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What am I doing wrong?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by TheSpiceGirls, Nov 7, 2012.

  1. TheSpiceGirls

    TheSpiceGirls Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 6, 2010
    Bay Area, CA
    I've got bullies. One after another. I just don't understand. I only have a few hens, currently I have three adults and three 14 week olds that one of the adults raised.

    I had a bully about a month ago who was so bad, I had her put down. I thought I finally had peace and harmony but now one has gone broody and another one is just beating the $#@%$ out of her. This morning, I lifted the broody off the nest and set her down and the bully jumped onto her and was clawing and pecking at her and ripping out beaks full of feathers.

    I'm ready to give up. I thought having a few hens in my backyard would be fun. Everyone else seemed to be doing it. I've tried the isolation thing. (That doesn't work so well when you only have a few hens.) I tried the peepers. I've trimmed beaks. I mean I've tried it all. I just don't get it. It has to be something I'm doing wrong to cause this. But what???

    And they are Buff Orpingtons. I thought they were supposed to be sweet.

    If you have advice, I'd love to hear it. I'm really at my wits end. The bully is in a pen but can still see the other hens. Do I put a peeper on her and put her back? Do I isolate the broody? I guess I could try and break the broody. I just don't know what to do.

    If the one getting bullied wasn't the sweetest thing in the whole wide world, I'd turn a blind eye and let them just kill each other. Or maybe that's the easiest solution. Course, what do I do then when I'm down to one. Give her away?

    I've invested a lot of blood, sweat and tears and $$'s to make this work. I'd like to make it work. But I'm really frustrated.
  2. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    If it's just the one bird doing the pecking at this point pull that one out and keep her out for a while. Chicken jail for that one for a week or more, see how the rest do. I would leave the broody in the pen.

    How much space do they have?
  3. TheSpiceGirls

    TheSpiceGirls Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 6, 2010
    Bay Area, CA

    The three adults and three babies live in a 20' by 14' run. They have areas to dust bath, TONS of perches, two feeders and two waterers and two hen houses inside the run.

    Yes, it's just this one bird wailing on the broody.

    The pepper really made this hen mad. She went after anything that crossed her path but couldn't see them to peck. She COULD find the broody in the nest but only tapped at her. I can deal with normal pecking order stuff. It's the vicious feather pulling, blood letting and using their feet to claw that is just too excessive.

    It's tough for me to isolate a hen. I guess I can now that weather is turning cold. I can move her into the garage. But she'd be in a dog crate. Not very big.

    My JG is my alpha and she usually stays out of the fray but she went after the bully after the bully went after a baby. I just caught the tail end of that fight so I'm not sure how it started. I'll give this a try. But these are my last chickens for sure!
  4. Chickadee95

    Chickadee95 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 2, 2012
    I'm sorry you're having such a stressful experience with them!
    I'm no expert AT ALL, I'm a newbie, but it was my understanding that once chickens saw blood or something red they went for it. Isn't there a blue powder you can buy to put on any wounds? I heard about something like that for chicks...

    Also in my experience, when one of mine was being a bully to the three others (Not as bad as yours though) i coincidentally we brought them all to the fair soon after where they were in separate cages away from each other. A week later, back in their own coop, they were all completely fine!
    I think it was because they all reunited with an equal status on the pecking order.

    I've found chickens to be really relaxing and enjoyable to watch! When something goes wrong it is really upsetting, though. They're our babies!
    Good luck with yours!
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I'm sorry, I have no ideas except adding a rooster and you probably don't live in a rooster friendly area. I'm so sorry you're having such a hard time, orps are usually very docile. If you don't have fertile eggs, I'd try to break the broody.

    I just have to say your "bad hen" on the peepers made me literally laugh out loud and bring my kids over to see it! Now, if there was something similar for 13 year old boys.............
    1 person likes this.
  6. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Honestly if it were me, I'd just outright sell or give away to the feed store the bully in the flock, keeping your nice ones. I have gotten rid of aggressive hens before that wouldn't let my other chickens eat. It isn't worth it. I have zero tolerance now for that nastiness.

    My Buff Orpingtons are a little bit bossy too. I have 25 of them. and if I sit down in a lawn chair they come over and I feel like I am being hammered with them trying to remove buttons off my side cargo pockets and just in general they are in my face. They like me, don't get me wrong, but they are "clingy." They are my husband's favorite chicken, otherwise I'd sell them. My precious bantams are so sweet I just adore them.

    I have tried so many different breeds and BOs are not my favorite anymore. I have tried breaking a BO broody before and it didn't work with the 48 hours in the cage w/food and water thing.

    There are other breeds that are just what you are looking for, whatever it is. If you like to have chickens then find the right breed. But it sounds like your coop is mostly full. It might help to get rid of the troublemakers, one at a time.

    If you are tired I understand - I took a couple of breaks from chickens too. It really helps!
  7. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    Gosh, they have plenty of space so it's sure not a crowding issue. I do think if this bird is drawing blood I'd take her out and keep her out for a while. If she goes back and starts up again you may have to get rid of her. Sometimes once they get into the habit of pecking to this degree it's hard to break them of it. And heaven forbid she get any more of them going. Once you get a whole flock pecking and drawing blood.... very tough to fix, if at all.

    Try not to give up on chickens though I know this has got to be terribly frustrating! I've had chickens for years and I've never had a problem like this. If you can solve the issue with this one trouble maker and the others are doing fine you'll probably be in the clear.
    1 person likes this.
  8. TheSpiceGirls

    TheSpiceGirls Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 6, 2010
    Bay Area, CA
    Thanks All. Just having someone listen and comment really helps. I feel so alone in this!

    I'd LOVE to add a rooster but they are not allowed where I live. And now that I'm thinking about this more, I'm thinking they are learning this behavior from one another. And I know who it started with. I should have given that bird away a long time ago. But I thought I could reform her. Now I'm sort of stuck. I did think about giving them all away and starting over. But I do love their individual personalities. And they live quite well where they live. To give them away and put them at the bottom of the pecking order, well, that just seems like it would punish them for nothing.

    Well, except for my bully. She has some pecking coming her way. The hen w/ the peeper was as mad as a wet hen when I put it on her last night. This morning she seems to have resigned to the new normal. I pulled the broody off the nest and the bully never once came near her.

    I'll probably try and break the broody and see if I can get things back to normal.

    BO's used to be my favorite but not anymore. Never thought I'd hear myself say that.
  9. SqueakyRoseShalom

    SqueakyRoseShalom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2011
    I have one hen who becomes a bully ONLY WHEN there is a broody hen to pick on! I guess broodies are vunerable- not sure why, whether it's a hormonal thing that others can sense, or just because all they want to do is sit around, but they are definitely targets for bullies! That's why it's always recommended to isolate a broody. But if she's not going to hatch chicks for you then definitely try to break her. I hear the best way, in your case, would be to prop up the dog cage that you have, like on blocks, on its side so that the smaller openings of the cage are on the bottom. Her feet should not fall through the openings. The idea is that she can't get warm under her body when she's sitting. This should do the trick for the broody, and hopefully for the bully! Did I describe this well enough?
  10. TheSpiceGirls

    TheSpiceGirls Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 6, 2010
    Bay Area, CA
    Yes, I've read that's how you break a broody. I just need to rig up the dog crate because now the openings are too big and her feet would slip through. And I'm just super busy right now. So I'll get to this over the weekend. I think that will be best for all.

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