vicious bullying

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Steve3, Apr 4, 2016.

  1. Steve3

    Steve3 New Egg

    Apr 4, 2016
    Hello. I was wondering if anyone could help me.

    I have 6 chickens in a 5x3 foot coop and 14x7 foot run. Plus when we are home they have the whole of our large garden.

    I have:-
    2x Hyline browns
    1x Light Sussex
    1x Gold Laced Orpington
    1x Speckled Sussex
    1x Buff Sussex.
    They are all about 6 months old.

    I got the Hyline browns when they were 1 week old so that my kids could experience having chicks and the pure breeds I got as POL.

    The Hyline Browns were the first ones in the coop in about December. We then added the Light Sussex and Gold Laced Orpington (who were a bit older and bigger) in about February.
    All was good and they all got along perfectly without any pecking. Two weeks ago we decide to get two more chickens from the same breeder as the LS and LGO so we added the Speckled Sussex and Buff Sussex.

    We added them at night and for a day it all seemed ok. Then both the Hyline Browns started viciously attacking them. They would jump on their backs and pin them down with their talons and then bite their necks and back. This happened everytime the SS and BS came into the run. so for days they just stayed in the coop (unless the Hylines chased them out!) Even the LS and LGO would give them the occasional peck but nowhere near as brutal. This also happens when they are in the garden, so I don't think it's a space issue they seem to have a genuine hatred for them!

    I separated the Hylines in a run within a run and at night I made 2 nesting boxes into 1 and put them in there. I did this for about a week and then yesterday I decided to let them a share the run. Within seconds both Hylines went straight for the Speckled Sussex and pinned her down and started attacking her. Straight away I put them back in there own run.

    I asked the breeder for advice and he suggested spraying all the chickens with watered down vinegar so that they all smell the same and if that doesn't work get a rooster to keep them in line.

    I was thinking of removing the Hyline browns totally for a few weeks and the re introducing them to see if that helps.

    I'm a bit worried about just leaving them to it and letting nature take it's course because it really is quite brutal, it looks like a cock fight!

    Does anyone have any ideas?

    Thanks for your time.
  2. lindalouly

    lindalouly Grd Ctrl 2 Major Tom

    THat sounds like mating.....
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC!

    Integration woes.....adding at night often does not work, especially in the tight quarters you have for 6 birds.
    Existing birds are merely protecting their resources(space/food/water).
    Are you positive they are all females?
    Are they all the same age?

    Here's some notes I've taken on integration that I found to be very helpful.......
    ......take what applies or might help and ignore the rest.
    See if any of them, or the links provided at the bottom, might offer some tips that will assist you in your situation:

    Integration of new chickens into flock.

    Consider medical quarantine:
    BYC Medical Quarantine Article
    Poultry Biosecurity
    BYC 'medical quarantine' search

    It's about territory and resources(space/food/water). Existing birds will almost always attack new ones.
    Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact. Integrating new birds of equal size works best.

    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 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.

    Another option, if possible, is to put all birds in a new coop and run, this takes the territoriality issues away.

    For smaller chicks I used a large wire dog crate right in the coop for the smallers. I removed the crate door and put up a piece of wire fencing over the opening and bent up one corner just enough for the smallers to fit thru but the biggers could not. Feed and water inside the crate for the smallers. Make sure the smallers know how to get in and out of the crate opening before exposing them to the olders. this worked out great for me, by the time the crate was too small for the them to roost in there(about 3 weeks), they had pretty much integrated themselves to the olders. If you have too many smallers to fit in a crate you can partition off part of the coop with a wire wall and make the same openings for smallers escape.

    Best example ever of chick respite and doors by azygous

    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading:
  4. Steve3

    Steve3 New Egg

    Apr 4, 2016
    Thanks for the replies.
    They are all female (they all lay) and they are all the same age.

    I put them in the run this morning after a few days separation and spraying them all with vinegar, and the two bullies instantly attacked the 2 new hens.

    Do you think a few weeks complete (no contact) separation could work?

    Could the 2 bullies forget all about there hatred of the new hens?


  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Separation with they can see but not touch is the best method,
    then supervised merging with lots of space.....blahblahblah......lots of ideas in my previous posts and the links, check them out.

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