Please HELP! My whole flock is picking on ONE bird!!!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by keeko, Aug 30, 2010.

  1. keeko

    keeko Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 22, 2009
    Asheville, NC
    Can anyone with more chicken experience - and understanding of flock hierarchy - help me out??

    I had an Ameraucana isolated with a Buff Orpington in my chicken tractor for nearly a month because I suspected her (the Ameraucana) of egg eating. We waited until she laid and left her eggs alone to integrate her back into the flock. When I did it, we put her and the Buff in the main coop at night, when everyone was to roost for the night (since I've been told this is the smoothest way to introduce "new" chickens). Well the Buff had no problem with anyone...no one picks on her, and she doesn't pick on anyone. But the poor Ameraucana is getting bullied by almost EVERYONE!!! One Australorp and a Barred Rock in particular run up and peck her on the head and chase her around anytime she comes out of the coop to eat or drink (the feeder and waterer are in the run, not the coop). So the poor thing is trapped in the coop all day long out of fear and she must be hungry and thirsty.

    I don't know how to make this stop! It's been at least a week, and nothing's changed. Even when they're all out free-ranging in the yard, that one Australorp will run across the yard just to jump on the Ameraucana's back, hold her feathers and peck the sh*t out of her head! I feel so bad, and know this is my fault for splitting up the flock and then putting them back together.

    What can I do to make this stop???

    (p.s. all the girls grew up together as chicks)

    Thank you!!
     
  2. monathequeen

    monathequeen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There is always a chicken who will be picked on after integrating them. An Americana is a small chicken so that dosen't help matters. Just let them do their thing and let the pecking order take place. If you seperate her now, she will never be welcomed with the others. They have a system. She needs to get picked on for now and it will slowly stop. If they're picking on her to the point that she is bleeding and has open wounds, then by all means seperate her or rehome her...I think you just need to give it time and see what happens.
    Keep a good eye on her for blood and wounds...and keep some food and water close to her in the coop.
    Usually it all works out in time...trust me. Good Luck and keep me posted ok ? Ray
     
  3. BC Gal

    BC Gal Out Of The Brooder

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    Gees, it sounds like getting jumped into a gang [​IMG] If it keeps up, maybe you could put a couple of the dominant hens in the tractor for a day or two?
     
  4. Cinderellasnickers08

    Cinderellasnickers08 Out Of The Brooder

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    Is there a way you can actually make sure they are seeing this bird without actually being able to get at it? Like a separate fencing between them so, they can re-aquaint to the flock better? Like a devider, they can see through? Try it, then slowly after a few weeks - a month, take it open to see how they do together. If it still persists separate with the fencing for a little longer.
    On the Australorps I have one that picks on others some too. I separate her with a little time-out for a few times 10 min. each where she can't see the others & she's by herself fenced in. I also say sturnly "NO", ea time she trys to go at them. It's helping, slowly. Try it to see if it works with the others breeds too. Ea breed is different,as they all have different personalities. They do listen, even if they have only a chicken brain. They are social. Australorps are a soldier kind of bird, trying to protect always. It will just take a lot of patience and time. If all else fails separate a few of the other smaller ones with the picked on one, so they are not alone, creating a separate flock. The fencing idea can work to make them all feel like a whole flock even thou they are all devided for safety. Good luck!
     
  5. keeko

    keeko Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 22, 2009
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    Thanks guys!!

    It's so sad because I thought she was at the top of the pecking order before...and now she's way at the bottom.

    I am thinking of rehoming a few of them, for financial reasons, sadly. Now with this going on, I wonder if I should rehome the more aggressive ones? I love this Ameraucana so much, I'd hate to part with her, but I will rehome her if it doesn't get better. I'd prefer to find a new home for the Aussie and the Barred Rock that are causing the trouble.

    Do you think if I put them in the tractor for a few days like BC Gal suggested I'd be able to see what the flock does? And then maybe rehome those guys?

    I'm seeing now how harmonious the flock was before I separated any of them! I'll never do that again if I can help it!
     
  6. Cinderellasnickers08

    Cinderellasnickers08 Out Of The Brooder

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    Short time-outs work best! Separated from ea bird too, so they are a single bird ea getting a thinking time-out to decide to "be-nice!" Tell them to "be-nice". If you put them in longer, you risk the bullier ones also being labeled as outcast from the flock. All this is normal. It took a month to make this happen, it will possibly take just as long to rectify. So don't give up hope! Keep your birds, especially this one that is being picked on right now. It just takes some patience, and a chicken-wire devider. You'll see! I even have a DVD of how they just need time to integrate back into the flock. I myself have some silkies that have not made it back in to the flock, because I removed them for over a few days. I can return them with time, but bigger birds pick on their fluffy top head dress, so for safety I've chosen to keep them devided. They like hanging out together. Australorps are not trying to be such bullies, they just have the protectiveness in them strong. With time-outs, they can calm down! If you free range a bit they will keep you alert to how the whole flock is doing safety-wize. But they can't stop a preditor.
    They are not stupid, but very intelligent birds. Give them all a chance. Chicken wire, so they can see ea other and get to know ea other all over again slowly. All will work out, be patient:)
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2010
  7. monathequeen

    monathequeen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Even if you rehome the bullies, there will be more bullies to take their place. There has to be a "leader" of the flock to keep things in order and sometimes this takes more than one bird.
    The two mean birds you have now are the "BOSS" so to speak.
    like I said, you will just create more bullies by weading out the present bullies. It's a never ending cycle. Just keep your birds and live with it...
     
  8. Buttercup Chillin

    Buttercup Chillin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 27, 2008
    SouthEast TX
    I actually had a similar experience. But I tractor for a day or two.

    Take the two bullies and tractor them for a day and night. Next day let them together with the flock. See what happens, next time 2 days and 2 nights. That's all it took with mine and she wasn't the egg eater either. If that doesn't work, rehome the bullies.

    Around here when chickens disappear the others are on extra good behavior for a time. Course I don't rehome, unless you consider the freezer rehoming. I usually just look straight at them and threaten to wring their necks and they seem to know what that means. Haven't had a problem with any in years.

    You didn't say, did the egg eating stop. Please don't rehome an egg eater, that is sometimes genetic, sometimes a learned behavior.
     
  9. keeko

    keeko Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 22, 2009
    Asheville, NC
    Actually, the egg eater is the one getting beaten up!!!

    Since she started laying (and most everyone else has figured out where to lay) the egg eating has stopped. I have girls laying 2 or 3 eggs in a nest box and they leave them alone, so I take that as a very good sign.

    I wouldn't have re-homed the egg eater without first disclosing her issue and/or I would have just taken her back to the farm where I bought her (where they often throw deformed or imperfect eggs out in the yard for the chickens to enjoy). I had also read that it can be genetic, and since I bought her as a week old chick, she didn't have time to learn that behavior. So interesting...

    Good thing she cut it out, or she would have become dinner (and I'm a vegetarian!)

    As for the bullies, I took your advice and put them in a "time out" in the tractor. The rest of the flock in the main coop has REALLY calmed down a lot in just a day. The girl that's getting bullied is still getting bullied, as monathequeen mentioned she would, but it is far less severe, and she's actually able to come out of the coop, hang out in the run, and eat and drink before someone pecks her and she squawks back into the coop. Before, I could not see her ever re-integrating with the flock with those bullies, the Australorp and Barred Rock. But now it's my two RIR, and they really aren't that mean about it. I think the Ameraucana will build up self-esteem and find her place in the flock over time.

    On another note, I think I'm still going to rehome the ones I've isolated. Luckily they're all young and healthy, so finding folks that want them hasn't been hard so far!

    I hope it continues to work out...I'll know more in the weeks and months to come. THANK YOU all so much for your help!!!
     
  10. keeko

    keeko Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Had to post an update, in case anyone's curious how it worked out...

    It's been about a week, and I'm happy to report that the flock is harmonious! I found a great home for the bullies (who have worked it out amongst themselves), and they have been and will be living in the tractor until the new home can come and pick them up. Everyone is really doing well. As I mentioned before, for financial reasons, we had decided to cut back on three girls (I know, we're usually ADDING chickens, but dangit, organic chicken feed is NOT cheap!), so with the bullying going on, it really just made my decision on who would go a bit easier.

    So I'm happy to say that no other very mean or vicious bullies popped up. The Ameraucana that was having trouble is now out in the run with the girls, sun- and dustbathing with them, and eating snacks alongside them. It's so nice to see that she's out of the coop and moving around with everyone. No doubt another flock leader has stepped forward, but whoever it is isn't being as aggressive or vicious as the Aussie was. So in this case, removing the bully really helped, and didn't create more bullies.

    Just thought I'd let you know how it wrapped up! Thanks again to everyone for all of your help! It's always nice to know I've got friends on BYC [​IMG]
     

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