Please, tell me if doing the right thing! (hen and pullet question)


9 Years
May 2, 2010
I have two 13 week old pullets who are now being introduced in with 3 big girls.

What I have been doing this week so far is keeping the pullets in the coop/run during the day while the bigger ones free range all day. At night, I let the big ones in. The little ones try to get right up on the roost with them- they are tenacious about it!- but they end up sleeping below in the nesting boxes because the elder ones make them. In the a.m., I go out early and let the big ones out as soon as they come off their roost (otherwise the little ones are not allowed to eat, even though I have 4 feeding stations.)

Should I be giving the whole group more time together? I just hate seeing the little ones picked on and pecked on. They have all been in each others nighttime company for about a week now (and were in separate cages at all times before that). Should I be be letting them "work it out" more and not letting the big ones out all day? Or is it good to wait until the little ones are bigger and more the same size as the elders? I don't want to let the little ones free range with the group yet as I can not catch them- they are very afraid of me- and the yard is big.

Issue #2 is that one of the pullets is being picked on in her back tail feathers by the other pullet. It doesn't look horrible- not all bloody- but definitley raw and a lack of feathers on the tail. Should I be medicating this?

Thanks for your help!
First, the tail picking - i would spray some blue-kote on this right away to discourage continued picking.

Second - if you are allowing your chickens to free range all day and come in at night, and your pullets have been sleeping in the coop every night for some time, you shouldn't have to catch them for bedtime. They should naturally go to sleep in the place they know as home.

At this point, i would think that unless your yard is very small, those five chickens should be able to get along just fine free ranging together. Free ranging together will also help the pullets to learn their place in the flock.

If you have plenty of food out, the older ones will get tired of eating at some point, and the younger ones will get a chance to eat. They just have to wait their turn, and if you have plenty available, they will be able to eat.

I'm not going to sit here and say you're doing anything wrong. It sounds like you're paying lots of attention, and you care very much for the welfare of your chickens. I can only say that if it were me, i would ease up a bit and give yourself a break. Unless the hens are being mean to the point of blood, i take a hands off approach and let them work it out. It's just their natural process. The earlier they begin it, the sooner there will be peace....and less work for you each day.
I agree! Sounds like they are doing fine. Unless there is blood I would let them establish their pecking order. I have chickens from 2 months to 2 years together right now. The younger ones just had to learn their place in the flock, and that is only established with pecking order.

I would put some blue kote on the ones rear, but otherwise let them all be & free range together. They will eventually get on the roost with the other girls.
I wouldn't say you should treat it. Yes, CERTAINLY let them together during the day. You have to let them worki t out, or else you won't get ANYWHERE. Chikens hardly ever fight at night. Keep up the good work! Eventually they'll sleep together. Oh yeah, and make sure they don't bleed.

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