The lowest hen on the pecking order is getting badly beaten up

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Toetwo, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. Toetwo

    Toetwo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 6, 2012
    Hi,
    I am embarrassed. Always coming to BackYard Chickens for advise and help and so little to give in return.
    Sigh.
    Background:
    I have 6 hens, a rooster, all of which were mail ordered two years ago. One of them went broody last summer and we let her hatch 4 chicks, three of which were cockerels. The boys are no longer . . . here. Beatrice was the mutt who lived and has been with the flock. 2nd from the bottom rung of pecking order. The one on the bottom died about a month ago, we suspect by being tortured to death by the others. No blood but very unhappily dead.

    Our broody went broody again. We delivered her four chicks two nights ago. And now the hens are being AWFUL to Beatrice. Beatrice is also the rooster's favorite--her wings and back are bare of feathers. CooLots (2nd from bottom) is just pecking at Beatrice relentlessly. I am so worried that they'll kill her, too.

    Broody hen and babies are in nursery, which is separated from coop by a door. Should I open that door so Beatrice has somewhere to hide? Panda will protect the chicks, I have no doubt. Is this just pecking order?
    Should I order a saddle for Beatrice to protect her back?

    Too many details I suppose. But I am beside myself.

    Thanks !

    Toe
     
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    How much space do you have for your chickens? As in, what are the dimensions of your coop and run? Do they free range? Some of it probably is pecking order, but I'm wondering if you may have some crowding issues.
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I agree it sounds like you don't have enough space for your birds.
     
  4. Toetwo

    Toetwo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Um, the coop is 6 by 6 feet by 8 feet high. The nursery is 5 by 7 by 3 feet hight. They have two runs that around 8 by 4 feet, and we let them out of that to range about in a 400 by 400 foot area. If that's not enough space. . . .
    T
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I'm not sure if I followed your first post, but you have about 7 birds in a 6x6 coop and 8x4 run? Or two runs of that size? Either way, clearly not enough space, unless they free range exclusively. It's not just a matter of numbers, it's what your birds are telling you. Pecking and cannibalism, especially in an established flock, are pretty much always due to overcrowding. Your omega hen needs enough space to run away from the dominant birds, and places to hide from them. Things to break line of sight work well, as simple as a piece of plywood leaned against the run. But if you've already lost one bird, and have a second in jeopardy, your flock is telling you something's wrong the only way they can.

    Have you read Ridgerunner's article on space for your flock? It's the best write-up on the subject I've seen.....

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need
     
  6. maeve27

    maeve27 Out Of The Brooder

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    I recommend adding Bach Flower remedies to their drinking water. Try Beech and/or Vine and also use Rescue Remedy. I have yet to try these to for the pecking order situation but I tried another remedy on a poorly chicken and she was like a different hen the next day. Still address the space issue as well-I would separate the ones that are being bullied for their own sakes
    .
     
  7. Toetwo

    Toetwo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you! I have assumed given the size of coop that it was big enough. But having read the article, what stands out are your words "the flock is telling you something the only way they can." I'll free range them today and figure out the coop situation. The broody hen taking over half the coop space can't have helped.

    Thanks for opening my eyes!

    Very best

    Tory

    P.S. I have added a couple of picture of what I thought was a huge a roomy Chicken Paradise for feedback. After reading that article I am wondering about the inside of coop and if they can't move around comfortably.

    [​IMG]

    The below is main coop. To the lower right are two nesting boxes. (Down from having 6, as 4 of them are in the nursery.The ramp in this picture goes to the nursery. There is a door that has been open but is now closed for broody-chick privacy!

    [​IMG]

    The below is the "nursery" which usually is open for all to use but as of yesterday is closed off. It has four nesting boxes so there might be drama going on today as a result? Though their favorite nesting box is in main coop.


    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  8. maeve27

    maeve27 Out Of The Brooder

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    How many hens are there? It looks like plenty of room depending how many there are. Mind you, I am a novice :/
     
  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I wish that article was required reading for anyone purchasing chicks [​IMG]. He stated things so well, and it really opens folks' eyes that there's no hard and fast rule. You always need to listen to your flock.....things would be easier if they could just send us a text, wouldn't it [​IMG]
     

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