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Chicken Bullying

Many times you'll see hens pecking or bullying other chickens in their flock. This is a natural occurrence and is a way that chickens establish their pecking order. Pecking order is important within a flock because those higher in rank get more food, and they get their choice of roosting spots in the coop. While pecking and bullying are part of a natural cycle, some birds can take it too far - pecking combs until they bleed, or even pecking other birds to death in some severe cases.

If new birds are introduced or there are changes in location for your birds, you should watch them closely for a few days to make sure that they adjust and don't mistreat each other too drastically in the process. If you do notice overly aggressive behavior, there are a few steps that you can take to return peace to the flock.

If one bird is taking the brunt of the abuse, you can try separating the bird in a cage that allows other birds to see the chicken, but doesn't give them access to her. After a few days, you can allow the hen to rejoin the flock. Let any wounds fully heal before reintroducing the hen, since chickens will very often attack bleeding or wounded birds. If other birds continue to harass the weak bird, repeat the process until they accept her into the flock.

Another reason hens can become overly aggressive is when they become broody. Broody hens mean business, and they can become very aggressive with other birds or even human handlers during this time. If you want to break a bird's broodiness to keep her from being so aggressive or sitting on eggs that are not fertilized, you can place the bird in a large cage with a wire mesh bottom. The mesh bottom keeps the hen from being able to retain any heat and thus thwarts her instinct to incubate eggs. You can let the brooding hen out at night to roost, but you should return her to the cage during the day. After 4-5 days, her broodiness should be broken and you can return her to the flock.


Once a pecking order has been established and you know how to manage unwanted broodiness, you'll have a more peaceful flock, which in turn will make your experience with poultry much more enjoyable.