Sudden bully!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by PaigeK, Nov 28, 2017.

  1. PaigeK

    PaigeK New Egg

    Nov 28, 2017
    Hi there!

    I have had my 6 hens for almost 3 months and they had all been getting along well. I put in a heat lamp a week ago as it's getting cold and their water was freezing. I noticed some blood in the coop the next day and one girl had some blood on her comb. I figured they had just pecked to get closer to the heat and thought nothing of it as it never happened again and was a very small amount.

    However, less than a week later I noticed that 5 of the girls are sleeping outside and the 6th girl (Gretchen) stays in the coop all day and night: they will not sleep up in the coop with her, but they do go upstairs to lay.

    2 of the girls downstairs chase Gretchen back up to the coop anytime she tries to come out. When I feed and water, Gretchen eats and drinks before being chased back up. I have been taking her out of the coop to ensure that she's getting enough food and water, but this has been going on for about a week now.

    I cannot see any signs of fleas/mites/runny eyes/etc. on Gretchen and she is eating and drinking when given the opportunity. She is not laying, but the other 5 are. She seems scared of the 2 downstairs girls, but the other 3 downstairs girls don't seem to care one way or the other, they leave her alone.

    Do you think Gretchen is ill or is this just a late development in the pecking order? Would an increased coop size help the situation?
    BYCforlife likes this.
  2. BYCforlife

    BYCforlife Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 18, 2017
    My hens that were at the bottom of the pecking order hid in the nesting boxes all day. I put a small shelter outside for them, so they could hide in there. It must have worked, because they slowly joined the other chickens.
  3. SueT

    SueT Overrun With Chickens

    May 27, 2015
    SW MO
    Welcome to BYC.....
    Poor Gretchen!! Are they all the same breed? Maybe you could make the bullies have some time out....
    BTW, you don't need heat for grown chickens. It's a fire hazard as well. What size is their coop, and where do you live? I use a heated pet bowl for water in the winter.
    Good luck with your flock, let us know how it goes.
    nminusyplusm and PaigeK like this.
  4. Chickassan

    Chickassan True BYC Addict

    May 23, 2017
    Berea, South Carolina
    Does your heat lamp put off any light at all? If it does the birds can see to peck each other at night, you might want to switch to a ceramic bulb like they sell for reptiles if you're going to have heat. The ceramic bulbs only put out warmth no light. :)
    PaigeK likes this.
  5. PaigeK

    PaigeK New Egg

    Nov 28, 2017
    Hi, thanks for your response!

    Yes, they are all red sex linked and I got them all at the same time. I live in Canada, so it gets to -25 or even -30 celcius and the water freezes solid. I put a lower wattage bulb hanging from the roof inside the coop. Before I put the heat, they were down to laying 1-3 eggs per day at the end of October but now they are back up to 5.

    Thank you!
    penny1960 likes this.
  6. PaigeK

    PaigeK New Egg

    Nov 28, 2017
    The heat bulb emits a red light. If the pecking starts again I will consider the ceramic. Thank you!
    penny1960 and BYCforlife like this.
  7. PaigeK

    PaigeK New Egg

    Nov 28, 2017
    Gretchen laid an egg today! Thanks everyone. She's been spending more time outside with the other girls too.
    SueT likes this.

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