Bullying In The Hen House

A few days ago, my hens were out in the garden enjoying the January sunshine, when I noticed that Bluebell had lost a shocking amount of vent feathers.

Bluebell has always been one of the more feisty members of the coup, so it’s very sad to see her looking so bedraggled and lack lustre.  On closer inspection, having ruled out a mite infestation, I suspect she’s moulting and generally feeling out of sorts. 

Why Hens Bully

Hens are renowned for picking on each other, especially if one is under the weather, and I think my hens have been reestablishing the pecking order.  These attacks seem to have occurred at night in the chicken coup.

How to deal effectively with the bullying

My Henkeeping Book suggests that if a bird is being bullied, the best remedy is to house it elsewhere in its own section of the coup.  As it’s January and below freezing this hasn’t been an option, so instead  I’ve moved Bluebell into a temporary new home at night.  

Nightly Routine

Once the hens have put themselves to bed in the coup at dusk, I’ve been going in and removing Bluebell and bringing her into the house.  

I’ve made her a temporary coup in our dog’s travel cage, and she’s sleeping quite happily in our unheated laundry with our labrador!   This is enabling her to get a good night’s sleep and I hope is encouraging her feathers to grow back.

Morning Routine

Every morning, before sunrise I’ve been bringing her back into the chicken coup while the other hens are still asleep and releasing them all out into their pen at the same time.   They’ve also been having lots of time out in the garden, and this seems to be preventing the most aggressive bullying.

Good News Update!

I’ve being doing this for four days and Bluebell has now been accepted back into the brood, and has returned to the coup at night.  However I’m going to continue to keep a close eye until her moult is over and she’s made a full recovery.

Happy Hen Keeping!

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