

i find usually three-four days or so works, the longer you have her apart the more of a stranger she is... you don't want to go so long you actually have to reintegrate her.
 
Top Bottom