Pecking order bumming me out.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by jaloola, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. jaloola

    jaloola Happy Joyous & Free

    Oct 21, 2010
    I only have four hens. Started with two in October and then adopted two just over a month ago. The EEs are roughly a year older than my other girls.
    Of course there's been an adjustment period while everyone sorts out where they are in the pecking order. I was ready for it and tried my best to make it as easy as possible for all involved. It's settled down a lot after much fluffing, flapping, strange sounds, rushing about, stink eye and posturing. of the new EEs just won't leave my sweet Java alone. She goes after her head whenever she gets a chance and is relentless about it.

    Jo, the mottled java is my favorite girl and I'm starting to resent Bop, the EE for her behavior. I guess I'm looking for some assurances that this is going to work out and stop eventually. Bop is in serious danger of ending up in the oven.

    From left to right: Jo, Lucky, Bip and Bop
    Not a great picture...Jo is blurry cuz she is trying to eat her scratch as fast as possible because Bop is coming in fast from the right to peck her.
  2. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress

    Sep 6, 2007
    Corydon, Indiana
    It's kind of weird. No problems and then this month one hen growls, and 3 other hens and the roo started to group attack my sweet little Polish girl, just that one out of 5 of them. She spent everyday hiding. I separated them. I don't know what goes thru their minds!
  3. BrianT

    BrianT Songster

    May 15, 2010
    North FL
    I think it will work itself out. It is indeed trying to watch hens go at each other. It has happened at my place but always works itself out and you will always see some form of it. Just think of it as sibling rivalry.
  4. AJ666

    AJ666 Songster

    Apr 5, 2010
    La Crosse, WI
    My favorite girl, an EE, is being harrased as bad as yours, and theyre the same age! Its so hard to watch but I cant stop it. I askes the same question and had the good suggestion of separating the trouble maker for a couple days and the return them and they will be lower on the pecking order. Good luck!
  5. jaloola

    jaloola Happy Joyous & Free

    Oct 21, 2010
    Thanks all. I know it's going to happen but it's still hard to watch.
    At least with dogs I can step in to correct bad behavior. The 'hands off' aspect of chickens is rough sometimes.
  6. onthespot

    onthespot Deluxe Dozens

    Mar 29, 2008
    Riverside/Norco, CA
    You can give the java places to hide, break up visual contact by leaning small pieces of plywood against the sides here and there, or a larger cardboard box in the middle of the pen, or put feed up on a shelf eighteen inches up above the pen floor. Changes in height helps to break social tension and eases the transition period. Good luck. Hope they work it out soon.
  7. hokankai

    hokankai Songster

    May 18, 2010
    SW WA
    I had the same experience with a pair of bantam cochins I got to add to our girls. One of them just would NOT let UP. I tried separating her for a couple days...didn't work. Tried distracting her...didn't work. She would latch onto the combs of the other 8 girls who are all very friendly. I eventually decided to just find them a new home that would appreciate their feisty personalities. It probably would have worked out eventually...but after raising the 8 we had the bantams were just making me resent them [​IMG]
  8. elmo

    elmo Crowing

    May 23, 2009
    Try sitting among the flock. When you see Bop going after Jo, point your finger straight at Bop and make a sound. I say "nyet." In my flock, there's something mesmerizing to them about my pointing finger. They stop in their tracks. Then I let the bullied bird eat while keeping the rest of the flock at bay.

    We had a similar problem last summer. Martha was the head hen and she bullied Billina, our favorite, mercilessly. Pokey, her sidekick and the number 2 hen, followed Martha's lead. We had to rehome our rooster because of a neighbor's complaint (he was illegal), so to find him a good home we offered a hen to go with him. It's easier to find a home for a pair than it is to find a home for a rooster by himself. So of course we picked Martha to go with our rooster.

    I let our three remaining hens go broody to hatch out some more chickens for us, and when the flock re-emerged after the hens were done raising their chicks, wonder of wonders! Billina became the head hen! But, unlike Martha, she's a benevolent monarch. She is not vindictive as Martha was, and when she asserts herself over the other hens, she does not chase them relentlessly around the yard.

    Our lowest ranking hen right now is Hermione. We make sure to give her extra one-on-one time with us, and as it happens she's a very quick learner and our smartest hen. We're training our chickens to do tricks, and Hermione has already learned to ring a bell and to fly up to the arm, and from one person to another person.
  9. jaloola

    jaloola Happy Joyous & Free

    Oct 21, 2010
    Very helpful ideas!
    I am going to try a visual block inside the run first. The structure is pretty low so I have to crawl in if I want to sit...I'll try that if the visual block doesn't work.
    I'm so grateful for the BYC community. Your ideas and help are so valuable.

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