Strangely aggresive behavior in flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Hummingbird Hollow, May 17, 2017.

  1. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a mixed flock of 7 hens and one rooster. 5 of the hens (3 Production Reds, 1 Easter Egger and 1 "Favaucana") were purchased as chicks in the spring of 2015. Two Wellsummer pullets and the rooster were added the summer of 2016. Until recently I'd say things were going pretty well. One of the reds was getting bald on her back and I fitted her with a chicken saddle, but everyone got along.
    3 days ago I noticed that one of the otherReds was spending all her free ranging time off by herself
    and was reluctant to go back into the pen. When I put her back in she was relentlessly chased by the rooster. Yesterday and today she escaped the pen and hid and when I put her back in she was chased not only by the rooster but by some of the hens as well. She'd crouch in the submissive posture but be pecked into running and then be chased all over my over-sized run. I scooped her up and put her in the garage in a dog crate.

    Any advice?
     
  2. wynn4578

    wynn4578 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Generally if there is plenty of room and there isn't too many roosters in the flock this isn't a problem. Boredom can also cause behavioral problems such as bullying. One thing you could try is removing the chicken that seems to start the bullying for a few days. I don't know how well it will work if the rooster is the cause but when you have a hen bullying another hen removing the bully for a few days does kind of a reset in the pecking order. Another thing you could try is taking her out of the flock and keep her separate for a week then reintroducing her by placing her back into the flock in a secure area where she can see the flock and they can see her but they aren't able to mingle for a few days. This lets everyone get re acquainted before putting her back in. Be aware that if she is at the bottom of the pecking order now she will definitely be at the bottom of the pecking order after removing her for a few days. So removing her unless she is getting injured should be an option used with caution as it could just make her bullying worse. Last thing I can think of would be to give the other chickens something better to do. Hanging apples from strings, a dust box, scratch thrown into straw in their coop are all things that might keep them busy and focused on other things instead of picking at her. Hopefully someone else can give you some other ideas.
     
  3. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    You have some good advice above. I may be inclined to remove the rooster first of all, and see if that works. The hens are likely to follow the rooster's behaviour towards the victim.

    It could be that she is sick (chickens notice symptoms way before we do) and they are trying to drive her from the flock, but it's almost impossible to say.
     
  4. Kyanite

    Kyanite Loving Life! Premium Member

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    I had something similar in my flock. The problem was the rooster. He has been eaten. The bullied hen is now behaving normally... well, except she's been pecked a bit because she keeps trying to go broody in the "best" nest box out of the 8 we have.
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Agreed with above poster. The hen in ? may have an underlying health issue that you have not noticed. Is she currently laying? Do an inspection of her to see if you can pick up any issues. If you don't know if she is laying, a vent check and inspection of her facial and leg coloring can give you an indication of her laying status/overall health. She may be going into an untimely molt. I have a hen with a persecution complex right now. The last time I had one like that, she started molting and after completing her molt, she got over her issues. It would make sense that if a hen is molting, she feels vulnerable, and that sense of vulnerability would make her a pecking order target.
     
  6. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks everyone for your advice. The run is large...maybe a total of at least 240 square feet for 8 chickens, plus they get about two hours of free range time every afternoon. The only thing that has changed recently (5 days ago) is that I've reintroduced the Favaucana back into the flock after she had been away brooding and raising some chicks. She is generally a mild, low dominance chicken, who has seemed afraid of the rooster in the past, but I was surprised to see her taking a role in the hazing of the red hen.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Are her chicks with her? That'll make 'em ferocious.
    How big is coop itself?
    Are there 'places to hide' in the run and coop?
     
  8. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Her chicks are not with her, she lost interest in them and started laying in her little
    broody house so I removed her back to the flock. The chick (single) is doing well with my 10-week-old pullet chicks.
    The coop itself is 4 feet by 8 feet.
    There are nooks and crannies in the run out of site from the main run. She actually found a little gap under a woodpile where water has created an escape route from the run and has used it to escape twice. She has also spent time hiding in the coop under the nest boxes during the day. I could probably create more hiding places if you think that would be helpful.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    4x8 is tight for 8 birds IMO.
    Even tho you have lots of run space, the coop is still a big part of flock harmony.
    If she's escaping the run, then you need more or better 'safe' places for her.
    Where are you going to put those (how many) chicks?
     
  10. wynn4578

    wynn4578 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    4x6 is what all my houses are except my main coop which is 8x10. My runs are all 200sqft and I move them every other week. I keep 2 Roos and 10 hens in 1 of them and everyone gets along great. I do rotate my chickens out to free range though. I think the most important part of a chicken house is nest box and roost room. There are 5 boxes in each of my houses and though they don't need it I have 32 feet of roost space. My chickens use about 10 feet of that space. It may help that I regularly give them something to do and I've noticed that hanging nipple waterers also keep them occupied. 2 feeders and 2 waterers per run separated by the chicken house so more docile chickens are always able to eat or drink as much as they want.
     

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