June Blog: How to Deal With Chicken Bullies
Chickens are highly intelligent creatures. Having a backyard or farm chicken coop not only provides you with eggs and nourishment for you and your family, but it can also be an entertaining experience. However, when a bully joins the flock, it can lead to a stressful time for you and your hens.
Is my chicken a bully?
There’s a difference between one of your hens being a bully and your flock just finding its own peck order. Your peck order will establish itself among your flock when new chickens are added. Stronger hens will take a place of leadership while the rest find their place based on personality, strength, length of time in the flock, and breed of hen.
If the pecking and other unkind behavior lasts for more than a couple of weeks, is harsh with blood being drawn, or it tends to be coming from one hen, in particular, you may have a bully on your hands.
How can I stop my chickens from bullying?
It’s important to know what might be triggering the behavior first, so you can better get an idea of the proper tactics for creating peace in your flock.
Boredom: During the winter months especially, when your chickens are all “cooped up.” they can get bored and may start pecking on each other as a form of entertainment. Often the weakest of the lot that’s targeted by the bully. You can aim to curb this boredom by giving your hens something to keep them busy, such as toys, swings, etc.
Sickness: If one chicken is sick or weaker than the others, the flock will peck at them and refuse food to this hen until she decides to leave. Of course, the chicken can’t leave, so the bully will get worse. In these situations, you can remove the weak or sick chicken from the flock until it is healthy enough to return.
Stress: Your flock may become stressed when new chickens are added or during the hot summer months. You need to make sure there is enough room in your coop for every chicken to have a little space. This will help keep your flock happy without having the stronger ones attempt to kick the weaker ones out of the coop.
Personality: Sometimes one or two chickens may be loners or brooders by nature. When they don’t automatically join their place in the pecking order, they can be bullied by the other chickens. Try locking the brooding chickens outside the coop and/or away from the rest of the flock for a couple of days. This will usually persuade the hen to take its place in the pecking order when it returns.
Usually, by observing your flock for stressors or behaviors that are triggering bullying in your coops, you can remove these stressors or rectify the situation before it gets uncontrollable and so you can keep enjoying the company of your chickens.
Looking for some boredom busters for your chickens? Check out our blog on 3 DIY toys to cure your chicken’s boredom blues!