Chickens are easily stressed and moving to a new home is one of the most stressful events a chicken can experience. Stress can have negative behavioral and physical manifestations in chickens, including, pecking, picking and bullying. When chickens of any age bully other chickens, the behavior must be interrupted, the cause determined, and the bully, reformed. This is how I reformed a brooder bully, but the technique works with chickens of all ages. There is a difference between establishing or maintaining one's place in the pecking order and true bullying. Enforcement of the social hierarchy with the occasional peck or nudge is to be expected, but repeated aggressive behavior causing injury is not.

There is a difference between establishing or maintaining one’s place in the pecking order and true bullying. Enforcement of the social hierarchy with the occasional peck or nudge is to be expected, but repeated, aggressive behavior causing injury is not normal, nor acceptable. If feathers are being picked or blood is being drawn, the behavior must be stopped. Any time a chicken is injured, they must be physically separated from the other birds for their own protection until the wound is 100% healed. Failure to do so can result in cannibalism and death.

There is a difference between establishing or maintaining one's place in the pecking order and true bullying. Enforcement of the social hierarchy with the occasional peck or nudge is to be expected, but repeated aggressive behavior causing injury is not.

Not long after bringing home three adorable, 6 week old bantam Cochins with frizzled feathers, the red chick, Rachel, began mercilessly pecking the other two chicks.  Poor Phoebe (the white chick) took the brunt of Rachel’s aggression and was often found cowering underneath Monica. I needed to find a solution to end to the pecking. The breeder from whom we purchased the chicks assured me that Rachel had not been a problem before the move, so it was fair to deduce that stress from moving was the cause of the bullying.

There is a difference between establishing or maintaining one's place in the pecking order and true bullying. Enforcement of the social hierarchy with the occasional peck or nudge is to be expected, but repeated aggressive behavior causing injury is not.
The Cochin friends, a few weeks after the peace summit.

Reforming the Bully
I physically segregated Rachel from the others chicks, while keeping her close to her brooder-mates. Everyone was still able to see and hear each other without danger of further injury. The chicks were in a simple, cardboard box brooder, which was ideally suited to making a chick condo. I connected a second large cardboard box to the first with duct tape. I then cut out a window in between the two boxes and secured window screening to the openings with a stapler. Hardware cloth could be used instead of window screening between the two boxes. To prevent the chicks from hopping out of or flying out of the brooder, I also secured window screening to the top of the brooder.

Rachel clearly wanted to get back to her brooder buddies, but it was necessary. In 4-5 days, the trio was physically reunited without further incident. They have been inseparable ever since. If the separation is not successful in the first few days, a few more days in quasi-segregation should do the trick.

There is a difference between establishing or maintaining one's place in the pecking order and true bullying. Enforcement of the social hierarchy with the occasional peck or nudge is to be expected, but repeated aggressive behavior causing injury is not.

Kathy Shea Mormino

Affectionately known internationally as The Chicken Chick®, Kathy Shea Mormino shares a fun-loving, informative style to raising backyard chickens. …Read on

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Chickens are easily stressed and moving to a new home is one of the most stressful events a chicken can experience. Stress can have negative behavioral and physical manifestations in chickens, including, pecking, picking and bullying. When chickens of any age bully other chickens, the behavior must be interrupted, the cause determined, and the bully, reformed. This is how I reformed a brooder bully, but the technique works with chickens of all ages. There is a difference between establishing or maintaining one's place in the pecking order and true bullying. Enforcement of the social hierarchy with the occasional peck or nudge is to be expected, but repeated aggressive behavior causing injury is not.

There is a difference between establishing or maintaining one’s place in the pecking order and true bullying. Enforcement of the social hierarchy with the occasional peck or nudge is to be expected, but repeated, aggressive behavior causing injury is not normal, nor acceptable. If feathers are being picked or blood is being drawn, the behavior must be stopped. Any time a chicken is injured, they must be physically separated from the other birds for their own protection until the wound is 100% healed. Failure to do so can result in cannibalism and death.

There is a difference between establishing or maintaining one's place in the pecking order and true bullying. Enforcement of the social hierarchy with the occasional peck or nudge is to be expected, but repeated aggressive behavior causing injury is not.

Not long after bringing home three adorable, 6 week old bantam Cochins with frizzled feathers, the red chick, Rachel, began mercilessly pecking the other two chicks.  Poor Phoebe (the white chick) took the brunt of Rachel’s aggression and was often found cowering underneath Monica. I needed to find a solution to end to the pecking. The breeder from whom we purchased the chicks assured me that Rachel had not been a problem before the move, so it was fair to deduce that stress from moving was the cause of the bullying.

There is a difference between establishing or maintaining one's place in the pecking order and true bullying. Enforcement of the social hierarchy with the occasional peck or nudge is to be expected, but repeated aggressive behavior causing injury is not.
The Cochin friends, a few weeks after the peace summit.

Reforming the Bully
I physically segregated Rachel from the others chicks, while keeping her close to her brooder-mates. Everyone was still able to see and hear each other without danger of further injury. The chicks were in a simple, cardboard box brooder, which was ideally suited to making a chick condo. I connected a second large cardboard box to the first with duct tape. I then cut out a window in between the two boxes and secured window screening to the openings with a stapler. Hardware cloth could be used instead of window screening between the two boxes. To prevent the chicks from hopping out of or flying out of the brooder, I also secured window screening to the top of the brooder.

Rachel clearly wanted to get back to her brooder buddies, but it was necessary. In 4-5 days, the trio was physically reunited without further incident. They have been inseparable ever since. If the separation is not successful in the first few days, a few more days in quasi-segregation should do the trick.

There is a difference between establishing or maintaining one's place in the pecking order and true bullying. Enforcement of the social hierarchy with the occasional peck or nudge is to be expected, but repeated aggressive behavior causing injury is not.
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Emily Usina Bowers
Emily Usina Bowers
10 years ago

Great information =) We have just recently gotten 8 chicks… 3 easter eggers, 2 barred rocks, and 2 buff orphingtons. One of the barred rocks kept trying to peck the others eyes out. We took him/her out for a bit where all of them could still see each other as you have described here. Though it did not take days and now they are all getting along. Thanks Kathy! The frizzled girls are adorable by the way!

TheChickenChick
TheChickenChick
10 years ago

If you want to keep them both, you'll need to keep them physically separated.
Your husband is a good egg. ♥

Vickie Redmond
Vickie Redmond
10 years ago

I'm having serious rooster issues. I have 2 roosters that have completely separate areas to live in lots of open space and plenty of hens for each. The boys were always together till last November when I had a man to watch them for a few days and he called and said one of them was hurt. So my husband being a good sport we drove 15 hrs back home to take him to the vet. The vet said to keep him confined in a small place where he could heal apparently he must have been kicked hard no broken… Read more »

Melissa
Melissa
10 years ago

Haha! That's what I named my three chickens! Love Friends! Except Phoebe is the B at our house :-)

Pamela Grover
11 years ago

Got a cage to separate the one I believe is bullying the others. I hope it helps! …pretty sure I know which one it is, she does it only when I'm at work. :(