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Katharinem

Help- bully chicken

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Hi,

Please help! Got three ex batts yesterday, never kept chickens before. Within half an hour the largest chicken began bullying the other two, she’s constantly going for them and biting them hard. She won’t let them near the food, they’re scared to come out of their Eglu into the run. Any advice? Is this normal as we only got them yesterday so is it an expected part of establishing the pecking order, or should I intervene? 

Also, I found one trampled on egg this morning. How do you stop them from doing that?

Any help would be so welcome, thanks. Katharine 

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Sorry to hear you’re having a tough time.

Make sure you have several feeding and drinking stations. The bully can’t guard fhem all. Some pecking, shouting and chasing is normal. As long she isn’t drawing blood, it should be fine. How much space do they have. The more the better at this stage.

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Thanks for your reply. I have only put one feeding and one water station but that’s a good idea, I’ll double it. They have an eglu go and a 2m run so it’s not huge, but they’ll have free reign of the garden at least 4 days a week and the garden is a good size. I’m hoping they’ll settle in quickly. 

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They should be fine. Just don’t free range them the first week or two. They need to feel at home in the run first, otherwise you’ll be chasing them down the road.

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It's all part of establishing the pecking order and it can be distressing to watch them being bullied. Follow CatT's advice and everything should settle down reasonably quickly. If you don't already have some, buy some Gentian Antiseptic Spray for them in case the bully draws blood. As well as being an antiseptic it will stop the others from pecking at the redness.

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7 hours ago, Katharinem said:

Hi,

Please help! Got three ex batts yesterday, never kept chickens before. Within half an hour the largest chicken began bullying the other two, she’s constantly going for them and biting them hard. She won’t let them near the food, they’re scared to come out of their Eglu into the run. Any advice? Is this normal as we only got them yesterday so is it an expected part of establishing the pecking order, or should I intervene? 

Also, I found one trampled on egg this morning. How do you stop them from doing that?

Any help would be so welcome, thanks. Katharine 

Hello,

It sounds like it could just be the dominant hen asserting herself at the top of the pecking order, but there's a few things you can do to help the hens being picked on: make sure they have multiple food and water sources, so the bully hen can't prevent them from having access. You can also try some distraction feeding too: throw a few handfuls of corn around for them - or a bit of broccoli or something. You could also give them a few toys to distract them: they quite like mirrors or treat balls.

You can use some anti-peck spray which won't completely stop it, but will probably lessen it. Do the less dominant hens have any bald patches or injuries anywhere on them? If they do, you can use some indigo dye too; it's basically a coloured antiseptic which helps treat the injuries, but the colour of the dye makes hens less inclined to keep pecking at those injuries (they're attracted to the colour red, apparently).

If things get really bad you can also try fitting a bumpa-bit to the beak of the bully. It doesn't stop her eating or drinking, just from pulling their feathers out and pecking them too aggressively. If it gets to that point then take the bully hen out of the run and leave her in a separate run or cage in sight of the others so she is segregated. Then reintroduce her slowly; she should come to see herself as the dominant hen and lose her place in the pecking order so she won't be as much of a bully.

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