Pecking problem


8 Years
Oct 27, 2011
Timmonsville, South Carolina
I have 4 silver laced wyandotte hens in the coop. One is picking on the rest and 3 are now almost completely naked on the rear ends. I have 15 eggs in the incubator. I have a brooder and I am building a grow pen. I am thinking I need to do something with this aggressive hen. Should I give her away? eat her? or just make a temporary pen to put her in and hope she learns better behavior. She is an awesome layer. And sweet to people.
Pecking problems can often be solved by management. Chickens need a minimum of 4 square feet per bird inside with another 8+ feet in an outside run. They need roosts - both inside and out. They need things to do. Sometimes problems occur in the winter when they're not going out as much. Hanging cabbages (chicken tetherball!) and tossing treats in litter helps. But, still, you might have an aggressive bird. Sometimes taking her out of the flock for two days and then returning her will upset the pecking order and she can never regain top post. But not always! I have given away a bully of a hen and in her new home she was meek as could be. I've also adjusted my management for bullies (Wyandottes tend to be dominant.) Meanwhile, make sure the pecked hens are okay. If there's blood, they can be pecked to death. Color the exposed skin with blu-kote to darken it. I've written about this on my blog here:
ok, I separated my aggressive girl. I put up a 10 by 10 dog pen and had an old fiberglass doghouse that I am using for her temporary housing. I put pine shavings in the bottom.

It is getting dark and my other girls won't go into their house and she (my aggressive hen) will not go into her house. She is pacing back and forth and I can tell she is stressed out. I feel so bad for her.

I feel like I have no choice but to separate her. My other 3 hens look terrible, no tail feathers left. They are completely naked on their rears and its a little chilly here now. I did put blue kote on them today.

I believe everyone is safe, but I feel terrible about how sad my lonely hen is.

Any suggestions?
All changes are stressful for chickens. Your lone hen can see her home, roost and buddies. She doesn't know she's supposed to go sleep on the floor of the doghouse. Makes sense to you but not to her. It would actually be less stressful to put her in a dog crate for two days. Limited space gives her limited options and she'll settle. The other girls are likely used to following her lead (or avoiding her) and they don't know who should go in the coop first. That will settle down very quickly and I bet they'll be fine the next day. But, don't worry too much! Chickens get stressed immediately, but then are surprisingly adaptable.
I had this problem and tried everything. Then I finaly tried pinless peepers and it worked immediately. the mean hen is still a mean old bully, but she can't hurt the other hens and they all have regrown their feathers. good luck
Same here. I just had one of my new SS pullets turn cannibal. She was brutally liberating feathers right and left. I put peepers on her before she rendered half the flock bald. Before her, I had an EE hen revert to her evil ways after having had peepers removed. I had to put them back on. Peepers really do work for most picking problems. But get any color but red!

If only one chicken is wearing peepers, at first they may focus on the new peeper-wearer, trying to peck them off. I solved this problem by scattering a dozen peepers around the run to desensitize them. With little blue peepers staring up everywhere, no one was put off by them anymore.
well I have separated the biggest problem and she is in a very large dog crate in the garage by herself. She was pulling feathers right and left and eating them. She is my sweetest hen towards people. Loves attention. After separating her, I had another one start to peck but not pull feathers so I pulled her out because she was putting sores on the other ones. They have all been sprayed daily with blue kote. Now I have 2 hens in the large coop, one hen in a dog cage and one in a dog crate. Holy cow, its like having to separate children. If this doesn't work I will be purchasing peepers.
When you put them back together the pecking order will be reestablished. Hopefully, the ones who have been pecking will be demoted. When you do integrate them back into the flock, have lots of distractions - greens, a big lump of sod to scratch at, etc. Redirecting the pecking can help.

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