Should I say goodbye to a mean hen?

avocadoeggs

Chirping
6 Years
Jul 1, 2013
48
11
69
I have a small flock of six (max allowed in my neighborhood). Four older and then two we added as chicks last spring and integration went well, although they were clearly bottom of the pecking order, no problems all summer/winter. However, suddenly this spring one of my oldest hens is chasing/mounting the newest ones and pulling the feathers out of their necks. My question is, is there a point when I should just consider getting rid of the mean hen for the sake of the younger ones?
 

RUNuts

Smiling. I'm up to something.
May 19, 2017
6,380
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Swamps of Texas
Have you tried putting her in time out for a week? I've been told that will reset the pecking order and allow easier integration (sometimes).

Do a search. @aart and others have some input. There has been a lot of discussion on integration. But yes, at some point, it is easier to do subtraction for peace.

How did you integrate the new birds? That may also be an issue. How big is the coop and run? What breeds? Are the new birds laying? All things are variable.

Best wishes!
 

chuckachucka

Crowing
Mar 22, 2016
1,292
1,826
287
How old are the older and younger hens? I have a hen who was a major bully to everyone including a younger cockerel for more than a year until she reached two years old. Then all of a sudden she just accepted the younger ones as her flock and stopped chasing everyone. She is still top of the pecking order but there is no outright attacks anymore.
 

avocadoeggs

Chirping
6 Years
Jul 1, 2013
48
11
69
Have you tried putting her in time out for a week? I've been told that will reset the pecking order and allow easier integration (sometimes).

Do a search. @aart and others have some input. There has been a lot of discussion on integration. But yes, at some point, it is easier to do subtraction for peace.

How did you integrate the new birds? That may also be an issue. How big is the coop and run? What breeds? Are the new birds laying? All things are variable.

Best wishes!
The mean hen is a three year old Cinnamon Queen (RIR mix) and the younger ones (Australorp and Welsummer) are just turning one year. We spent many weeks integrating them slowly early last summer...next to the run, then in the run but separated, then together but with getaway spots, and although she was bossy to them then and refused to sleep next to them, she did get to the point where she just ignored them or only pecked if they got in her way of treats. We built the coop and run from scratch to make sure there is ample space for six big birds. They are all laying.

She is meanest to the Welsummer, which is surprising because the Welsummer is so feisty toward us and charges our big dogs! I am just bothered that these two young ones are missing so many feathers due to this now (and it’s not molting, as I have seen the feather plucking in action).

Maybe I will try a time out for her if it keeps up!
 

bobbi-j

Enabler
11 Years
Mar 15, 2010
15,888
33,197
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On the MN prairie.
You are the only one who can decide how much you're willing to put up with in your flock. At 3 years old, she's likely to be coming to the end of her laying cycle, and getting to the age where reproductive problems can begin. Try the time out and see if that works, then make a final decision once you see the results.
 

avocadoeggs

Chirping
6 Years
Jul 1, 2013
48
11
69
What is 'ample space' in feet by feet?
Pics, or coop and run, inside and out, would help.
I'd start with a weeklong time out (24/7) for the bully bird.
The coop is approx 24 sq feet and the run is approx 85 sq feet.
 

avocadoeggs

Chirping
6 Years
Jul 1, 2013
48
11
69
I would call that minimal space for 6 birds.
Crowding stress can be bad.
Spring hormone surges can make it worse.
What and how exactly are you feeding?
Well at 14 sq ft run space per bird we call that ample for city chickens.
 

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