Bully behaviour training

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Sisterhood
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Bully behaviour training

Post by Sisterhood » 05 Apr 2014, 14:15

Hello all,

We have a problem bully-hen who likes to pick the feathers off the backs of the other four girls. Two of them in particular are getting the worst of it, with Betty wearing a jacket now to allow for some re-growth, and we're going to do the same for Margot this weekend.

So far we've tried solitary confinement for periods and beak bits, which have had some modified success - but she is our cleverest hen (which is not saying much!) and has worked out how to pick feathers with a beak bit on. I don't think she understands why she's in solitary, so that doesn't have much effect - also the broody / isolation box we've been using is an elevated extention off the side of the run, and we had heard that if they are isolated LOWER than the other hens then this has more of an effect on their behaviour - particularly if the others can climb on top and physically stand over her.

Has anyone on here tried such a thing?

So we have borrowed a dog cage from a friend and she is now confined in there with her own food and water, and one or two of the others have climbed up on top - we're leaving her there for the rest of the day and might do it again tomorrow.

What do people think?? Are we judged prolonging the inevitable point which I dare not speak out loud?

Thanks for any thoughts...
Sophie

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Re: Bully behaviour training

Post by Hen-Gen » 05 Apr 2014, 14:38

I have experienced my first outbreak of this last winter and one hen was killed. This is also the only year that I've ever not had a cockerel. So no empirical evidence but it seems as though cocks do keep order and stop this kind of shenanigans. Having said that of course not everyone can keep a cock so we have to find other solutions. I tried hanging cabbages about 12 ins above the ground and this appeared to distract the aggressors. Certainly as the weather picked up and I allowed my hens out all aggression stopped. They seem to find rootling around in the grass more enjoyable than bullying.
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Sisterhood
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Re: Bully behaviour training

Post by Sisterhood » 05 Apr 2014, 18:39

Thank god we've not had anything that bad - she's just idly picking on them. And no we don't have a cockerel, and living on a terrace I don't think it would go down too well!!

I'll report back if the dog cage has an effect - one of two of the others have been up on top of it...

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Gilly C
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Re: Bully behaviour training

Post by Gilly C » 05 Apr 2014, 19:59

I had similar behaviour in an aviary I kept the bird isolated for 2 weeks before returning the bad behaviour stopped even returning the bird at night will undo the daytime in my opinion

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subruss
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Re: Bully behaviour training

Post by subruss » 06 Apr 2014, 10:25

If you are intent on keeping her I would separate her until all the other hens have regrown all their feathers, this behavior has a tendency to start with a small injury or new broken feathers where the blood is still in the tip the chicken picks at the injury or blood spot and gets to like it(chickens love blood) the time it takes for them to regrow their feathers will break the habit and the fully feathered birds means there are no sores or new feathers to pick at,normally problem solved. :)

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Re: Bully behaviour training

Post by soufle » 06 Apr 2014, 11:01

further to Hen-Gen's comment and the cockerel ,I witnessed my first agro yesterday , the crowing hen I have was chasing and bullying another bird.The cockerel kept coming between them and standing inbetween them until crowing hen got fed up and went off. Ive been considering getting rid of my cock as he's getting a bit shirty again but I can see that they do have their uses.

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Re: Bully behaviour training

Post by drfish » 07 Apr 2014, 09:47

I haven't had a single bullying incident, even on the lower hen when food is available, since the Appenzeller started throwing his weight about. The slightest inkling of trouble and he's all over it, chest puffed out, and gives them a gentle reminder via a peck on the head.

At the moment, he's busy squaring up to the drake through the fence for most of the day. The drake, not content with his own women, keeps sniffing around the hens as they walk by him at the fence. I think the ducks play too hard to get :lol:
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Re: Bully behaviour training

Post by sunnys » 07 Apr 2014, 10:50

when i had an outbreak of this in orpington growers once the feathers had grown back I gave them a dosing in 'bitter apple ' spray every day for a couple of weeks. that stopped it. its a spray sold to stop dogs chewing but seems to work well on hens.

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Re: Bully behaviour training

Post by rita123 » 13 Apr 2014, 19:43

i have used the dog cage on my girl a few years ago, it did work. it lowers their status in the pecking order. i only used it for 2 days, i did put her back at night with the others but put her back into the dog cage in the morning. good luck. i have just got some more new girls and i am now back to square one with a unhappy flock. i hate it when there is no harmony with the girls.

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Re: Bully behaviour training

Post by Sisterhood » 04 May 2014, 19:26

Thanks for the replies - it's still a work in progress here.
I think we need to try the dog cage over a longer period.

My OH is a bit of a softy and says 'oh look she's sorry now. Let's let her back in - she's doesn't have enough room in there...' etc.

I will look out the bitter apple spray...

Thanks and good luck with your new hens Rita.

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