We finally got our first chickens. Pecking order

L66wlt

In the Brooder
Apr 27, 2020
30
76
46
West Lothian - Scotland.
So after a couple of years of consideration we finally decided to go for it. Built our coop ourselves and bought 5 POL's (mix or breeds). Due to it being fairly late at night I just put them in the coop for the night with food and water. The next morning they got into the run to explore. They are fairly skittish around us and only come near if you have food. Picking them up and stroking is a no no unless they really have nowhere to go.
In the afternoon of day one I got another 2 birds as the seller was sold out of two types. They are younger smaller birds and you could see they were unsure of the bigger girls and being pretty submissive. The original 5 would give them little pecks and standing over them. I expected this and it seemed pretty tame so I was fairly happy. The 2 small birds are more friendly and will let you pick them up no problem. One even sits on your shoulder. If you go in the run they stick to you like glue. I'm assuming they see me as a source of security from the other girls. That night the big 5 walked in to the coop and onto the roost themselves, leaving the small newcomers out in the run. I popped them in but they wanted out so I repeated and put them on the roost bars, locked up and left them to it.
This morning when I opened up the bigger 5 darted out but i found the small 2 hiding in the same nest box and wouldn't come out. I picked them up and placed them at the pop door, the big 5 stopped what they were doing and all watched them, even walked up the ramp and the 2 ran back to the nest box. Our copper black stood at the pop door and watched. I picked the small 2 up and put them in the run. Every hen had their peck at them and chased them from food and water. Now they just sit nestled into one of the corners under the coop. They show now blood spots or damage and I hope this passes after a day or two but is there anything I can do to help them or make it pass quicker?
 

rosemarythyme

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If no one is getting injured that's a great thing. Since the older birds are close to laying and the younger ones aren't, it's a matter of age and hormones that's making them pick on the younger ones. Pecking order isn't likely to be all that set since all the birds are on the younger side and all are newly arrived at your home.

Photos of your set up will help with suggestions. Any clutter to help these younger birds hide? It sounds like you only have 1 feeder and waterer?

For now, give this thread a read: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/a-cluttered-run.1323792/ and as for the feed, I'd put out multiple sources of each, spread out as much as possible, just so the younger birds get a chance to eat. Small bowls or dishes work fine.
 

L66wlt

In the Brooder
Apr 27, 2020
30
76
46
West Lothian - Scotland.
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as you can see its still a little unfinished. I'm building a roof over the run and will be extending the run to incorporate the acer tree. Juat hard to get wood right now as Scotland is still under tight lockdown restrictions with covid-19.I will extend the water feeder right under the coop to allow more water nipples. I have a 4 inch pvc pipe feeder at the left of the door frame but it is only one hole for feeding. I will make another ASAP! The red feeder is for grit.
I just went to check again and the 2 small ones aren't even being allowed to come out from under the coop now. Anytime one tries it's chased by our copper black.
On a plus side we have had 4 eggs already! And that was on day one. Two girls have used the nest boxes but two eggs were found under the roost bars.
 

BDutch

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5 Years
May 19, 2015
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Can you give the chicks a safe place in the run apart from the chickens where they can sleep, eat and drink? Something like a rabbit hutch, breeding pen or a large box / crate with an opening where the chicks can go through but the young pullets can’t.

They wil come out from time to time to explore. But it is important they have a place whre they feel secure. Too much stress is not good.

And a compliment for this great coop you build. 👍 The run is quit small though. Hope that they can free range too after grown up.
 

L66wlt

In the Brooder
Apr 27, 2020
30
76
46
West Lothian - Scotland.
I don't have a segregated area as I wasn't expecting to have this issue of buying birds at separate times. I could knock up a small hutch from the left over wood.
Will segregation not just delay the bullying?
 

L66wlt

In the Brooder
Apr 27, 2020
30
76
46
West Lothian - Scotland.
P.s. A bigger run with hiding places helps against stress and problems with pecking too.
I now plan to extend the run by at least another 2.5meters. Including unter the coop it's nearly 4 meters x 1.8meters right now. I should have taken more time to build it bigger initially but the wife and kids were desperate for chickens and I thought the current size was ample but looking at it now it's just too small 🤦‍♂️
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
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I understand you're restricted with what you can do as far as expanding, but while coop looks good yes the run is too small for number of birds (especially during integration), so the older ones are going to protect what space and resources they have.

I'd get the run expanded out as soon as reasonable, and use the leftover scraps to cobble together some obstacles as shown in the link I posted earlier. You can also use some small yard items like a patio chair, empty flower pot, for clutter.

As far as food guarding, in the mornings I have 3-4 cat food dishes of food plus a feeder out (that's for 7 hens). Since you have less space you don't need to add quite so many, but it really helps to have at least 2 sources of food especially first thing in the morning.

If the younger birds are mostly staying inside, you could put a food bowl and water inside for the time being if that helps, once the older birds go out.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
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Ok I didn't realize they could access the space under the coop, that actually can help with this. You could possibly put a temporary fence across there (chicken wire would even be fine) and keep the younger birds in there during the day, with their own food and water, just so they have a place they feel safe but where both sides can see each other.

Also extending out another 2.5m will definitely help open up more space to add clutter so they can feel a little safer when they are ready to enter the run with the others.
 

MANNA-PRO

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