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We have a bully- I think?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Hijumper, Sep 8, 2016.

  1. Hijumper

    Hijumper Hatching

    Sep 8, 2016
    Charlotte, NC
    We just bought 5 new laying hen chicks from the local feed store and brought them home 2 days ago. There are 2x Rhode island reds which are about 3-4weeks old, 1x "production red" which is a cross between a rhode island red and something else which is about 3-4wks old and 2 others (breed unknown) which are about 3wks old. They were all in separate coops at the feed store.

    The problem started yesterday when one of the Rhode island reds started acting very aggressively towards the other chickens. She literally chases them around the coop and pecks at them- often pulling out feathers which she then occasionally swallows. She does it to all of the chickens and it is relentless and I really think one or more of the other girls are going to get hurt. I have heard about pecking order but this seems a bit extreme.

    I isolated the problem bird in a large cardboard box with the chicken wire coop wall dividing them. They can see each other,

    I tried to reintroduce her to the rest of the flock again today and the behaviour returned quickly so I put her back in her isolation box.

    Am I doing the right thing keeping them apart? Should they be able to see each other or do they need to be completely isolated and out of sight? Any help or advise would be great.

    Chicken Newbie

  2. redsoxs

    redsoxs Crowing

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    Yes, I'd keep them apart as along as the one is being aggressive. And I would let them have visual access. When I intro new birds it's through a chain link fence so they can see, hear, and even peck at each other but can't hurt each other. Here's a great article from the Learning Center about introducing new birds https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock
    Good luck to you!
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    A bird that exteme at this young age---I'd look into returning her for another chick. Why start out with a problem animal? These birds are going to have to live together in confinement for years. If she can't play well with others at this point, it's really not likely to get any better with time.

    That said---space can be an issue with pecking. How much room do they have? Are you using a brooder, or are they in the coop? At this age, it would be best to have 2 square feet per bird, so 10 altogether. Overcrowding can cause behavioral issues.

    So can boredom. Chicks raised with a hen are out and about, scratching, finding food, interacting with the flock, learning about avoiding predators, etc. Chicks in a brooder are...well....in a brooder. They need something to do, or like all littles, they find things to amuse themselves that aren't the best. Try providing veggies or other treats to pick at---things like apple, leafy greens, etc. Thing they have to peck apart and work on for a while to eat. Scatter grit on the floor of the brooder along with a little scratch. they'll spend time scratching through the bedding to find the food---this is a very natural thing we don't allow a lot of chicks to do. Just be sure you elevate the waterer, or they'll bury it in bedding from all the scratching [​IMG]
  4. Red birds are known to be aggressive...I had some and sold them all...Way too much stress for me and my other hens...

    Sorry, you may want to rethink your breeds?
    Separating her will not really change things too much....
  5. Hijumper

    Hijumper Hatching

    Sep 8, 2016
    Charlotte, NC
    They are in a temporary coop in my garage that's 5x8 ft so they have plenty of room.

    The feed store won't take it back because she has been exposed to my property where I have other chickens.

    I'll look into giving them something to peck at so they aren't so bored and try reintroducing her after a few days and see what happens. If that doesn't work I may have to consider other options.
  6. Best of luck....Sorry things are going so wrong with aggression...Lots of more docile egg layers you might want once you decide on making changes...

  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I get the store not taking her back, some will and some won't.

    Keep in mind, it's perfectly okay for you to sell that bird if you need to. You're not obliged to keep her for the rest of her natural born life just cause you purchased her as a chick. If she doesn't work for you, she may work just fine for someone else.

  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    You have other chickens... Perhaps you could do an early integration of her into your adult flock. They just might give her some lessons in proper chicken behavior.
  9. SueT

    SueT Crowing

    May 27, 2015
    SW MO
    X2 yes!
  10. bucky52

    bucky52 Songster

    Apr 26, 2011
    I do have a bully.She is a 4 year old hen.She started attacking one of my younger hens.They have been in the same run for 15 months.At first I thought I it was just a pecking order thing going on..Until my younger hen would hide.When we had them out in their yard for free ranging.My younger hen would stay to her self.and run in fear when that hen would come with in 5 feet of her.My older hen would sneak up on her and jump on her back and started attacking her.I have a big run and I am able to close each section off.That's what I did.The older hens Have their own area.My 4 younger hens have their area.Each of them have their own coop.And multiple runs.My younger hens is so much more relaxed. She was never a regular layer.now she lays a couple times a week.I am sorry I had not done this months ago.

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