What to do with a dominant, feather-pecking, bossy hen?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Eglantine, Jun 4, 2010.

  1. Eglantine

    Eglantine Hatching

    Jun 4, 2010
    Hi everyone,
    I'd like some advice on how to handle a very bossy, almost mean chicken. I have seven hens, no rooster. They are all a year old. They have a huge hen house and an even larger yard (about 30' x 75') so overcrowding is not the issue. My bossy hen is an Australorp, one of two of that breed. And for all I know it may be a breed trait to be dominant. But she picks on one hen until her head or neck feathers are extracted, and then seems to start on another. So far not much blood and all feathers have eventually grown back. I was wondering if I removed her from the flock would someone else just take her place in the pecking order and do the same thing? These are my first hens and I am really enjoying them, they lay all the time (even through winter) and just hate to see one of them making the others' lives miserable. (Or maybe that is just my human conception of the situation!)
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    My BA is my lead hen too, but she is very fair to everyone, and really doesn't make herself known unless someone is causing problems. I guess any breed can have a bully. Most recommend putting the bully in a dog crate for a few days (w/food/water of course). There will always be a lead hen, so someone will take her place. In theory, when the bully is released, she will be lower on the pecking order. Depending on how headstrong she it, she may or may not fight her way back to the top.

    Anytime I hear about feather picking, I also think of protein deficiencies. Try feeding her some extra protein...BOSS, salmon, a little cat food...while she's confined, or try it before trying confinement and see if it makes a difference. Good luck!! [​IMG]
  3. Brindlebtch

    Brindlebtch Songster

    Apr 15, 2009
    clip-on peepers
  4. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    What Brindle said or isolate the bossy one in chickie jail for about a week, without access to the rest of the flock at all.
    It'll accomplish two things. One, you'll be able to see if the next in line hen is going to be as much of a bully when in charge. Two, it'll knock Miss Bossy down on the pecking order.
  5. math ace

    math ace Crowing

    Dec 17, 2009
    Jacksonville, FL
    How long have the hens been together ? ? ?

    Has anything changed that might of stresses them to the point of one acting out?

    I didn't have any luck with the isolation thing. The group dynamics can change with the addition of new chickens. I had one that was at the bottom of the pile until a new hen joined the flock. The new one looked out for the bottom hen and doing so moved the hen's pecking order up to near the top. The picked on one became the picker [​IMG]

    I have no problems removing a hen from the social collective and giving her away. If somebody can not play nice at my house - - - then they can find a new home to play in [​IMG] Hopefully that new place will have chickens that are more assertive and will put my trouble maker in her place. [​IMG]
  6. pineapple50

    pineapple50 Hatching

    Apr 17, 2016
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    Your run is a nice size. What are the dimensions of your coop? I agree that protein might be the issue. But, I'd avoid BOSS. It is high in fat, and not very high in protein. Fat hens are hens who have a laying problem, eventually. It's harder for them to push that egg down the duct through all that visceral fat. Do they have plenty to do in their run? Multi level areas, perhaps a bale of hay. Some out of sight areas? If it's just a big rectangular run with out any visual barriers, that can lead to issues. A pile of leaves to scuffle around in, lots of greens to eat, a deep litter compost to rummage through for insects and other goodies will also keep them entertained as well as give them increased nutrition.
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Old thread alert ;)
  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
  10. MyCrazyChicken

    MyCrazyChicken In the Brooder

    Jun 8, 2017
    hi! I have a hen that has chicks that are about 6 weeks old, and she just sort of left them. Pecking at them, chasing them, ect. Why?

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