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Chicken Bullying: How to Stop Them Pecking Each Other

chicken bullying

Todays’ article tackles one of the least endearing qualities of our beloved hens – chicken bullying.

It is more than establishing the ‘pecking order’- it is systematically picking on one or two hens for no apparent reason.

Bullying can be limited to feather plucking or escalate into full-blown warfare, with the receiving hen being severely injured or possibly killed.

In this article, we will cover the usual causes of bullying, how to stop them from pecking each other, and finally, what to do when you need to intervene.

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  • Increase Egg Production
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  • Healthy Feathers

The Pecking Order As It Relates To Chicken Bullying

Chicken Bullying Behavior
This is just a brief rehash of the pecking order to refresh your memory. If you want to get more in-depth information, please see our article on the pecking order.

The pecking order is a complex relationship structure within the flock. A birds’ place within the flock is determined by age, ambition, personality, etc.

A hen who wishes to rise to the top will be assertive with her flock mates ensuring dominance over them first.

When she is integrated into the flock, she will initially be at the bottom, but she will challenge the more timid hens and rise through the ranks accordingly.

When viewed from the outside, this behavior can seem like bullying, but this particular behavior has a gainful purpose and is usually short-lived.

It will stop when one of the antagonists gives way.

Bullying is a sustained behavior that really has no purpose other than to intimidate or harm another hen.

Let’s look at some of the usual causes of bullying now.

Usual Causes of Chicken Bullying

Chicken Bullying
There are four main causes for bullying to erupt:

  • Stress
  • Boredom
  • Sickness
  • Overcrowding


Chickens love routine, and anything that changes their routine can lead to stress.

The major stressors are new members in the flock, death of a flock mate, change of feed, new accommodations, and a host of other minor things.

Usually, they deal with stress by going off lay for a few days, being quieter than usual, but on occasion, the stress can trigger one hen to act out of character and become aggressive to a flock mate(s).

Stress can also be caused by the presence of a predator or an eager farm dog lurking about.


Winter-time is the usual time for boredom aggression. They can’t or won’t go out in the weather, and they have little to do, so feather picking starts.

If it stayed as a minor thing with occasional picking, that would be acceptable, but it can escalate into a frenzy of picking by several hens.

The victim is usually terrified to go anywhere near the bully girl(s) and hide for most of the day. She will likely be frightened to go into the coop at night also.

They may keep her from eating and drinking, so it is important to have more than one feeding station available so that she can eat in peace.

Also, make sure to read our chicken winter boredom busters to avoid this type of problem.


Chickens know intuitively when one of their own is sick. In the wild, chickens would drive a sick chicken from the flock as she becomes a liability for the rest of the chickens.

This can happen in our domestic hens too. They will pluck at her, driving her away from the flock.


Probably the number one cause of bullying. Many chicken folks are guilty of impulse buying or hatching, thinking one or two more birds won’t hurt.

In good weather with free-ranging that may hold, but in winter – not so much.
Remember, each large bird requires 4sq.ft/bird in the coop and 8sq.ft/bird in the run.

If there are tight quarters, it’s a given that mischief will break out.

Think about how you would like to spend the winter with your family in one room all the time. As much as you may love your family – nerves will get frayed, and tempers may flare.

Read how much room do chickens need for more help.
Now we know what the usual causes of bullying are, let’s look at preventing it.

How to Stop ‘Bully’ Hens

Chicken Flock Behavior
If you notice some minor anti-social stuff going on, try to figure out why it’s happening.
Have there been recent stressors for them?

Is there anything you can do to change or help them?

You can partially alleviate winter boredom with fun things for them to do – cabbage tetherball treats such as melon, zucchini, or cucumber to peck at, flock blocks, or handfuls of scratch for them to eat.

Can you entice them to go out each day, even for a brief spell? Sometimes, a shoveled area with straw or hay is thrown down enough to get them outside.

I will often throw some fresh straw and scratch into the coop and let them do their thing – it gives them something to take their minds away from anti-social habits.

If you suspect one of the ladies may be unwell, give her a good check over. If you feel the need, you can isolate her in ‘sickbay,’ but in doing so, you may make her problems worse.

Re-integrating her could become a real problem for you and her. I will do everything I can to avoid separating her from the flock because it can cause issues further down the road.

Obviously, if she is severely picked on, she will need to be isolated for her own safety.

If you plan on chicks in early spring, she may have to go in with them for successful integration.

The only real solution to overcrowding is either to thin the flock or expand the room they have somehow.

Suppose it’s possible to move some of the hens to separate quarters. That would be ideal. I would move the hens lower on the pecking order so they can have a break from the bully girls.

This will also re-set the pecking order in both camps, so for a brief period, you may see some squabbling as they get settled in their new positions.

It is not ideal but may save some of the lower hens from a miserable winter.

Chicken Bullying

Extra Steps to Stop Chicken Bullying by Your Hens

Bully Hen Diversion Techniques

We have already mentioned some diversion therapies above, but what happens if you see the bullying happening in front of you?

I have used a water pistol in the past. A well-aimed squirt to the offender as she pecks at her flock-mate can stop her in her tracks.

This repeated over time will stop the behavior, but you will need to spend a lot of time observing and dealing with these behaviors.

Another trick that has been used successfully is the ‘pebble can.’ Get an old tin can, fill it about 1/3 full with pebbles, and tape shut.

Make sure it is well taped!

When you witness bad behavior, shake the can vigorously. The hens will all stop what they are doing to see what the hideous noise is!

This gives the victim time to move and also stops the bully hen by distracting her. I haven’t used this one, so I can’t say how successful it is, but it sounds like a good idea.

Upping your game

So Ms. Bossy has not taken the hint – what now?

There is a product out there called ‘pinless peepers.’

They are something like sunshades for chickens… with a subtle difference; they cannot see what is in front of them!

These ‘glasses’ stop the chicken from seeing what is directly in front of her.

She can see to the sides, can do the normal things chickens do except pick feathers!

Many folks have used them and have been delighted at the results. You can buy a pack of six for around $15.00.

Some companies recommend that you use a special pair of pliers to apply them, but others state that soaking them in warm water or leaving them in the sun for a while makes them malleable enough to apply.

The peepers fit into each nare of the beak and are held in place by the beak.

Last Resort: Jail!

The ultimate punishment – chicken jail! If your aggressive hen will not be reformed gently, she needs to do some hard time.

A separate cage away from the ladies but somewhere they can see each other is perfect.

How much time will depend on the offender of the chicken bullying?  Some take the hint and can be returned to the flock after a couple of days, but others may be determined not to be reformed.

This exercise resets the pecking order. Life goes on without her in the flock, and everyone adjusts accordingly, so when she is returned to them, she has to start all over again from the bottom up.

The average ‘jail sentence’ is 3-7 days, but some will need more time in the ‘clink.’
Every once in a great while, I hear of a hen that refused to be reformed and ended up being given away.

This really is the last chance for her – perhaps being in a new flock intimidates them enough to make them behave; I don’t know, I have never had to do this.

What if The Rooster is The Bully?

From time to time, a rooster can be the biggest bully in the coop.

If your hens are getting beaten up, it might just be that he is a little too aggressive with his mating processes.

Hens that become injured from an overeager roo may lose feathers, contract infections in open wounds, or even become severely stressed out.

If your rooster needs to chill, you can try separating him for a short time to see if your hens recover from a rough rooster and the stress he has caused.

You can then try to reintroduce him to the flock.

In many cases, he will return to his old ways. In this case, you can consider de-spurring your rooster.

Hopefully, regularly maintained spurs would cut down on injuries incurred during mating.
Unfortunately, a rough rooster may need to be culled or given away to a new flock.

When roosters are aggressive toward hens, there isn’t much that you can do to change their behavior, but it’s always worth a try.

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Run Chicken

  • Works Rain or Shine so you don’t have to let them out in inclement weather.
  • Go ahead and get those extra hours of sleep or go on vacation, our door has you covered.
  • Protect your Chickens from Predators with our self-locking feature

Our Choice of Treats for Our Chickens

Happy Grubs: More Calcium Than Mealworms

  • Increase Egg Production
  • Stronger Egg Shells
  • Healthy Feathers

Summary on Chicken Bullying

We have given you some options here to stop your feathered bully from plucking her flock mates naked!

As we mentioned, space is all-important. Provide enough space, darkened hiding spots, boxes, etc., so the victim can find a peaceful place to sit.

Also, ensure there are sufficient feeding and drinking stations for the ladies.

The pinless peepers certainly sound effective, are painless, and seem to be relatively easy to apply – they may be a great solution for you.

We hope that your girls will live in peace and harmony together, and you won’t have to resort to any of these tactics, but at least you now have some ideas of what is available should you have chicken bullying.

Have you ever had a bully hen – how did you manage her? We would love to hear about your solutions in the comments section below…

Read Next: 20 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Chickens.

Chicken Bullying

99 thoughts on “Chicken Bullying: How to Stop Them Pecking Each Other

  1. I have an old goose that absolutely will not tolerate hens pecking each other.
    He runs at the aggressor and pins them down if they don’t stop. Makes this chore easy for me!

  2. Something you did not mention was the stew pot. My grandparents raised chickens and on occasion had bullies. If isolation didn’t work the first time the bully went into the pot! Problem solved! It was one of the realities of farm life where animals were raised for food rather than as pets.

    1. I have a aggressive chicken and she also goes after my roosters. I tried a time out caught her eating feathers. Didn’t work my husband won’t kill it and I can’t find anyone to take it. What do I do. She refused to eat or drink.

        1. I have a similar problem. The exception my foster will peck them when he is eating special food out of the dish. The hens get it. But the one hen blocks the door to the coop and won’t let him in.
          They are all 6 months old. We are new to this please help.

  3. I had a huge problem I had one hen that was extremely aggressive. (6 Rhode Island Reds) constant fighting in the coop (designed for 12) Put colored ty wraps on their feet (couldn’t tell them apart) watched and found the guilty party. Isolated her for a while, went to the MSPCA and adopted a Rooster. when I re introduced her she went right after the rooster and he put her in her place. haven’t had any bullying since.

  4. Is it ok to purchase chicks in different weeks (not all breeds available at once) and if so, what would be the maximum spacing (in weeks) that would be acceptable? We are looking at a 3 week differential between the first purchase and the last…good or bad?
    Do chicks have a pecking order?

    1. Hi Gary,
      It will depend on the breed type, as well as the individual personality of the hens. I would recommend no more than 3 weeks difference in age. You should be OK providing you don’t get a particularly mean hen!

    2. I bought chicks about that much time apart and the two youngest still get pecked at around the face when all they are trying to do is perch at night or share in the activity of scratching. It’s very frusterating and I hate the sound they make when they get bit! I added another perch but they still insist on squishing together

  5. Excellent article!!
    I do have a bit of a bully hen – but I only have TWO chickens. The aggressor is the “mom” of the victim. Mom is approximately 3 years old and baby is 14 months (came from a fertile egg purchased when broodiness set in). The bullying is random and looks like it is “for no reason.” These girls are loved, have plenty of space – mostly free ranging, the “victim” is quite a bit larger than the bully – but the bully has skills!. I currently have them separated as the bullying escalated to feathers being lost and the bully is jumping on the back of the victim. Am so concerned that the situation will not resolve, and I will have to re-home my beloved older girl – it’s heart breaking.
    Any suggestions as to how to stop the bullying when there are only two chickens?
    Do I need to add a chicken? Do I keep them separated forever? (Not very easy!)
    I am going to try the water pistol – but if there are any other ideas PLEASE let me know!!Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Kelly I know it’s been a while but how are your hens getting on now. Ilike yourself I had two hens. one passed two months ago.
      I’m trying to find her a friend, she is very aggressive and won’t accept any hen it’s heartbreaking to watch her attacking them.
      I have had three hens from the farm at separate times they all had to go back as they are petrified of her.
      I’ve integrated two hens to her in the passed and all was well.

      1. We have got some worms from the garden and put them in the run, it has distracted the bully and made a little ten minute free-for-all where they have been tako g worms from each other and frolicking about – seems to give them all equal confidence to confront each other and made the 3 more cohesive as a flock ?

    2. I am in the same position as you. I have 2 rescue chickens and one is pecking the other ones feathers out, her legs, breast and bottom are bare. I’ve tried separating them but the bullying didn’t stop when I put them together again. I’ve tried a spray also a purple antiseptic spray to hide the sore parts. Nothing is working! They have plenty of free space and distractions, I find it so upsetting!

  6. My hens have gotten along since day one until this past week. Two hens have decided to bully my polish top hat. I have no idea why. As soon as day breaks, they go after her. She is becoming fearful and trying to hide in corners of the run but they go after her. I have isolated her during the day and put her back at night but as soon as they see her, the bullying begins. I’ll try separating the bullies instead. The run is huge so it’s not a space issue and everyone is healthy. Not sure what triggered this behavior. Any thoughts?

      1. I have 3 hens that gang up one. It is also not a space issue. We put the victim in her own coop for the past 2 months beside the 3. She wants to be with them and bc of that hasn’t layed any eggs. EVeryday I only let her out and she stays right by them and eventually they will try to get at each other. When I let them free range they all go after her again. She stays away from them when they are all out but also loves to go back in the big coop when they’re out. Out of ideas. I really want her to start laying again since she’s in her prime and just want her to be stress free. I tried putting apple cider vinegar in her water but that doesn’t work either.

          1. try the pinless peepers, found them on ebay, work great! Take effect immediately, and are inexpensive. Use helper when you put them on wrap chicken in towel, I found it easier to put them on without pliers.Have 9 chickens, 3 are wearing peepers and we have PEACE in the coop…..

    1. After 4 years, one of my hens has started attacking another hen. She’s doing nothing (on the low end of the pecking order) but the bully jumps on her at any given opportunity. She pecks at other chickens but she really has it in for this one and it’s more of an attack. I’m going to see if separating her will take her down a notch

  7. Could anyone please tell me how to stop a silky rooster and a frizzle rooster from fighting? I swear they will kill each other if given the chance. I tried letting them go for a few minutes but they just won’t stop no matter what. Any advise would be appreciated. Thankyou

    1. Roosters can & do kill each other. We know.
      How many hens do you have?
      More than likely they are fighting over hens!
      We have learned that we need 10-12 hens per Rooster! (or more).
      If you don’t have that many hens, & want to keep both rooster, we Strongly recommend dividing your flock into 2 separate houses.
      Now one rooster goes his way with his flock, & the other the other way. All are free range.
      It is not easy. If either one is feisty towards you or any person, it is time to move that rooster on. Most Deffinitely Time.!!!!!!!!

  8. Once pecking starts for whatever reason, is there a successful cure. I get through pots of Sudocrem. Chickens will peck at anything red so my latest idea, not tried and tested yet, is to stir some brown food colouring into the Sudocrem.
    I will post results but any suggestions are welcome.

  9. Hey there, I am new to this chicken thing. We have 7 chickens all a variety, purchased at the same time (2/17). We have a Rhode island red now recently in the last three weeks has been pecking at the others until they bleed/pull out feathers. We have isolated her which seems to help, but once introduced back she goes back at them. We placed them all out in the coop run and she ran from the opposite corner and continued to peck until bleeding. Please help, my husband is over her….

    1. We are having the exact same problem with our RI red. The “chicken glasses” / blinders have been, unsurprisingly, useless with her; that breed is known to be a poorly socialized one.
      The bigger problem here is that we have an Americana who was at the bottom of the pecking order initially but who appears to mimic the red; as soon as we isolate the red, the Americans takes over.
      We currently have the red isolated in a kennel in the coop and leave the Americana in the coop when we let the rest of the flock out. Will report back after this week of time-out. If all else fails, I have a great coq au vin recipe that goes great with an ornery red.

  10. Hi,
    I have 6 girls & these last few weeks 5 of them take it in turns pecking the one hen. I have purchased the “glasses” & obviously the pecking /bulling has stopped but all 5 of them have stopped laying. Will they start to lay again ?

    1. I would give them a little more time, but if they still do not lay try removing the glasses and see if the pecking persists. How much room do they have? Have you tried giving them something to distract them? Hanging compact disc, etc?

      1. Hi Clare,
        They have plenty of room. They have a mirror, ladder & extra perches. I hang cabbage ‘s up for them along with 3 feeding stations & 2 water stations.
        I will leave them a while long & see what happens.
        Thank you for your advice.

    2. Leave the glasses on. Ours quit laying for a bit but have all returned to normal.
      The obsessive feather picking stopped for all but the biggest bully. We’d removed blinders from those at the bottom of the pecking order but that just allowed the one at the top of the blinderless pecking order to bully the others in her order, effectively creating two pecking orders. If I had to do it again, I’d identify the bully and start with blinders on her.

  11. I have had a massive rat problem at my house over the past 3-4 months. I have had intervention and now have rat baits all over the place which are beginning to work but in this time, my 3 chickens (all regular 1 egg a day girls) have gone off the lay. Everyday or 2 I get one egg. I have just had a better enclosure made to try to keep them safe from harassment but now one of the girls is being bullied and in two days is nearly bald. There is enough space for them all and I can’t work out which of the other girls is the bully. Can you give me any tips (apart from the above info relating to boredom, which is useful). I can see to separate the bullied one, would probably open her up to more bullying in the long run. Also any advice on how to get them back on the lay?

  12. I’m house sitting & one of the hens had been badly plucked before I got here, she had spiky new growth but yesterday I found her dead & this morning there is absolutely nothing left. Remind me not to die in a chicken coop.

  13. Hi,
    We’e had four Rhode Island Reds for just over a year. They have a large run with trees, bushes, a chicken swing, regular greens, grit, tennis balls…pecking started when our bully hen got broody and it’s now epidemic. All four hens are pecked to some degree and it’s severe – the worst affected is entirely plucked underneath, the head of the pack has a bald area where her tail feathers begin. We have tried everything. Pinless peepers, deterrent spray, toys. Not aware of any stress they’ve experienced. The strange thing is, we hardly if ever see it happening although we have used a spray of water on occasion. They’re still laying and otherwise seem very happy but it’s terrible to see. We’ve considered giving up and dispatching but that seems unfair when they’re otherwise happy and laying. Any advice will be gratefully received!

    1. You can try cage isolations where they cannot reach eachother but have to live with eachother. One of them though is most likely causing the issue, can you identify that one specific and keep her in caged isolation?

    2. Rhode Island Reds are great layers but notoriously aggressive. In our most recent flock (of 6), I thought I’d solve that problem by getting just 1 RI red, hoping she’d integrate. Nope. She’s the biggest bully in the flock. It’s especially pronounced because the other breeds are sweet (black star, buff Orpington, and cinnamon queens, which are the product of RI Red roosters and RI White hens). This is the last red I’ll own – the cinnamons lay just as often and have that sweet buff temperament.

    3. Ive tried everything that has been recommended here for my RI red bully and now jail as last resort. If this doesn’t work she’s dinner. She has terrorized the majority of the flock for no reason and no rehabilitation technique has worked yet. It’s really frustrating

  14. Is there an essential oil that would repel the chickens that are doing the pecking if you spray it on the victims?

    1. Blue Kote spray I used when my Orpingtons head was a bald bloody mess. It turned her blue so supposedly the chickens won’t instinctively peck at the red. They still treat her like a red haired step child.

  15. I am one year into chickens now. Inherited a big red and a little hen both four by now. The red got sick and passed so we bought two buff Orpingtons not adults yet. Made the mistake of just adding to the enclosure with coop. The younger nearly died the first day from head trauma. Fortunately I took her out treated and she’s fine now. Her big sis is locked in the coop. The 4 yr old has a laying box attached on top and free run of the enclosed area. I returned the young bird last night to her sis and now she is being chased away from food and water. Will these birds ever learn to live together? I’m almost ready to just let em out of enclosure and fend for themselves.

    1. My Orpingtons have started to lay now and I have tried opening the coop to the run, thus allowing the four year old access to the coop and now healthy orpington sisters. The old bird immediately attacks any bird in the coop, upstairs or down, no reason, plenty of food, water, space, worms, lettuce.
      Today I put my dogs crate in the run and will be isolating the old bully. The Orpington are too big to be locked in the coop. They need the run. They are the sweetest birds, I just love them.
      The mean old chicken bully can stay in chicken jail.

      1. Continuing saga. We have had to keep the bantam hen in jail for weeks. Any contact with the young adult Orpingtons, either one, and she aggressively attacks. I am actively trying to rehome the bantam.

  16. Hello! I am embarrassed to tell anyone that I am losing sleep over a a 6 month ameraucana chicken but I know y’all get it. Soooo, I have 3, 6 mos old hens that have been raised together since chicks. A week and a half ago, my 5 year old son closed the coop door on one of their legs. She is getting stronger and putting more weight on her leg but is still limping but is still very mobile. Yesterday evening, I caught her and another going at it, puffing up their feathers and pecking each other violently. At first, I thought the bully was the healthy chicken but the instigator seems to be the injured hen. I have now separated her from the other two but when I try to introduce them to see if they are past their issues, she goes back at it. We have to leave for Europe in two weeks and this needs to be remedied quickly! Any advise?

    1. How long is the pecking taking place? The pecking order will commence, if it doesn’t lead to serious injury I will let them sort it out.

  17. Hello, I have a Orpington names chewey. She is by far the sweetest chicken I own. She follows me around and comes on command but she absolutely hates our chicks. We cannot let them be together or she attacks them. I am not sure what to do. They sleep in the same coop, but with a wooden divider. She even attacks them while free ranging. She has always been top of the pecking order but this has been going on for weeks! What can I do ? Thanks , lily.

  18. Hi there, so I had 8 originally (cinnamon queens they were my babies had them from 8 weeks old) that all came from the same woman. I lost 5 in a week due to different wildlife predators, one to a stray dog on our property, one to a fox, chicken just disappeared no sign of where it went, then 3 over the next 2 days to evil raccoons. The coons have been caught and the chickens were out in our outer house till we were able to get their housing resituated. So I was able to get 3 more to add to my 3, the 3 originals are about15 weeks the new girls are like 17-18 weeks. Now 1 of the original 3 is bullying the others. Like pecking and jumped on ones back earlier. I had a talk with her, like seriously a ‘were all family now’ kind of talk. Today is Sunday and we’ve only had the new ones since Friday. I know it is both a new flock mate/losing flock, especially that many to predators in 4 days time. But I’m not sure how to get her to stop. I’m thinking maybe a bit of isolation to let the other girls get comfy in their new space. They are hiding g under the stairs and will only come eat if that bully one is busy scratching and like over there away from them completely. Does isolation sound like maybe it would be best to let them get used to their new home?

  19. We have seven chickens. We came home and found one all bloody, so we separated her and cleaned her up. After a week we tried to reintroduce her to the coop, but she started attacking another chicken, and then three of them attacked her. We separated her again, tried again and the same thing happened. She is the smallest hen and clearly the weakest, but keeps trying to attack and then gets hurt. Not sure what to do with her. We live in a city and roosters aren’t allowed…

    1. Have you tried the cage introduction method where you place her in a cage in the run where they have no choice but to accept her?

      1. I am new to the chicken thing but loving it.. I have 1 rooster and 4 hens. They were given to us because someone was moving and didn’t know where. Where we live it is just getting warm weather so they are now going outside free range. I have a mixture of chicken ? I do know I have 2 Rode Island Reds, but everyone gets along my reds are not the top of the pecking order by any means… as of right now every one is happy and healthy ? ☺ ❤ .. My rooster ? is a little mean to people (not me) I carry a broom and he is very respectful of it. ??.. love this website, so much great information for a beginner like my husband and I.. Thank you!!

  20. Hi. I have 4 5 month old hens who have gotten along well since I got them at 6 weeks old. About a month ago the Buff Orpington started pecking the smallest Easter Egger. I thought it was the pecking order. Next thing I know she’s got bald spots and was bleeding. I put on blu-Kote and separated her for a couple of days. When I put her back the buff started in again. My other two get along well with all of them. So I let the injured one live with the other two in the 6×12 run and the buff lives in a 4×6 run. They can see each other but can’t interact. Will she ever leave the runt alone? Or will she always need to be separate? Thanks!

  21. I have 6 chickens that are one year old all bought together. Today out of the blue they are bullying one.. the smallest. One Juno’s on her back then they all start pecking her.. feathers are flying! She is scared and pacing back and forth. I read the article and went out with s squirt gun. It seemed to help, but we shall see. When I separated them from her she immediately started eating and drinking. They obviously were keeping her in the hen house and not allowing her to eat. I feel so bad for her and I’m afraid to leave them alone with her?

  22. I have 3 chickens. When I go outside to feed them 2 of my chickens start chasing around the other chickens and pecking her. So now that chicken(the one who is getting bullied) is so afraid to even get near them.

    1. This will subside over time, right now its pecking order to establish the order and who eats first or with whom.

  23. We have 11 hens and want to take 2 camping with us for 2 1/2 days. Would it disrupt the pecking order when we bring them back? One is our sweetest and oldest hen who now is at the top of the Pecking order and the other is her yearling who’s in the middle of the flock. Would it be better to take the 2 lowest hens or not at all?

    1. I don’t think it would disrupt the pecking order given it’s a pretty short amount of time.

      1. I had an interesting (?) experience today I’d like some feed back on. I have 10 chickens, 5, 11 months old and 5 , 6 months old. I followed all the suggestions about introducing the young one and all went well. They are all laying. They live in a 20×30 run during the day and sleep together in one of those coop kits that everyone hates. They have free choice as to getting up and going to bed, although I’m usually around when that happens.
        Here’s my question! We have a lot of new weeds springing up around our 5 acres in all the bald spots. I thought it might be interesting to put a few of them out in a portable pen and let them dine on fresh from the ground dandelions and scratch to their hearts content. I put 4 of them in the pen practically touching their run. They did scraps down peck, but seemed unhappy/anxious at being out of the pen. I left them on it for about an hour, then put them back in their run. I was surprised by the amount of chasing, pecking and feather pulling that went on , whole flock involved, for about 20 minutes. Should I continue with my weed experiment, or stop already?

  24. One chicken keeps chasing the others out of nest box. If they go to lay, she runs in the coop and chases them out.

  25. I am in the process of reintegrating a hen into my 5 hen flock of just sisters. She is one of the sisters, I had to remove her for a month as she got attacked by a predator, got her wing torn off, and needed surgery. I kept her in the run in s seperate crate for 2 weeks to help her see the flock again, then I removed the 2 more aggressive hens for a few days while she reestablished himself with the other nicer hens, still though, the aggressive hens are still picked on their sister. What can I do? I’m worried they will hurt her more severely. I added more food and water so they can’t scare her away from the only one. The aggressive hens basically chase her up into the coop and she stays there all day. What should I do????

  26. I have a aggressive chicken and she also goes after my roosters. I tried a time out caught her eating feathers. Didn’t work my husband won’t kill it and I can’t find anyone to take it. What do I do. She refused to eat or drink.

  27. I have six chickens and one is older than the others. I did have more but Mr Fox got them in the spring. They were all fine until last week. Now the five are seriously bullying the older hen. They are chasing her all around the garden (they have full access to the garden) and they have pecked her feathers out. She looks exhausted and I’m concerned that if I don’t do something, they will kill her. Any help very much appreciated. Thank you

  28. When you place Ms Bully in jail, do you keep her away from the rest or within the same area, just confined?
    Also, what happens at night? The prisoner stays in jail or is allowed to roost with the rest?
    I have a bully that is terrorizing another hen (4 total.) I thought of jailing her in a dog crate inside the run, visible to the rest. Not sure – is that a good jail?

  29. As of now, we haven’t had any issues with hens being rude. However, our big issue is with one of our roosters just about attacking our white lace black polish hen. We’ve had to separate the polish for her own safety. Curious if these techniques could work for a rooster?

  30. How can I figure out which one is the bully. Found one of the smallest ones with all of her tail feathers missing and a raw spot about the size of a 50 cent piece.

  31. We have 6 hens that are about 2.5 years old. The dominant one was a White Rock with a Rhode Island Red next in the line up. About a week ago the WR was sequestering herself far from the other hens, seemingly not eating much and then found her almost exclusively roosting in the unused nesting box. Being inexperienced, we assumed she was ill and decided to bring her inside as many others had suggested. A couple of days after moving her into our house (contained in a very large dog crate) she was no longer lethargic and was eating and drinking.
    We brought her back outside after 4 days and within seconds, the RIR started pecking at her. We separated them and then less than a minute later the RIR attacked her and climbed on her back and started pecking her head. We immediately brought the WR back into the house.
    We are now wondering if the WR was never really sick but had suddenly been removed as the leader and was now at the bottom of the pecking order. Her behavior that we thought was due to illness was actually her reaction to being bullied by the RIR.
    My question is two fold. Can the pecking order change so dramatically and so quickly? I’ve read through this article and other comments and have decided to remove the RIR and bring her inside for 2 or 3 days. How successful do you think this isolation will be in returning some type of “normal” pecking order to the flock and eliminating the very aggressive/physically harming pecking?
    Thank you for your advice!!

  32. I have 9 Plymouth Barred Rock hens and a rooster. They were all raised together and have gotten along fine. They have a large coop, large covered run, plus access to a mobile pen (I can’t let them free range fully because of predators in our rural area) that is moved frequently. They have plenty of indoor and outdoor perches, get lots of treats, have a swing, and explore new territory at least once a week, so they shouldn’t be bored. Recently two of the largest hens started getting the feathers pulled off of their backs in the saddle area. I never see who is doing it. I thought maybe the rooster was mounting them too often, but he seems to treat all the hens pretty equally. I can’t figure it out, and now both of these hens have a naked spot on their backs. I’ve even gone out when they are going to roost at night to make sure nobody is on the floor getting bullied, but all is quiet. My last resort before putting bits on all of them is to spray their bald spots with no peck, but it bothers me I can’t figure out what is going on.

  33. Last night at feeding time, I was missing a hen. When she heard the scratch, she came out of the coop with her rear end dragging. She tried to eat and the others would attack her. She would just stay squatted down and let then go at her. OF course I shooed them off but it continued, so I removed her for the night to make sure she was ok. Next morning, she was up and moving and just fine, tail back up. So the afternoon, I put her back in the run. She immediately dropped her rear end down and the other hens came over, grabbed her by the comb and started in in her again. I shoed them and it happened again. She didn’t even try to get up and move. She just sat there very submissive. I put her back in the wire cage and a hen tried to attach her through the cage. I am at a loss. My hens range from 5 to 2 years old so they have all lived together peacefully until last night. They have a large coop and run to hang out in, so plenty of space. I cannot let them free roam because of our dog. IF I can’t get the situation under control, I will have to get rid of her. I am afraid they will kill her. Suggestions?

  34. Hello all, I am new at this. I know this is a post about bullies… But what about self harm? I recently bought 4 (what appear to be 1-2 week old) chicks to be back yard chickens. three of them seem to be fine/normal. But one of them shows signs that something is wrong. I believe prevention is key so I like to catch things early on. the chick in question “Mosha” Started this behavior about 3:00pm the second day having the chicks. I keep them in the closet between 80 and 95 degrees right now as there are a lot of predators in the neighborhood. She would pick at her wing to the point off flipping herself over and screeching as in pain. I separated her as soon as I noticed the other chicks repeating the behavior. the pickling, flicking, and chirping are constant. She does eat and drink, though it doesn’t seem like much idk.. maybe I’m just worrying too much. I saw things about people using little cups as cones, Mosha said NOPE!.. Frustrated I looked for more info. There seems to be very little on this topic. Anyways… I was shown bag balm… Thinking this might stop it for good I put a copious amount on each wing. (WORSE IDEA EVER) I left her alone to lower stimulation. She was going kind of crazy when I left. When i got back (maybe 30 minutes later) I saw she was just about covered in the stuff from the top of her neck to her tail feather.. I felt sooooo horrible… I tried to wash her with dawn, didn’t help much. She is still kind off cover in it. Her feathers are matted and I worry about her. I guess my question is what do I do? Has anyone else dealt with this before? Also I have Fast Orange Pumice hand cleaner with no solvents, would this maybe take off the Bag Balm or is it not safe to use on animals?

  35. I have a buff wyandotte hen, named Catherine, who is the victim of 3 of my other hens. It started with one black Minorca, Stephanie, who would go after her for no apparent reason. Stephanie is a pretty much top ranking hen and I would alternate days locking them up separately. It seemed to work for a while until 2 other hens, another black Minorca and an Americana, started chasing Catherine and hen Stephanie joined in again. Now I have Catherine locked up, or the other three locked up together. This aggressive behavior happens inside and outside the coop and they have plenty of room to run, I have 9 acres. They are all about the same age, maybe 5 years old. If anyone has any other ideas of how to make them get along, it would be very appreciated.. Thank you.

  36. I am new to owning hens. I had two hens (australorps) who were given to us (approximately 2 years old) and had grown up together and did very well. sadly, one of them died only a week after we got here. We were very concerned that it would be bad for the surviving one to be alone, so we found another hen (6 month old silkie/americauna mix) to keep her company. I understand this was a rookie mistake and we should have brought two in who were closer to the older hens size and age, but we didn’t know and had few options . We probably introduced them physically too soon and the older hen attacked and hurt the younger one (not TOO badly). So we separated them in one coop with a wire door between them so they could see each other and be close but the older hen couldn’t harm the younger one. Now, we allow them to be together while we supervise a few hours a day and they are mostly ok. The older one still bullies the younger one sometimes. They are co-existing better, though. There are two roosting areas and they choose to roost separately. Is there any remediation we can do to smooth things over? Or will it just take time?

  37. I currently have an issue with a huge bully in our coop. Even our large Rhode Island Red rooster wont confront her when shes on a rampage. The other night I had to remove the poor girl she has been tormenting from the coop after noticing a big open wound in the back of her neck where all of her feathers have been pulled out. This poor girl had been through a lot as she is also our roosters favorite and when he was younger he was not so gentle with his growing spurs. I’m concerned that now the bully will just pick another hen to pic on. It might be time to try putting her in jail.

  38. I’m struggling with feather loss in my flock. 4 hens and 3 are balding down their back. I’ve tried everything except separating the chooks and think I need to take the one away and isolate her for a few days. How likely do we think it is that she’s the problem?

  39. I need to know what to put on the bald spots that will help heal as well as stop the pecking hen from pecking her. Thanks

  40. We have 4 chickens and all 4 of them seem to peck at each other, they all have bald spots on their rear ends. How would I solve this without having to isolate all 4 of them? Also is there anything I can put on them to help their skin?

  41. My roosters (nuggets and Abby )keep jumping on my hens and this stresses them out they are loosing lots of feathers and without feathers the roosters grip on their skin which leaves hens seursly damages.we love our hens as well as our roosters ,my husband wants to get rid of one but both are quite charming and kid friendly,please help

  42. I have a hen that is being picked on. I have read the article. Great information, and quite a view comments. But nothing exactly what i have going on.
    I have twelve chickens total, two silkie roosters. One obviously more dominant and keeps all but the two silky hens as his girls. The one being picked on is an Easter egg/mix. She has always been slow, sweeter, calmer, and more timid than the rest. I am not sure how it started. If the rooster was mating with her two much or jealous that she allowed the other rooster to mate with her.
    Now the dominant rooster seems to want her dead. I think he has been encouraging other hens to come and attack as well.
    I have taken the rooster out but the hens still attack her. We are putting peck no more on her.
    We have taken her out but she is lonely. The other rooster is nice to her but wants to mate and her head is so sore he is hurting her unintentionally.
    If I isolate the dominant rooster for a while. Will the hens stop bullying her.
    I think I will buy peepers.
    But any more advice please.
    The roosters still protect them, peepers won’t help.

  43. Help! I have 4 hens: An Australorp, Sapphire Gem, Buff Orpington, and a Silver Laced Wyandotte.
    The Wyandotte and the B.O. are the babies of the family. But my SLW has been getting pecked at by the Australorp, (Who is the leader of the flock) and the BO which surprises me because usually the babies get picked on together. But my SLW is getting hurt to the point where her comb is bleeding and she has feathers ripped out.
    I can’t figure out the problem!
    They have plenty of space, (we just expanded our backyard) their coop is HUGE!, and they seem to be getting plenty of calcium and protiens.

  44. I have a bantam who was a pair but when her roo mate died most of the other hens attack her😞 I got a new bantam pair hoping they would accept her. It seemed to work at first but now the new bantam roo is going after her. I’ve had to isolate her in a little cage, which I hate to do but otherwise she ends up hiding in a corner where they still peck her bloody!

  45. Thank you for this article- this is pretty much everything that I have been reading about when it comes to bully hens. It’s happening with my 13 week old chicks right now! I had to separate one, she was literally dragging some of the girls by their wings. She is in a smaller enclosure next to her families enclosure. I however wish that this article would mention bachelor flocks as opposed to “culling” a rooster. I have come to learn that Roosters on their own, when you Actually take your time to know them, are indeed very sweet and not the macho Roo that you encountered in your coop. Bachelor Flocks should be more popular!

  46. I had 4 hens. Around a year old, one of them began pushing the others around. Another developed pendulous crop which I’ve had to help by putting a supporter on her. So that is causing the bully to pick on her in a violent way. I tried all of the suggested remedies. They just cannot be together. So I divided them into two separate coops and pens. The bully was paired with one of the hens that is subservient to her. The other two get along well and do not show any signs of dominance. It’s been that way for a year now. However, recently the hen with the bully was killed by an unknown assailant. I think a neighbors dog. So now she is alone. She doesn’t show any signs of being stressed or lonely, but her usual comments to me have calmed down. (She usually has a lot to say) I’ve thought about giving her away to someone with a flock she could fit in with, but not sure if I will.

  47. I have been noticing the same issue with my flock of chickens. They seem to bully each other constantly, and it’s getting out of hand. I’m glad I stumbled upon this post, as I was starting to think it was just a normal part of having chickens. I will definitely try out some of these tips and see if they help reduce the pecking. Thank you for sharing!

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