Pecking Order


In the Brooder
10 Years
Nov 1, 2009
Hi All

I have a bit of a pecking order problem. I have four hens, and three of them are just beating the hell out of the fourth one. I have read through past forum posts about chicken jail for the bully and those little blinders you can put on them, but its 3 out of four this time. One is definitely the ringleader (ironically the smallest one), another gets in on the action and sometimes starts it, the third, while not the initiator, will gladly jump in, and meanwhile, poor Peeps is just getting walloped. She was the largest of the four, but I don't think I am imagining things when I think she is looking smaller these days, probably because she just isn't getting snacks like the others. She doesn't even try to get them anymore, she just stands a safe distance away. Today my husband said she wouldn't even come out of the henhouse. Now she's molting and it seems like the attacks are increasing. Usually just feather loss but on occasion there has been wounds to her comb.

They have a lot of space so I don't think it is the issue, and the bullying had started when they were freeranging prior to the run construction.

I just feel so sorry for the poor girl, she walks around with her tail down and is usually off cowering by herself. She was so lovely before this all started.

Poor thing,

No experience with peepers.

Have you considered putting the 2 or 3 bullies in solitary confinement for a week or 2? Knock them down a peg. Maybe just the ringleader would be enough to shake up the flock dynamics.

Good luck,
Check walloped bird for visual or auditory problems. Something maybe wrong with communication where subordinate is unable to respond appropriately to aggression because not receiving aggression warnings.
i know how the hen and you must feel . i hand fed my delaware for a few days while i built an aditional attached run--then got one of her sisters to keep her company---for me--it worked out fine--but i would separate her from the [email protected]$%^#@#$%$$%^^&& other hens ,because it sounds like she;s afaird to eat or drink
I would separate the ringleader first, and watch. If the other two continued this, only then would I separate the one getting beat up.
glad you brought this up--i have the exact same problem! my BR hen, Pauline, has the "godfather" complex...she is the bully but she simply "trains" subordinants to do her dirty work. She has recruited my andalusian hen, beatrix, to attack all other hens we own. We can literally sit and watch Pauline eat with Beatrix and Pauline will reach over and grab her comb on occasion. She is clearly the boss, but then Beatrix will maul all the other girls like she is the boss. I just introduced a couple more girls this evening, bringing the total number of hens to 6 and the new girls (BO's) are absolutely petrified. I got these large girls in the hopes that they could teach Pauline and Beatrix a has officially backfired. Therefore, if you find a solution, please pass it on...and btw, I have tried to isolate the bullies with absolutely no luck. They simply re-claim their throne immediately upon re-entry.
Yeah I have tried separating a different hen a while back and it didn't work at all but I think I will try again with this one. The other one we had to rehome, she was completely nuts, chicken jail just made her crazier. The new bully isn't nuts, just mean.

How long do you typically separate them for, for those of you who have had it work.
Keep the "bully" away for a minimum of a week. Allow the flock to develop a different dynamic before reintroducing her.

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