Problem Hen

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by CoopMama1517, Jun 17, 2019.

  1. CoopMama1517

    CoopMama1517 In the Brooder

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    Apr 13, 2018
    Wisconsin
    Hi all!

    I have 4 hens (2 Australorps and 2 RI Reds) that are laying and just over a year old now. It's just been the 4 of them. My husband got me 7 chicks (3 Wyandottes and 4 Isbars) for Mother's Day. They are about 2/3 months old now. 3 are for sure roos and won't be sticking around. I had them in the brooder until they got too big and then incorporated them into the coop with a barrier between them and the hens. Everything seemed to be going well. They'd look at each other but not show signs of aggression. They are all together now and all free range. 3 of my older hens don't care about them at all and have continued on their daily routine. The chicks don't travel far from the coop so the hens don't really hang out with them but they don't seem to mind them. However, one of my older hens, a lorp, is super aggressive to the chicks. The chicks and hens are all in the coop together, but the chicks are now forced to hide in a small cubby when ever she's in the coop with them, aka every night. The other hens just roost and pay them no mind but this one will peck at them, chase them, stand in the door so they can't come in, stand in the door so they can't get out and then attack them, etc. The chicks sprint out every morning when she leaves to get food and water as quickly as possible. Tonight I had to scare the hen off until the chicks were tucked in. She doesn't roost with the other hens either, she sits in one of the empty nest boxes all night. I'm not sure what to do or what the issue is here. Eventually the chicks will be big enough to stand up for themselves but that's not a quick thing. They've also showed interest in roosting but the roost is too tall. I'd make a shorter one but I'm worried about what the hen will do to them. Has anyone else had just one prior chicken have issues with new ones?
     
  2. trudyg

    trudyg Songster

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    Jun 3, 2013
    North Alabama
    Can you pen up the mean hen for several days? Sometimes that changes the dynamic enough so when she comes back she's no longer top dog. It would at least give the younger ones a few days to mature in peace.
     
    CoopMama1517 likes this.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    She's probably the low hen in the pecking order of the older birds,
    they are often the most aggressive when new birds are added.

    How long has the barrier been down?
    How big is your coop, in feet by feet?
    Dimensions and pics(inside and out) would help immensely.
    I would put up another roost for the youngsters.

    Some of these tips might help.
    Integration Basics:

    It's all about territory and resources(space/food/water).
    Existing birds will almost always attack new ones to defend their resources.
    Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best if mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

    The more space, the better.
    Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no copious blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down and beaten unmercilessly, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide 'out of line of sight'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds. Roosts, pallets or boards leaned up against walls or up on concrete blocks, old chairs tables, branches, logs, stumps out in the run can really help. Lots of diversion and places to 'hide' instead of bare wide open run.
     
    Chip0523 likes this.

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