Why is my top hen picking on my bottom hen


5 Years
Jan 6, 2017
Holland, MI
I'm a bit perplexed. Today for some reason my EE (top of order) started picking on my BR (bottom of order). I cannot figure out why.

I have 3 chickens, never a pecking order issue except when we lost one in the flock & it was just minor reestablishing positions. Otherwise they are all great together. My 3rd is a BO & she's the middle girl. All are about 6 months, together since day 1. My BO & BR have been laying for a few weeks. My EE is not laying yet.

Today I found my BR hiding in a corner. I held her a bit bc I could tell the was a kerfuffle. When I put her down my EE had another dustup with her. So I separated them. Each time I let them try out being together today, my EE just kinda stays after her....hasn't pecked her or anything again bc my BR just kinda runs away.

What's going on? Could she be close to laying & acting bullyish bc of that? Everything is the same & the have tons of room, food & water.
Even if they have a lot of room in general, if you have a small feeder and/or waterer, they might not have enough space to eat and drink. The top hens will sometimes peck at the bottom hens. Could your BR be sick or unwell in any way? Sometimes hens will peck at sick or hurt hens. Your EE could just be a bully hen, maybe it's because she is close to laying, I think you should keep her until she starts laying and see what happens then.
Well, theyou have a feeder in their coop, plus each day food in 2 spots in their yard. 1 water spot but it's fairly big. After their little Tiffany this morning my BR has a few scratches on her comb & near her eye (she was keeping it closed a lot at first, now mostly open, maybe just irritated from the scratch), so now she's sort of injured, but this morning she wasn't. I don't think she's sick. She's been eating, drinking, running around, dust bathing, laying eggs .... no signs of being sick.

Do chickens just have a random day of being a bully? I mean she's totally the leader & always sqwaks at the other two to go to bed at bed time...
But she's generally pretty mild mannered...not a big seeker of attention or loud or whatever. Is there always a reason for bully behavior in a generally good chicken
If she is hurting your BR maybe you should consider getting the EE a new home or something. I just got online and read that pecking can be a sign of boredom. You can cut open a melon or zuchinni and leave it in the chicken yard, or you can cut a cabbage in half and hang it from something so that they can peck at it. You can throw mealworms in the pen for them to scratch at, a flock block (a tightly packed block of seeds, nuts, mealworms, etc.), or different levels of shelves and roosts for them to explore. Keep their environment interesting, and you can seperate the hen who is pecking for a few days in a run inside the pen so that the hens don't forget about her and beat her up when she comes back. Good luck!
You can also put assortments of branches in pile in the pen. My chickens love it. They can roost on them, lay in the shade, hide from predators, find bugs in the wood, and walk around in them. Chickens are forest animals and will love some branches.
Young hens do become moody around puberty. The pecking order suddenly becomes more important to them as they start to lay. Top hen gets the most resources so her offspring have a better chance of survival. Most young hens calm down after a few months of laying.

The pecking order isn't always set in stone and can change daily especially in such a small flock. The best thing you can do is give them plenty of room to keep busy and to be able to get away from each other. Smaller coops and runs can encourage aggressive behaviors.
We have a really huge coop & yard for them. Lots of roosts, a huge dust bath, lots of hiding places etc.

It really just seems like my top girl is just exerting her pecking order position. I watched them last night & she was even a little pushy and bossy with our middle girl. At night they all roasted together perfectly, with my EE snuggling under my BRs big fluffy feathers like she loves to do. So it doesn't seem like a real aggression or boredom issue, just trying to rule the school yard.

Today I have the yard divided & she's on her own (trying to check her ego a bit since she got right back to it when they all were outside again). Now she's pacing along the divider like a nervous Nelly! I'm hoping she'll calm down bc I don't want her working herself up in to a stressed out chicken!
What are the dimensions of your coop? L x W x H? And what are the dimensions of your run? Sounds like a space issue to me.

Our coop is like a mansion (floor is 6ft x 4ft; height is 6 ft on one side 5ft on the other)

Our yard for them is like a trapezoid...long side probably 25 ft, angled sides 12 ft, short side 11 ft. It's pretty enormous. They have a big kiddie pool full of sand & dirt for dust baths, lots of roosts, pallets to hide behind etc

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