Beginners Guide To Raising backyard chickens – Chicken Jail for Aggressive Hens
One of my passions is raising backyard chickens. They are easy to keep, very cool pets, and the eggs are tastier than you will buy in any store. In a previous FB Live, I mentioned TicTac being a bully especially when it comes to food. She is definitely the alpha chicken and has shown she is the top chicken. Nimbus is actually bigger than her now, but in the pecking order she is lowest in the group. What’s funny is little Lacey seems to be second chicken. It is personality, not size that determines who is on top.
So when you have an chicken who pushes the rest around, here are some things to consider. We are using chicken jail in this case.
1. Isolation – Chicken Jail
Lock up the offending bully alone to show it who’s the boss. (Just in case you weren’t sure…it is You.) In order for isolation to work, the bully needs to see the flock going about its day without its meddling. Does it pick on the hens when they’re foraging? It should have to watch them forage. Does it bully the hens when they eat? It should have to watch them eat without its interference.
If none of your chickens can free range, rig up a temporary shelter for the offender next to the coop so it can watch the others go about their daily business. Continue enforcing isolation until this behavior changes.
Just to point out though, reversing the isolation, and letting the bully free range while the rest of the flock is locked up will not change its behavior.
What you are doing is shaking up the pecking order and showing the bully you are the alpha chicken… I mean human. haha By restricting the bully but allowing her to see the flock, you are also allowing the flock to see her. The pecking order will change when the bully is isolated. We have seen a small improvement, in the 2 days we have used this technique.
If a problem chicken is picking on other chickens, but not harming them, the behavior is part of the flock’s pecking order. This isn’t a problem, per se, but this alpha chicken might see its keeper as a threat. Understanding patterns can help the chicken keeper deal with its behavior.
TicTac is more protective when the dogs are out. She also feels entitled to eat before the rest of my flock. I’ve learned to spread treats out and give everyone space to eat. I also have been picking TicTac up and holding her to give the girls a chance as well as chicken jail in the evening.
Pecking order, and as the term implies, is established by using their beaks. But, that does not mean that the hens spend their days attacking each other. A group of chickens should quickly reach an agreement, and each hen will know her status. Status determines who gets the best tidbit and who gets to sleep in the prime spot on the roosts. Think of the pecking order as a resource guarding. Hens want to keep the best things for themselves and the pecking order determines first dibs. Luckily for us she is only aggressive toward the other chickens. She is very passive towards us, but she does stand up against to the dogs. She is not afraid of them. It is part of the pecking order and as we continue to adjust the pecking order will balance out.