Problems with the pecking order

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by supchicks, May 23, 2016.

  1. supchicks

    supchicks Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi all,

    Last weekend, one of my hens broke part of the top half of her beak off. I think she got it caught in the hardware cloth. As soon as I noticed, I isolated her in our "hospital" coop so the others wouldn't peck at her red, bleeding wound.

    She's mending up well, but now, whenever I try to reintroduce her to the flock, they all attack her. Pretty badly! They did a number on her comb and looked like they would have ripped part of it right off if I hadn't intervened.

    I could really use some advice! Do I just let them sort it out themselves? What if they kill her? She seems scared of them and runs away when they all get together, but if she so much as walks past them, they attack.

    I've tried letting them be close to each other, separated by the fencing, which is OK, but once they're all reunited, it starts back up again. Before she was hurt, they all got along just fine and never fought. I couldn't really tell the pecking order before because they were all so chummy.

    What do you suggest? Thanks!
     
  2. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    When you remove a bird from the flock, you change the pecking order. It takes about 1 week for a new pecking order to be established. Since the injured hen was not part of the reforming of the pecking order, she is now considered an 'outsider' by the flock. You'll have to go about reintegrating her back into the flock. She will need to spend at least a week living in a separate pen, next to the flock, before you can let them spend time together. They need to get used to each other again. And then she will have to earn back her position in the flock. In case you haven't noticed, chickens take their pecking order very seriously.
     
  3. supchicks

    supchicks Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the tip! When I finally let them mingle with each other again, is there a point when I should intervene? Or do I let them just go at each other until they figure it out, regardless of injury?
     
  4. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Only intervene if serious injury is occurring, chasing, pecking, and feather pulling don't count. A few obstacles in the run and an extra feeder or two will help sooth territorial stress.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Are all of them attacking her or are there 1-2-3 that don't seem as aggressive?
    You might try just introducing her to those less aggressive birds, maybe just 1 or 2 at a time.
    Not sure what kind of set up you have(size in feet of runs and coops), how many birds...but might be time for some mix and match chicken juggling.

    Maybe put 1 or 2 birds in the hospital coop with her, let them get reacquainted....or put her and 1 or others in the neutral territory of day pen rigged up with some fencing.
    Or when they meet in the run and a bird goes after her, grab that 'bad' bird(s) and remove it (them) to the hospital coop or another enclosure.
    Or some other variations of place and population...chicken juggling. Premise is to confuse and break up the 'territory'.

    Multiple feed/water and some obstacles, as suggested, is a great way help break up the status quo.
     

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