Problem with hens fighting.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by rebrascora, Mar 4, 2014.

  1. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi

    I have an assorted flock of hens and 2 cockerels. One cockerel is kept in a large caged area in the hen house(stable) to prevent fighting. My partner recently bought me a pair of cream leg bar hens to go with the hen and cockerel of that breed I already have and a trio of bantum silkies/silky crosses. I put the new birds in the cage with the cockerel and that has all gone very well so far but one of the new leg bar hens and the original leg bar have been squaring up to each other through the mesh of the cage. After a few days I tried to let the leg bar hens out but the original leg bar and one of the new ones were fighting really badly. The cockerel Harry was trying to intervene, bless him, but it was getting really nasty and I ended up putting them back into the cage. I've managed to let the silkies out into the hen house but I've had to construct another cage that they can run into when they get bullied. I'm reasonably confident that the other hens will stop bullying the silkies in time but the 2 leg bars fighting was a bit over the top and I really want to keep all the leg bars in a hen ark together, so I need to sort out this pecking order issue but not sure I can let them fight it out to it's potentially bloody conclusion..... neither of them looked like backing down and it really was like watching cock fighting.

    I've read a few posts on here about dealing with bullying but so far not managed to find anything helpful to deal with this mutual fighting. The original leg bar hen who is outside the cage is actually the lowest in the pecking order, so I assume she is looking to increase her status. I don't really want to swap things around and put her in the cage and take the other two out as she has just started laying.... my first blue egg arrived on Friday. Also the new leg bars may fight with some of the other hens or get bullied and I would then have no where else to put them. Just wondering if I put the two offenders in a dark box together for a day or two, where they don't have room to fight or move much, whether that would help them bond. It seems awful to suggest this, but a blood bath would be far worse.

    Thanks in advance for any replies/suggestions.

    Barbara
     
  2. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    There is a difference in bullying and establishing pecking order. This is pecking order fighting. How long have the hens been together?

    In my opinion, putting them in a box together will guarantee a blood bath.
     
  3. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi

    Thanks for your reply.

    Yes I am well aware of the difference between bullying and establishing a pecking order. The silkies are being bullied(not really badly though) by most of the other hens, but I have given them a safe haven and the chance to come out when they feel safe/confident to do so and one of them is already showing signs of integrating.

    It's the leg bar hens trying to establish their pecking order that is really concerning me. Do I let them battle it out and if so, for how long? I don't want either of them to get seriously injured and it doesn't seem right to let them fight like that. One is much bigger then the other but that doesn't seem to worry the smaller one.

    The dark box suggestion just occurred to me as an option as these 5 new hens were delivered to me in a cardboard box from the auction mart. The silkies and the leg bars had not previously met but were all packed in the box together and basically roosted in there until I got them and let them loose in the cage, the next day. They all got on fine even though the caged area was a bit small for them.

    Now the silkies are out of the cage it's not so bad space wise, but I really want to integrate the new leg bars with the other flock, which are free range at the moment and ideally keep all 3 leg bar hens with the cockerel in a hen ark and run, together, once things settle down and I get the ark finished. It's just that the original leg bar hen and one of the new ones can't sort their pecking order out without a major fight and I don't know how far to let that go.

    I've had the new hens in the caged area of the hen house for a week. I tried two days ago to let them out, but the fighting was too bad, so I put them back in.

    Thanks

    Barbara
     
  4. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    If they are not drawing blood I would just let them be. Just wait and see what happens. Every time you separate them both hens think she won the fight. So it all starts over again each time you put them together to try one more time.
     
  5. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi

    Unfortunately they are drawing blood! Combs are getting pecked and twisted.

    The other new leg bar has also been squaring up with the same original legbar hen and one of the hybrids as well through the mesh and drawing blood too.
    I've had a bit of a trying day with them all today, as the cockerel in the cage, Horace, got out whilst I was trying to integrate the hens and there was mayhem as the two lads started fighting as well. Poor Horace was more than happy to go back in the cage when I eventually got Harry off him. Must get the ark finished and I think Horace and his two girls (the trio of exchequer leghorns) will have to go in there as they at least, all get on.

    I still need the leg bar hens integrated into the main flock with the other leg bar and hybrids though, so any advice welcome.
     
  6. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    Wow! They are giving you a hard time! Poor girls. All I can say is all of my mean girls wear hen peepers. Peeperes block their range of vision. They can still see to eat drink and do other normal chicken duties. They just can't see straight ahead. Peepers may just be a good investment for you.
     
  7. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The way I do it is I just throw the new hens in with the old and call it a done deal. Yeah they may fight viciously for a bit, each one of them taking turns squawking, flapping and dragging each other around by the comb but usually in about an hour they are all walking around scratching together like they've been best buddies all their life.
    Chickens are going to behave like the animals they are, not behave like you want them to.
     
  8. BugGuy

    BugGuy Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:Yep!! When we took the runs off the separate coops and let all the chickens go in the yard it was a battle royal for about 3 hours. I was very glad the roosters were about as when a couple of hens got into a tussle the roosters would run right over and bust it up. They might square off on each other for a bit, but then had to run off and bust up another squabble somewhere else in the yard. About ran their tail feathers off. However, everything calmed down after a bit. No injuries or damage done except a few random feathers. Now if I was to introduce a single hen, not on your life would I just throw her in and hope for the best.
     
  9. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok Guys, thanks for the info. Basically I need to tough up, open the cage and get them all out at once with the others and accept that there will be carnage until the pecking order is established. Would you also let the cockerel out, as Horace (who is mean to me by the way) keeps taking a real beating from Harry and ends up hiding in a corner somewhere, too frightened to move, or should I keep him in the cage until the ark is finished and one of them is then removed from the hen house?

    I just hope someone doesn't report me to the authorities for cruelty as my yard is in the centre of the village and it is unlikely that people won't see or hear the carnage. Is it best to confine them to the hen house(stable) whilst they sort it out or give them the yard as well so that they have more room to get out of each others way?

    Many thanks for the advice. I really appreciate it.

    Barbara
     
  10. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Enola thanks for the tip about peepers although I'm not sure which hens I would put them on at the moment as there seem to be new contenders stepping forward every day. I will look into them if things don't settle down. Does anyone know if they are available here in the UK and are they suitable for free range, as I would guess that my girls need to keep an eye out for foxes and even my horses, since they share the same yard, so that they don't get stood on.

    I obviously need to do some research on peepers.

    Cheers

    Barbara
     

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