Time out - how long, and should the offender be completely isolated or still able to see the other g

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Kalimani, Dec 3, 2016.

  1. Kalimani

    Kalimani Out Of The Brooder

    38
    2
    24
    Apr 15, 2015
    Hi All,

    The title covers my question, but maybe a bit of background will help paint the picture.

    My young cockerel (1 year old) started attacking my older Australorp, to the point of creating a great big hole at the back of her neck. I initially thought this was overamorous behaviour, but now I am wondering whether it was a struggle of the pecking order. I was not around when all of this happened, so am not sure what the actual reason was. When I got back, it seemed that he had developed a taste for doing this to her, so he has been rehomed. (She has recovered and is back at the top of the pecking order).
    His favourite girl, Twiggy, has now become a real bully, emulating the cockerel's behaviour, including attempting to mount one of the other girls.l also introduced a new girl from a friend who was being eaten by another cockerel recently, probably not a good idea, but I felt very sorry for her.
    Twiggy also does really ugly 'sniper' attacks on the new girl, seemingly without provocation. She has not drawn blood yet, but feathers, newly grown, are being ripped out. I put some bad tasting liquid on her neck to try and discourage Twiggy's harrassment. But the new girl is traumatised (she did have a week's worth of getting-to-know-you before I let her out)

    Twiggy was always the underdog. She is now the biggest bully towards the new one, as well as to my tame guinea hen.
    I have put her into time-out, which consists of a wooden rabbit house and a small run, all in all about 2x1m.
    It is in the chicken run. So she sees all the other birds until I let them out to free range, and she sees them in the evening before bedtime. I give her something special every day (greens, bugs etc) to keep her entertained, but she seems very anxious. I hate to see her like this, but am fairly sure that if i let her out now, she will revert to her bad ways.
    But I am not a chicken expert, hence my posting here for advice.
    Short version:
    Should her time out setup be completely away from the other chickens? So they don't see each other?
    How long is long enough for time out? (She's had 4 days now, last time the 2 day timeout did not work)
    Has she been 'spoiled' by the cockerel, never to be a sweet chicken again?
    Is the timout setup too small?
    And, finally, the person who took her boyfriend might be willing to take her too, is that the most humane way forward?
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

    16,609
    4,259
    456
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Some more information about your set up is needed. There's a reason your birds are being aggressive. The main reason is usually confinement and not enough room and things to do. I keep more than 80 chickens and none peck each other like that. Pecking order pecking isn't brutal or blood drawing, it's usually just a reminder type of peck.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    33,699
    6,823
    576
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    It's not unusual for the low existing bird to attack a new bird...pecking order....I think they rejoice in having someone 'under' them to torment for a change.
    Also sounds like you added a single bird....the hardest integration to do.
    A week of 'getting to know you' (I assume in an adjacent cage?) is not really very long.

    Does the new bird get along with the rest of the flock?
    You'll still need to re-integrate Twiggy after her time out, that could good.....or badly. You'll have to do some chicken juggling, mixing and matching who is in what enclosure until they all get along.

    Knowing how many birds total you have, existing and new, and their ages might help decipher the situation.
    How big is your coop and run...in feet by feet?
    Pics of your set up would help too.
    Do you free range at all? That can help a lot.

    The more space, the better. Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide 'out of line of sight'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best of mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2016
  4. Kalimani

    Kalimani Out Of The Brooder

    38
    2
    24
    Apr 15, 2015
    Ok, sounds like I failed in terms of the short week getting to know you. I.m sorry, but I am not familiar with feet and inches, i am from a metric country. Seems that 3 feet make about a meter. So one meter =3 feet.
    I did only add one bird, right at the time that i also separated the cockerel. She was in an afjacent cage for a week.
    New bird gets along with the other girls, mostly, last night was her first time on the top rung with Alpha female. She is best friends with the guinea hen and lowest ranked girl.
    It seems that I (and the other gi ls) will have more peace without Twiggy. The person who took Kokkkie, my cockerel, has agreed to take her
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    33,699
    6,823
    576
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I can read metrics.
     
  6. Kalimani

    Kalimani Out Of The Brooder

    38
    2
    24
    Apr 15, 2015
    Sorry, forgot to add details. Coop is about 3x3m (9x9 foot?) but open to a run about 6 by 4m. But they free range all day when there are people around (raptors)
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    33,699
    6,823
    576
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Yep..closer to 10 x 10 feet.
    How many birds?
    Is run covered with mesh or roof to protect from raptors?
    They still need to get along when roosting at night or if weather is bad.....so coop size matters.
     
  8. Kalimani

    Kalimani Out Of The Brooder

    38
    2
    24
    Apr 15, 2015
    Hi, yes, the coop and run are covered. There are 4 chickens and one guinea hen. The guinea does not sleep with them (her choice), but on the highest perch inside the run.
    I am quite convinced that Twiggy's temperament has changed since her time with the cockerel.
    I don't usually give up easily, but in this instance I think I will take the easy way out and take her to the place that took the cockerel to ease everyone's stress levels.

    Having said that, I will be getting 3 (one month old) pullets to add to my tiny flock soon. We are modifying the run to keep them separate for however long is required.
    How long would you suggest?
    Thank you for your input, I really appreciate and value your advice. I am sure there will be many more questions from my side as things progress, and I am learning a lot from each event.
    I can post some pics of the current setup if you would still like to see it.
     
  9. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

    28,505
    14,232
    616
    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Nothing wrong with taking the easy way out IMO.

    These links on integration may help you to devise a strategy that suits your set up.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1126547/topic-of-the-week-integrating-chicks-into-an-adult-flock

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1069595/introducing-chicks-to-adults#post_16276224

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/introducing-new-chickens-using-the-see-but-don-t-touch-method


    I'd suggest keeping them separate (but so they can see each other) until the chicks are 8-10 weeks old before letting them mingle. Free range time will likely be less stressful for the initial introductions, but make sure that you have multiple feed stations available. Having multiple feed stations in the run, as well as places of refuge for the chicks to escape unwanted attention from the adults will also help reduce tension.

    Posting pics always helps other members to provide advice, so feel free.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2016
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    33,699
    6,823
    576
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Agrees with Ken......nothing wrong with getting rid of a troublesome bird.
    I would love to see your set up.
    Best setup IMO is to have the coop, and run if possible, split with a wire wall for new birds to spend some time in without being physically available to the older birds.
    Even better is to have tiny doors in that dividing wall that the chicks can get thru but the bigger birds cannot.
    I'd leave them separated for a couple weeks then open the tiny doors and let the chicks wander into main coop when the older birds are confined out in the run. Make sure chicks can go back and forth thru the doors, then let the big birds back into the coop.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by