What to do about Airhead? (lowest ranking hen)

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by gritsar, Jul 31, 2008.

  1. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Airhead aka Lil Bit. She is very obviously the lowest-ranking member of my flock. When the chickens were a bit younger she get picked on enough to loose some back feathers, but I applied pine tar and that has stopped. She is smaller than the rest, but not dramatically so; since the ones that pick on her haven't figured out how to keep her out of both feeders at once. When I'm outside with them she stays either in my lap or on the ground close to me. The others pretty much know she is off limits then and for the most part leave her alone. Even when I'm not outside with them if she gets harassed she runs and jumps on the back of my chair and gets left alone. When the rest of the chickens put themselves to bed at night she always dawdles around outside, as if she doesn't want to go in with them. Then we have to go thru this ritual whereby I put her in with the others, she jumps back out, and it goes on like that until I'm quick enough to get her in and close the door before she can jump back out.
    She CANNOT be a house chicken. So all I can do for her is to hand feed her an extra serving of feed and yogurt a day and offer her my protection when I'm with them.
    Any other suggestions? I thought about making a seperate place for her and the two flock mates that are next in line to her at the bottom of the pecking order; but I'm afraid those two would just start picking on her. Those two don't bother her much right now.
    Also, I noticed today that she has some sort of vision problem. She's not blind, but she has a hard time zeroing in on food. I held a raisin in the palm of my hand for her and she pecked all around it before she finally managed to connect her beak with the raisin.
  2. plfreitag

    plfreitag In the Brooder

    Jun 28, 2007
    wright city mo
    Harriet, my bottom-of-the-order SLW from last year, is in her glory. She now has 33 youngsters to beat up on. I'm letting her get her orneriness out. The older birds STILL mess with her on occasion, and she's still at the bottom of their ladder, but the borrom of that ladder is still higher than the highest chick.

    Funny thing is, even though she is the lowest in the pecking order, she gets more attention from Buddy than any of the other girls. Some, in fact, just look at him and walk away when he gets his dance on near them. You can almost see them smirking.

    Trisha in MO
  3. Farmer Kitty

    Farmer Kitty Flock Mistress

    Sep 18, 2007
    It sounds like during the day she knows how to deal with it. I'm wondering if you make her a special house within their run. Keep it closed so the others don't go in and keep her out and then once they have gone in for the night, open her house up for her. You could put extra food and treats in there for her if your concerned that she doesn't get enough to eat with the harrasment of the others.
  4. Jenski

    Jenski Songster

    Jun 17, 2008
    Middle Tennessee
    gritsar, I too have a "special chicken" who is completely batty and has vision problems ~ and who is at the very, very bottom of the pecking order. In fact, I now have Baby with one other little Orpington who is very gentle, and I had to send my other "normal" gal to a new home to avoid the hen drama of Baby flapping and running around the pen squeaking in terror. Baby is a complete goob, but she's sweet, affectionate and a great layer of lovely blue eggs. Her other hobbies include climbing into buckets, getting underfoot, and falling off things.

    What breed is your "special" girl? How old is she?

    Jen in TN
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2008
  5. Lunachick

    Lunachick Chicken Slave

    Mar 19, 2007
    Brick, NJ
    I have one of those too. It's been more than a few weeks and they still harrass her. I was wondering if anyone had any ideas too.

    How long has it been going on for your girl?
  6. Javamama

    Javamama Songster

    Jun 6, 2008
    Aww, Airhead sounds so sweet. I love these special chickens, they pull at my heartstrings. [​IMG] Maybe she would be happy with her own private area at night where she could feel safe. The things we do for them, huh? :aww
  7. Jenski

    Jenski Songster

    Jun 17, 2008
    Middle Tennessee
  8. scooter147

    scooter147 Songster

    Jul 30, 2008
    Your doing the right thing by having two feeders, as you mentioned the other hens generally can't keep her form both at the same time.

    My hens that are lowest in the pecking order are generally the last to go in and roost as well. I have two theories on this:

    1. They know if they go in and go to roost before or while the higher pecking order chickens are settling in they will just get harrassed. They lower hens always roost on the second board from the ground, never higher.

    2. This is when my lower hens really feed well. They fill up on food and water when the higher chickens have gone to roost.

    sounds like you are doing the right things, maybe give this lower girl a little supervised free range by herself.
  9. blueskylen

    blueskylen Songster

    Mar 3, 2008
    isn't it funny that the lowest on the chicken totem pole is always the highest on the owners totem pole? my lowly one always gets the best treats
  10. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Thanks for the support and advice y'all. I'm gonna keep on doing what I'm doing, plus I think once the others have moved to their permanent coop and run I will either make a special place for Airhead there, or keep her in the pen they all occupy now. I could let her free range with the rest of them during the day and keep her close to the house at night.
    Jenski, thanks for the link to that special story.
    Lunachick, these chickens were all hatched together, she's been at the very bottom since the beginning, and I guess unless something drastic happens to change my flock's order, she always will be. They are 16 weeks old.

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