Agression

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Toosje

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Agression
« on: March 02, 2018, 09:52 »
Hello all,

Since the most urgent topic is tackled and under construction I really would like your advise on another subject I have been struggling with.

This is going to be a bit of a long story.. :tongue2:

I have had my 3 silkies for almost 4 years now and beside a little misunderstanding or excess in hormones (moods!!) once every while there never really has been a problem among them.

Last autumn Jelle and I found a young chicken in the woods. We decided to keep her/him and if it would be a him we would try and give him a good chance of living with us.
After a few weeks he started crowing and we knew we where dealing with a he :) He was growing fast and starting to ..tread? my little ones. It was very stressful for them: he already was to big and they would be lying flat on the ground while it was happening. What to do?

After some considering we decided to find a few ladies his own size, hoping he would prefer this (he does actually).
Through the internet we found two hens: one ex-battery (Heidi) and a Brahma with 'wrong colors' (Klara-bella). The ex battery was so extremely aggressive, I seriously considered taking her back. We got her with the message she was to shy/socially not strong enough for the flock the lady had. After some consultation with a 'save ex-battery hens organization' we managed to calm her down. In the mean time Klara-Bella and Otto were forming a steady couple.

We applied all the rules relating to introducing new hens to your flock. For some reason Klara-Bella is still so aggressive towards the little ones that now we have two runs, two coops, the garden is divided in two so both flocks have the opportunity to free range.
If they happen te be together, what she does is: she starts following one of the little ones through the garden, Heidi joins in, they close in the little one and start pecking. Sometimes Otto treads one of the little ones and if she gets the chance she pecks them while they can't get away.

Now we have started to separate her as soon as she starts. She is put back in to her run and has to stay there for a while.

What would you advise? Is there a possibility of 'starting over again'?
Some times Heidi is with the little ones, without Otto and Klara-Bella. In general this is ok.
I am at the point I'd rather find a new place for the big ones but know it is almost impossible to find a place for a cockerel. Beside that: Jelle has totally fallen in love with Klara-Bella, so even if Otto is going, I don't think I will be able to convince him she has to go too..
DSC_0594 - versie 2.JPG

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New shoot

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Re: Agression
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2018, 10:20 »
I think if that is the pecking order that has been established, it will be difficult to break now.  All the behaviour you describe is pretty standard for chickens.

It might be better to keep the smaller ones separate.  It doesn't always follow that the smallest hen is the least dominant, but if the larger ones have taken the top hen positions, they have a definite size advantage.

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Toosje

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Re: Agression
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2018, 12:14 »
Ok.. That is not what I was hoping to hear ;)

I never thought it to be order pecking because it are full on attacks. Klara-Bella would climb to the coop entrance (It is about 50 cm off the floor) and jump on top of on of the silkies and start pecking. The 2 small ones are about 700 to 800 grams, the bigger (used to be leader) about 1200. Klara-Bella is over 3 kg. She would do the same whenever one of the silkies would try and lay an egg when she was about to lay as well. She would fly up the top shelf and drop herself on top of the other one. She would literally scream.
She will not share 'her' coop apart from with Otto and Heidi.

I really was thinking, we have done something wrong while introducing.

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New shoot

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Re: Agression
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2018, 13:18 »
I don't think you did anything wrong while introducing the 2 groups.  I just think you have a very dominant hen who is not afraid to assert herself.  She has decided she will tolerate Heidi so long as she toes the line, but not the Silkies.  Perhaps this is because they are a gang of 3 and that is too much of a threat to her leadership if 1 of them decides to take her on, or maybe they are more feisty than you think.  See if from her view - she is top hen, she has Otto on her side, she has her coop, her food and her territory and she doesn't want that to change.

My flock is also split as I have 2 boys who were best of friends for a long time, then sworn enemies.  Alphie came off worse and had to be given his own run with his girls.  The boys still fight through the wire of the runs when one lot is out, but the 2 top ladies from either flock - Naomi and Beyonce - well they really go for it and have drawn blood several times.

They scream and shout at each other, upset everyone else and literally launch themselves at the run wire in an effort to get to each other.  If they ever got out loose together, I dread to think what would go on.  Both of them would be hell bent on putting the other one down and claiming top hen position.

The 2 boys would not get between them, so Otto may feel the same way about getting between Klara-Bella and the silkies.

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Toosje

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Re: Agression
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2018, 15:37 »
Dear me, I didn't know it could be so bad! I often thought she isn't right in her little head!  ::)

She does have Otto on her side. The moment he saw her he was head over heels  :lol: you should have seen him, it was so funny! On his toes all day dancing to please his new beautiful big lady..

So probably this is it: 2 runs and two coops.. Jelle will have and operation in 3 weeks and we were thinking to maybe put runs against each other. They now are on opposite sides of the garden, but next to each other would be easier for me. If they would do the same as your Naomi and Beyonce, this is not a good idea ;) We'll see.

Your Alphie sounds like a fun little cockerel!

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New shoot

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Re: Agression
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2018, 15:59 »
Side by side runs should be OK.  If you haven't seen the Silkies facing up to Klara-Bella, they will just keep their distance.   If you do see fighting, you could tie some canvas or something similar along the side of one run.

Alphie in relaxed mode and looking scared as the 2 top girls face up to some trouble  ;)

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« Last Edit: March 02, 2018, 16:24 by New shoot »

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Sassy

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Re: Agression
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2018, 10:52 »
You could try isolating the aggressor for a couple of weeks. The theory being that when you reintroduce her she will be bottom of the pecking order. It does sound though as if her behaviour is pretty set. :(
Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted!!

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Toosje

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Re: Agression
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2018, 16:03 »
O he is beautiful! Proud little guy  :lol: If he would ware suspenders? his thumbs would be behind them.

Sassy, we could try that, and would that mean, using that time to re-introduce Otto and Heidi to the three silkies? We could start with Heidi, see if she will fit in, than Otto, he wil be glad to be back with one of his girls and then Klara-Bella?
When we separate her now because she attacked a little one, she goes wild in her run.. We would have to see how she takes that over a longer period of time.

New Shoot could be wright as well about them being feisty or otherwise maybe not behaving like hens that are 'under' an other hen.
I once had an old cat, she was on her own so she was 'ruling'. Then I brought home a little kitten from a farm and from the start there where fights. First because Loesje didn't accept a young one and later because Mao wanted to be on top. It took me quite some time to realize that Mao wasn't 'just attacking' Loesje but Loesje was challenging her some how. They never got over it and I ended up finding a new place to live for Mao..

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grinling

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Re: Agression
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2018, 20:52 »
Cats are mainly solitary creatures.
I have no top hen, I am in charge, so when Darwin makes life difficult for Sooty, Darwin is picked up and goes under my arm. This reminds her of who is in charge.

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Toosje

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Re: Agression
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2018, 12:41 »
Grinling, do you have your chickens from when they were little? How can you be in charge if they are together most of the time?

I haven't started yet with separating and reintroducing because of an upcoming operation of my partners hip but I get the impression that separating her when she starts has quieted things down a little.
When she starts with her war colors on we keep an eye on her.

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grinling

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Re: Agression
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2018, 17:39 »
Mine have all been hatched under a broody. My head hen died last year and no hen has taken command. Darwin picked on Sooty then. If I am in the garden Sooty stays close and when Darwin starts to chase her, Darwin is then picked up.
Sooty (smallest hen) picks on 2 others, 1 of them picks on Darwin. Sprout the oldest is not interested.
























 

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