Why does the flock start to pick on one chicken??

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Runfox, Apr 22, 2011.

  1. Runfox

    Runfox Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 4, 2009
    I have 9 chickens, one rooster , the rest are hens. I have deer netting around the fence 7' high to keep them from flying over the 4' chain link fence. One hen got stuck under the netting, and the others all started pecking her, till she had bare spot. i got her out and she survived. But now I see one of the smaller hens is being pecked and sort of an outcast by the other hens. I let the flock come out of the pen into our back yard often so I don't think they are stressed or anything.I don't think their coop area is too small. I have just noticed this lately, my flock is just over a year old.

    Another question, my chicken coop is 4x4, with 7 egg laying boxes, this coop is attached to a 10'x10' dog fence where the flock roost at night up on a ladder roost. All this is in a 20'x15' fenced area. This gate is left open to the coop so the flock roams the large fenced area all day, then some times we open the gate so they can come in our back yard. So we have 9 chickens now, and my wife wants 6 more chickens. Do you think we have the room ? We had 12 at one time but have lost a few since.

  2. Basshawg

    Basshawg New Egg

    Aug 17, 2010
    East Liberty, Ohio
    We recently added 4 hens. One of them got picked on so bad, that there was a bloody spot on her head. I removed her from the group and isolated her in her own pen. She is almost completely healed, and feathers have grown completely back. I had a fellow chicken friend advise me to put her back in the group at NIGHT! I asked why, he stated that the group would act like she never left. Sneaky, but effective!

  3. AKsmama

    AKsmama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 20, 2010
    South Carolina
    Quote:It's true that most do try to integrate back into the flock at night, but it doesn't always go down smoothly, especially if that chicken was low on the pecking order to begin with. Often there's still some pecking of the "newcomer" but it's usually over with within a few days. Chickens are dumb, but they're not that dumb. They do notice when a previously missing member has been added back.

    I just don't want anyone to get the idea that adding them in at night is going to prevent any reintegration issues. The longer a chicken is gone, the longer it will take for them to be accepted back into the flock. As long as the "new" chicken isn't being injured, it's probably better to leave them to work the new pecking order out themselves.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2011
  4. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    If you're experiencing pecking problems, it doesn't really matter if you think your chickens have enough room. Your chickens may not agree. If the 9 chickens are using a 4' x 4' coop, I'm not surprised that they're squabbling. It usually isn't recommended to try to house more than 4 chickens in a coop that size.

    The 10' by 10' dog kennel should be roomy enough for 9 chickens, but there's probably squabbling over the high spot on the ladder roost. You might find that the chickens get along better if you used a single level roost with enough width for all the chickens to be on the same level (allowing about 12" of width per chicken).

    When one chicken is getting picked on by everybody else, it's often a sign that the flock can see some weakness in her. Examine that chicken carefully. Has she lost weight recently? Does she have mites or some other problem you can spot? Birds are very good at hiding illnesses for their own survival, but other chickens can spot things that we often miss unless we look very carefully.
  5. Ebar

    Ebar Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 13, 2015
    I'm having the same problem, it's just one they pick on, I took two out for a week that I thought were the bullies and they started to get along fine, but the one will still hid in the coop and now is not even roosting at night with the others it sits in the laying box at night, not sure what to do next, pecking is around the back of the neck, I took her out for a week to heal and she was doing fine now it has started again in the same spot, so I have been spraying blue kote on it to heal and so they don't see any blood
  6. ticketism

    ticketism Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 17, 2015
    We had a similar thing happen in our flock. Our 2 oldest Orpingtons don't pick on anyone and are very confident and assured of their status in the pecking order. The 4 younger ones (2 buff Orpingtons, a light Sussex and a platinum/lavender Sussex) seem to constantly be vying for position. I think it's because they're fairly evenly matched. The buffs are both 18 weeks old, the Sussex both 16 weeks, but the Sussex weigh a bit more than the buffs while looking a bit smaller, coz the buffs are so fluffy. The light Sussex in particular is very strong willed and has a 'take no sh!t' attitude, while the platinum one is quite timid and gentle. So she's not really a challenger, but that hasn't stopped the buffs from continuing to try putting them in their place. We removed both the buffs and isolated them for a while, when we put them back in everything was okay for a while... Then the power struggle started right back up again. The light Sussex protects the lavender one from it, but I just don't know why they haven't sorted it out yet. I've noticed our pullets have all gone through a bit of a 'snippy' stage as they hit POL that continues until they that laying, so maybe they get a kind of PMS, hahaha. Hopefully once they're all older and bigger the power structure will be sorted out and they can live harmoniously again. But it is weird and not nice to see them pick on just one particular bird who never challenges them or tries to overtake their position in the pecking order. They even roost together sometimes, but while the top three in the pecking order always roost together in the same positions, the lower three go through 'roost spot politics' nearly every night, and end up in different positions all the time. The light Sussex has taken to sleeping on the floor of the sleep space, with her head out the door, just watching out around the coop all night. Even when she decides to roost, she picks the only spot that she can roost and still have her head out the door. She's always done it, I swear she thinks she's a guard dog or something.
  7. Ebar

    Ebar Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 13, 2015
    Well they won lay in the nest if she is in there, they lay on the floor of the coop or the other nest, and when I let them out she separates herself from the other hens
  8. RR&L

    RR&L Just Hatched

    Jul 29, 2017
    I see that there hasn’t been any posts for a while, so let me post this with my situation. I have 10 hens, no roosters (not allowed in the city limits). One of my hens, a small Americana, is being pecked and bullied by one Red and one Black hen, almost twice the size of the Americana. These hens are about 24 weeks old. The little runt stays to herself for the most part, and also hangs out in the coop, and roosts in one of the nesting boxes most of the time. This issue is becoming more serious since she is a hyper hen and these few hens seem to pick on her whenever she shows up in the flock. There was a time when they all roosted on the perches in the coop at night, with the little one usually on the end of the top roost. She kind of picked that spot early on, but now she will not roost but in one of the nesting boxes. I normally put feed and water in the coop near where she hangs out, but now the other hens now know the feed and water is there. Any ideas.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC!
    There can be pecking order changes as they come into lay......am guessing that at 24 weeks that might be close?
    There will always be a 'low bird', how well she gets along can depend on space for her to get away. If she's not getting enough food you may need a second feed/water station as far away as possible from the first one.
    More info would help:
    your coop(size in feet by feet with pics),
    roost length in feet,
    and what and how exactly you are feeding,
    might offer clues to if there is a solvable problem.

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