will older hens peck younger to death?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by plantchild, Jul 25, 2014.

  1. plantchild

    plantchild Hatching

    Jun 30, 2014
    Hello! Thanks in advance for your help! We have 10 various hens that are 16 months old and teenagers (as we like to call them) that are 4 to 5 months old (5 hens 3 roosters). Currently they share the same coop, but are separated into separate sections so they can see and hear each other but cannot mingle. Each group has their own outside run.
    Well one of the roosters (we call him big John) is starting to getting REALLY aggressive toward the hens. We are currently looking for a home for the roosters. I have tired twice now to merge the two flocks early in the morning when I opened them up to let them outside. Immediately the older birds found the younger birds and started pecking them! We tried to leave them for a bit to see what would happen, but the kids and I were worried that they would peck the young girls to death! One of the younger birds they didn't seems to bother too much but the two small speckled sussex they were really going after. So we moved them back with the roosters.
    I have been reading the old threads and here is what I am thinking and would love any thoughts you have!

    1. Try to integrate them at night and see what happens. Or just integrate in the am and let them go...or have the kids sit and watch for while....will the pecking go on for a few days?? The question is will the older chickens peck a younger one to death or do they just pick on them so the little's know who is boss. The teenagers are a little smaller then the older ones but not much.

    Thanks for any thoughts and advice you may have!
  2. Mountain Peeps

    Mountain Peeps Change is inevitable, like the seasons

    Apr 23, 2014
    My Coop
    Yes, the older bossier chickens will sadly peck the young ones to death if you throw them in. The best way to go about this introducing is the "see but don't touch" method. This involves placing a barrier in between the two groups so they can't reach each other but are still around each other.

    Here's some links of that.

    Good luck![​IMG]
    1 person likes this.
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Looks like you've been using the "see but don't touch" method already. In my experience, it doesn't matter if you keep a barrier between them for a length of time - there will still be kerfluffles to establish the pecking order. I would let them be together and watch. If blood is drawn, either separate that chicken until it heals (if it's badly wounded) or put Blu-Kote on it and put it back in the pen so you don't have to try to reintegrate that chicken later. It would help to have hiding places for your younger chickens to go to, and another feeder and waterer for them. It's also helpful if they have lots of room. Mine free range, so it's usually not too much of a problem.
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    How much space do they have? As a rule, if the younger birds have a place to run away from the older bird, and maybe something to block line of sight, they'll be okay at the 4-5 month old range. It's really rare for an older bird to really chase a younger bird down, to pursue it and do it damage if the younger bird has room to run away.
  5. jessietacos

    jessietacos In the Brooder

    May 31, 2014
    It truely depends on their breed and amount of space they have. I have chickens of different ages, two weeks apart to be exact. When they were younger I had to seperate then a little, but I let them intervene when supervised. Now they can't stand being without each other! I hope this helped:)
  6. peggymou

    peggymou Chirping

    Jul 25, 2014
    You say that yours free range, but do they still share a coop a night. I need to get rid of a few of roosters, but would love to add a couple more pullets, but now I'm apprehensive. I hate to see chicks being picked on. Is it an age thing?
  7. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    No, it's a chicken thing. It's called establishing the pecking order. It happens in some degree every time you add to or subtract from the flock. But I think it's safe to say, the younger the chickens, the more they'll be picked on - especially if they don't have enough room. If you're adding pullets close in size to your established flock, it should help. There are no guarantees. They are live animals, therefore unpredictable. Some flocks may settle things in a day or so, others may take weeks.
  8. tnmommy

    tnmommy Songster

    Apr 14, 2013
    Loretto, TN
    I'm at a loss right now about how it's going with my juveniles and I'm about to give up with my particular group. I have 2 cockerels too many in my Orpington bunch and the oldest juvenile is the one we are keeping. But I only have 3 chicks in the youngest bunch and I can't introduce only one new flock member, so....I have to keep all 3 for awhile but I don't really want to. My last introduction of new flock members went well, but there were more new juveniles and they were almost as big as the adults. Man, did I learn my lesson this time.

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