Retraining behavior of a mean chicken? Goodness me! Need opinions?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by thndrdancr, Dec 16, 2007.

  1. thndrdancr

    thndrdancr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok, I have two adult hens, that I would say up until about a month and half ago were inseperable.

    Fussy is the biggest, an EE (the trash chicken) and Red is a redxlink. Fussy totally adores Red, wont go anywhere without her, pines when they are not together, etc. BUT, she has also become darned MEAN. She wont let Red eat til she is done, she takes the choicest morsels, etc. This behavior has escalated lately, with the advent of the shorter days as well. Anyhow, I keep them in a box at night, and she has started attacking Red in the box. I found Red hiding with her head under the feeder yesterday, it was so sad. I think she has learned that when she acts like this, I usually take Red out, but then Fussy ends up getting out too. So being mean in the box = getting out. Red will look up at me desperately, like "get me out of here" and I cant hardly not comply, as she is being brutalized more and more.
    But its not ONLY in the box, when they are outside even she has gotten so territorial, etc. I just dont understand it, because if I let her out alone, she stands right by their box, peering in their window, and won't leave Red's side. This behavior seems to be escalating, but since its not "just" in the box, I am mystified as to how to stop it. Any ideas?
    How can you beat up your best friend on a regular basis?
    And for the record, Red is getting to where she doesnt care a fig for being around Fussy, can't say I blame her.
    So stumped here, gimme some ideas?
    Jill
     
  2. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    I'd give them separate sleeping quarters. I'd still let them be side by side and let them see each other, but not be able to get to each other.

    During the day what is happening? Is it mostly just posturing or do you think there is more serious aggression starting, where Red may get injured? Does Fussy just want to eat first, as the dominant hen, or does she not want Red to eat at all? You could try having multiple food and water bowls for them.

    How do they spend their time during the day?
     
  3. thndrdancr

    thndrdancr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am not quite sure what is going on. She doesnt seem to want Red to eat at all. When outside, if Red finds something interesting, Fussy runs over, pushes her aside and pecks at her til Red backs off.

    She is definitely dominant hen, I have two feed bowls now, and Fussy will run from one to other, trying to utilize BOTH of them. Its just nuts. She always has enough to eat, I try to make sure they always have food so not sure what the deal is, one would think she had starved in a former life. [​IMG] I had them since they were several days old, so I can't think there is trauma there.

    When freeranging, Fussy follows Red everywhere, doesnt want to get too far away, but yet exibits that "I am gonna eat whatever you find" behavior and will run her off! Red just kinda does her own thing. They are never too far apart tho, quite inseparable, so I am stupified. In the run, same thing. Grumpy Fussy, doesnt want anyone too close and will sometimes run her around, so its not a matter of space, which dh told me he thought it was. If she does it outside in the yard, I wouldnt think that was it.
    But why in the world do you run someone off, yet not want to be more than 10 feet away???

    Red DID used to be dominant, was larger growing up and was quite mean. I dunno, Fussy gettin even? She never was to the point where she wouldnt let Fussy eat tho. They always had their little heads together in the food bowl, well not anymore!

    It was never to the point of her hurting Red before, but Red always gives way. Its just when they are sleeping together, Red CANT get away. Separate sleeping quarters, I am thinking same thing but it will be a pain for sure. Might put Fussy in the pet carrier when she starts acting up, thats the only other thing I can do right now, so she doesnt get the idea beating Red up "gets her out time".

    This morning they are getting along beautifully. But this behavior is intensifying, so its worrying to me.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2007
  4. warren

    warren Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have exactly the same problem. Bella was the dominant hen. She is bigger than Daisy and used to push her out of the way to get the most treats. I used to push Bella back to give Daisy a chance as she eats slowly and in a more lady-like way. Lately Daisy has been horrible to Bella in just the way you describe. She also pulls out Bella's feathers and eats them and pecks her wattles and makes her make a high pitched trilling noise of pain. I have had to put a ring in her beak to stop almost all of the pecking, but Daisy still tries to hurt Bella...yet she follows Bella everywhere and does not like to be out of sight of her. I have made their bedding area into two compartments, which may help during the night. Hens with separate bedrooms! What is the world coming to?? Daisy is the best layer so I don't want to get rid of her. Bella would lay better if she was not terrified all the time.
     
  5. thndrdancr

    thndrdancr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That is so funny, Warren. EXACT same situation here. I used to push Red out of the way to let Fussy eat, because she would eat slowly and delicately (like u said, ladylike), and never got a chance to get much, becuz Red had DEVOURED everything by the time Fussy had had one morsel.

    Sounds like they are upset by that fact once they grow up!!! And she pecks Reds comb and wattles too. Poor Red has black spots all over her comb.
     
  6. rooster-red

    rooster-red Here comes the Rooster

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    Quote:I would try seperating them as suggested
     
  7. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    I've gone through this with Obelisk and Penny.
    Obelisk couldn't stand her when I first brought her home...she'd peck her so hard that you could hear the thump...so I stuffed Penny in the cat carrier with some food and water. Then I'd start having them both out at the same time...I also now have 2 water bowls and 2 food bowls. Obelisk will still try and eat/drink out of all 4 at once...
    I think a time out for grump couldn't hurt. I spent more time extricating Penny from under the couch and the chair than I wanted to think about. They get along alright now...but it took a danged long time...
     
  8. PDXChickGirl

    PDXChickGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had a similar problem. I had 4 chickens and they all got along really well. The dominant one turned out to be a rooster, and I couldn't keep him. Well, Bedelia started picking on Amelia (they are both Golden Wyandottes, and Amelia is slightly smaller). She kept going after her feathers and eating them.

    Some folks on this forum advised me to separate them. I put Bedelia in a dog carrier and kept her in the coop so she could still "be with the others" for a week. I would let her out in the morning to run around a bit and then put her back in the carrier. At night, I put her in the garage.

    Before I let her out of the carrier for the last time (hopefully for good), I put "Pick No More" lotion on the other two chickens. When Bedelia tried to go for a feather, she got a bad taste in her mouth.

    I also found that she's really jealous, so I now make sure I give her plenty of attention - always first and last. (if I don't she will terrorize the others). So far, things seem to be under control. I've had to re-apply Pick No More a couple of times, and that seems to work. Amelia's feathers are growing back, but I'm still watching them carefully - it's been 3 weeks so far. They don't get along like they used to, but they seem to have struck a balance.

    Good Luck!!
     
  9. warren

    warren Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Thndrdancr! I think that we upset the ballance of power by interfering with natures way. We naturally feel sorry for the one being disadvantaged and try to even things up. I have been telling Daisy off and pushing her about to try to even things up.
    I had not thought of giving her more attention in case she is jealous. I may try that if things get worse.
     

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