by Valerie

I have a flock of 6 hens who have been together since they were 3 days old. Suddenly, a few days ago we noticed our Rhode Island Red being attacked by a lower ranking hen and the head chicken. They jump on her back and peck her comb and pull feathers. It seems to me that the lower ranking hen (an easter egger) has decided to move up in rank and the head hen is helping her. I need suggestions on how to proceed. In order to save our RIR, I let her stay out in our yard while the rest of the flock is in their chicken yard. If I separate them for a week or so, will that help the situation or make it worse? Or should I separate the lower ranked chicken who seems to be making the trouble?

Thank you!

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by: Sharon

There is no simple solution to this problem. What you did was good, but there are no guarantees that the RIR will be accepted back in a kind way. Possibly a break from each other is good.

Sometimes it's difficult keep a flock of hens without a rooster, but not everyone wants or can have a rooster. Roosters do help keep order in a flock. His attentions generally keep the girls too busy to bully each other.

Some hens are super dominant, above what might be normal for flock unity and order. When I have any males or females that are trouble makers, I remove them generally.

There are no rules set in stone guaranteed to solve the problem and create peace again. Sometimes a time out for days, removing the most dominant hen can erase her status and let her power shift to others. Depends if they are able to stand up to her when she returns & if she is willing to submit. You never really know how it will play out.

The Easter-Egger could be the problem, there could be something wrong with the RIR and the flock management is trying to make her leave, there could be an issue of not enough room for everyone, not enough nests, not enough shade, roosts higher than others, nests higher than others, crowding at the feeder or water... Only by studying their behaviors, under normal conditions or if you make some changes, can you learn what the cause might be.

I always assume that my chickens have very good reasons for their behaviors, and I study them to try to learn what's going on.

The easiest conclusion for me is to remove the most aggressive, either temporarily or permanently.

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