When does pecking order roughness stop and become something worse?

Carrie Lynn

Aug 30, 2010
S.E. Michigan
My RIR has been attacking my banty (former head of pecking order). Since the banty had been removed for being ill and beaten up, the RIR has been attacking her when I try to put them together. The banty first runs away and then submits and lays flat, the RIR attacks, I think it is more than trying to establish herself as top of the pecking order. I am beginning to think that now that she has successfully attacked her she won't let up...ever.
Yesterday, in a small run she went after her, when the banty laid down in submission the RIR got on top and took out a beak full of neck/back feathers before I could get the banty out.
Is it resonable to think she will always treat her like this, now that she knows she can? Is it payback for when she was younger and the banty pecked and chased her as she established herself as boss?
I'm not set-up enough to include a chicken jail for the RIR yet, but hope to be in a couple weeks. Until then the banty stays inside the house. My BA treats her gently when banty & she get to dustbathe and scartch around together. Perhaps the RIR needs to go...
Thanks in advance,
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The answer to the "when" question is usually given here as, when blood shows. I hope your chicken jail approach will work, when you can do it. You wouldn't be the first to resolve the problem by removing the bully permanently, though. Good luck.
Don't laugh, but are you SURE the RIR is a pullet/hen (you didn't say whether the chickens were young/mature). I guess I'm equating the laying flat with the one standing on top pulling neck feathers as rooster behavior. I've had a bully hen before, but never one that was THAT aggressive. I couldn't tolerate that - the bully would have to go, especially since the BA does okay with the banty.
Can you free range? If so, how does the RIR treat the banty then???
My GLW did the same thing to my RIR after she had been 10 days in the house becuz of injury. She also jumped on top of the RIR and grabbed her neck. Only ONCE! I broke it up immediately acting like a rooster and showing my dominance. I jailed the GLW and a Delaware who was also being a bit of a bully and kept the RIR with my other RIR. After the jailing for a couple of days, I let the GLW and her partner in crime out and the GLW still established dominance, but not so aggressively. After about 3 days, it was all settled and they live happily together now.
Sorry....forgot to mention the ages. The banty turned 1yr. May 10. The other 2 are 9 1/2 months. They are all girls, and laying.
When the RIR jumped on the banty's back she reminded me of a rooster mounting a hen, a very rough roo.

I'm thinking when the banty got a respiratory infection a few weeks ago it may have been due to stress. She was seen by my vet and we noticed small abrasions by her eyes (also somewhat swollen), on her comb, top of head and near her ears I think the RIR seemed to be going for her eyes! Her comb was pale and she didn't pass any poo or cecal droppings for a day and a half after being brought into the house. I wonder (can't be sure as I work all day) if the RIR was letting her eat. Just prior I heard on the baby monitor what was an attack, of course when I got out therre it was over. Also, one day many of my BA's feathers were in a clump under the roost, could the RIR be turning on this gentle bird too, I wonder?

I also wonder if all the cool weather and rain and being inside in a small coop made the RIR "snap". I tried to let them out in a (not secure) pen for scratching when I get home from work, but I'm sure 2 hrs. a day isn't enough. (must get permanent run finished!)
If that's the case I feel terrible.

P.S. I have forced the RIR down like a dominant roo might, it didn't seem to phase her.
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when i added a new 10 week old to my teenage girls, the drama was over in 2 days. i had beforehand kept them seperate but within view of each other, and then put her in the big girls' run for a day at a time. but that didn't work because the big hen boss pecked her terribly and so i'd take her out. finally we had to just put the youngin in and let them work it out. it was a bit stressful for all of us for 2 days, but by the third day things had calmed down. i'm new at this, but i'm thinking anything longer than that, and more violent than pecking, just isn't the pecking order drama you think it is

The RIR is separated by wire while all 3 are dustbathing and such. If I lift the wire gate is lifted, the RIR goes after her! Also, she grabs banty's comb thru the wire.
Im having very similar problems. Its seems that the pecking order is really rough when the dominant bird is the one who gets removed for illness. Annabel was top bird but was out for a few weeks during a near fatal viral infection. Now the others hold her down, pull out her feathers and drag her around by her comb or one will pull on her comb while another tries to drag her another direction by her wing. Its always bloody by the time I get them separated. Marybell has gone all power hungry and evil. Let me know if anything works for you. Im not having any luck so far and Im thinking about re homing a bird.
I would just cull the mean one. I would also cull for respiratory infection as many, maybe most birds become carriers of the infection after the symptoms seem to be gone.

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