One mean chicken!

jahphotogal

Chirping
7 Years
May 15, 2012
242
4
83
CT
I have four year-old chickens, and seven new pullets, about 7 weeks old. My new coop isn't ready so I've been letting the chicks spend the day outside with the other girls, in a separate enclosure but they are right next to each other and can see each other through the chain link - we've been doing that for maybe 10 days. The littles go back in the porch at night. When I'm in there with them I let them mix around to see how they do. Most of the big girls tolerate the littles - they might menace them a bit, but basically ignore them. One, however, "Olive, the Olive Egger" is vicious -she'll chase them all around the yard and bite, hard. (She also bullies one of the older ones, Penguin the Blind Chicken, who was blinded in a hawk attack. Penguin's not too nice to the littles either but since she can't see them she's pretty harmless most of the time - they can get away from her.)

Is there anything I can do to get Olive to be nicer / less aggressive? yesterday I locked her up in the coop for an hour and let everyone else hang out together, which they did with no incident. But I can't keep her in there forever!
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,296
20,158
907
Southeast Louisiana
Some chickens are just total brutes. It doesn’t matter if they are a hen or rooster, they are just bullies and brutes. You’ve probably noticed they all have different personalities.

Part of it too is that she appears to be top hen. There is no other flock master to keep her in line. Think of it as absolute power corrupts absolutely. Some just get carried away with having that much power. If another chicken were flock master, they may help keep her in line.

Or it could be that as flock master she sees the young ones as a threat to her flock so she is attacking them to protect her flock. With chickens you are never sure what is going on in their little birdbrains.

There is something you can try. Isolate the bully from the entire flock for about a week. Don’t put her where they can see each other, anything like that. Really isolate her. The pecking order will be reset with her gone. You might see a little scuffling and such while they sort it out, but probably nothing too bad. Let the young ones continue to share time with the older ones.

When you put the brute back with the flock, she will no longer be the top hen. She’ll have to reestablish herself in the pecking order. Sometimes they don’t wind up on top when it gets reset this way. She may be too busy with pecking order stuff to bother the young ones. Or by the time the new pecking order is sorted, she may accept the young ones as part of the flock.

The idea is to mess with the current pecking order, which isn’t working. I can’t give you any absolute guarantees that this will help, but it is worth a try.
 

jahphotogal

Chirping
7 Years
May 15, 2012
242
4
83
CT
That sounds pretty good. She was a latecomer to last year's flock and doesn't dominate the two oldest chickens but they are comparatively mild-mannered - she is sort of the middle one and only bullies those below her. Before Penguin went blind I never saw her act mean at all! I will find a way to isolate her (poor girl) which may have another benefit - she is an escape artist who is constantly finding new ways to get out of the pen, and new places in my yard to lay. If she's locked up for a week maybe she can be broken of that!

Do you think it would be too cruel to keep her in a dog crate in my porch for that time? (It's where the babies sleep now - once they move outside I can put her in.) It's about 3x4 feet - not exactly palatial but she can walk around in it.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,296
20,158
907
Southeast Louisiana
That sounds plenty big enough for a nest if she is laying, food, water, and room to poop. It’s bigger than what some people use to isolate a broody hen while they are incubating eggs.

She will almost certainly not like being locked up and isolated away from the other chickens like that, but one of you has to be the adult in this and it sounds like she is doing a pretty poor job of it.

I’m sort of joking with that comment. I can’t see that you are doing anything wrong at all with what you are doing now. It works for the vast majority of us. I’m not at all saying you are not being an adult. She won’t like it. Just be prepared for her to act up.

I really wish you luck with this and hope that it works. Occasionally you just get a bad one, but I think you have a reasonable chance of success.
 
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jahphotogal

Chirping
7 Years
May 15, 2012
242
4
83
CT
Thanks and don't worry I didn't take any offense at the 'adult' comment. It is kind of hilarious to think that my chicken isn't being a grownup so I have to! She's beautiful and very docile when I pick her up, and she lays pretty green eggs, so I hope I can 'tame' her a bit. I will try the dog crate and hope for the best - I want all my girls to get along!

I'll let you know how it goes, and thank you!
 

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