Older bird still going after younger one

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by GSPx2, Oct 15, 2013.

  1. GSPx2

    GSPx2 Chirping

    Aug 4, 2013
    New Jersey
    It's been over a month now and my older Production Red keeps chasing my younger GLW pullet. When they free range it's not as bad as it was. Now it's rare and more like a bluff charge as a reminder to the younger bird that she's still in charge.

    My concern now is whenever they get into an area where the younger one can't get away, like the run. The older bird knows it and goes right after her. She usually corners her causing the younger one to get low and put her head into the corner of the run. And then the older one pecks and scratches at her non stop.

    I still have them seperated unless they are free ranging. Another concern I have is winter. Right now I have a divider in the coop. And every morning before work I take the young one out and put her in a small dog kennel in my shed. I've been thinking about building a small coop just for her.

    Any thoughts or suggestions?
  2. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Crowing

    Mar 6, 2008
    Northern California
    I have no idea what the age difference is between the two birds you mentioned, but putting young birds out too early with adults is never a good idea. I don't even recommend mixing birds of vast age differences because of the inconveniences and complications. What you need are two separate outside/inside areas that aren't too confining. Space and number of birds within that space make a difference. Remove the production red from the flock instead of the younger, more docile bird. Do that for a few days, put the red hen back and observe behavior. If the red hen continues pecking the other, remove her from the flock for a few more days, then try it again. Wyandotte hens usually hold their own as adults from what I've seen. Production reds, in my experience, tend to be more aggressive compared to some other breeds. Pecking order establishment is normal, and sometimes harsh, but becomes balanced so long as no injuries result.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2013
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I don’t know your goals, circumstances, or how much your chickens are pets to you, so bear with me. Also, how many chickens do you have?

    How old is that pullet? It’s normal for more mature hens to outrank immature pullets. Eventually the pullet matures enough so she can force her way into the pecking order. That normally occurs when they start laying for me, though some can go longer.

    But what you are describing is not what I consider normal. You have a brute and a bully. What normally happens is that when the pullet invades the older hen’s personal space, the older hen is perfectly within her rights in chicken society to peck the immature chicken. The pullet then runs away and things are back to normal, though there might be a bit of chasing to sink the message home. But it seems yours goes out of her way to attack that pullet. And you are right. In a confined space where the pullet cannot get away, that hen could kill her.

    Assuming you have other hens, the bully is probably either at the top of the pecking order and is defending her flock from what she considers an intruder (especially of you don’t have a dominant rooster) or is at the bottom of the pecking order and is jealously defending herself from being knocked down even further. My problems normally come from the hens at the bottom of the pecking order, not the ones on top.

    One of my goals is to raise them for meat and I have enough hens that I can eliminate one if I need to. That hen would have already met the crock pot for me, but that is likely not an option for you.

    So what can you do? One option is to do like you are doing. Let them free range together but keep them separated when confined. Eventually the pullet may mature enough to stand up to the bully and put her in her place.

    If you have other chickens that accept the pullet, you can confine the bully for a week or so away from the flock. That should knock her out of her place in the pecking order. When you put her back with the flock, she may be too busy sorting out her own pecking order issues to bother the pullet.

    Can you get rid of the older hen? Not necessarily eat her but re-home her. To me, peace in the flock is more valuable than any one chicken.

    That’s all I can think of. Good luck!
  4. GSPx2

    GSPx2 Chirping

    Aug 4, 2013
    New Jersey
    The red is aprox 7 months and the golden is 4 months. I only have 3 birds total and want to build a bigger coop and run but I just don't have the extra money right now. I was thinking spring time but maybe I can start buying the supplies a little at a time now and hopefully have something made before the first snow fall.

    There is a big age difference and I learned my lesson about that.

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