What To Do If Your Chickens Don’t Get Along

Chickens just like people might not get along with each other, but what can you do if your chickens are not getting along? Whilst you can use them to make a tasty egg sandwich in the morning, one thing that will stand in the way of healthy delicious homegrown eggs are chickens that fight with each other.

Chickens that don’t get along can have an impact on well-being and egg production. If you’re dealing with ornery chickens, the best thing to do is eliminate stress and boredom, keep sick chickens out of coop, and sometimes, put mischievous hens in jail. 

There are several reasons why a chicken might not get along with the rest of the pack. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to handle ornery chickens.

We are going to discuss the reasoning behind chickens acting up and how to handle it before it starts wreaking havoc on your egg production.

What To Do When Your Chickens Don’t Get Along

It likely never crossed your mind that you would be dealing with chickens not getting along. It’s not like they are a bunch of elementary children. But the unfortunate truth is that chickens are known for having tremendous personalities. This can reflect in misbehavior, such as fighting amongst the chicken coop.

If you are noticing that fighting is a common occurrence in the chicken coop, it might be because your chickens aren’t getting along. You need to understand why this is happening before you can properly fix it. Here are some of the major reasons why your chickens might not get along and what to do about it. 

One reason is your chickens might be bored and are acting out by fighting for 20 different ways to keep your chickens happy & entertained check my post out.

Eliminate Chicken Stress

As a human, you know how difficult life can be when you’re stressed out. Too much stress and you’re sure to be a bit snippier than normal. The same is true for your chickens. The chicken is a creature of habit. Any sudden changes to their routine and they are likely to become stressed out. 

When a chicken becomes stressed out, you will notice an instant lack of egg supply. If the problem isn’t fixed, then the behavior can quickly become aggressive. 

6 Ways To Help Your Stressed Chicken

1.Ensure There is Enough Light In The Chicken Coop

Chickens are peculiar about their light. If they receive too little or too much light, their egg production will slow down. It can also cause unneeded stress in their daily lives.

A good rule of thumb to remember is that chickens need at least 12 hours of sunlight per day(see source). However, 14 to 16 hours of light is optimal. Lack of light might be why your chickens are so irritated, so to see the other reasons see my post here.

This can be a challenging number to hit during the winter months. You may need to use artificial light when the sun is not so prominent during the day.

But don’t have your coop always have light! Just like humans, chickens need dark to sleep, to know exactly how much light your chickens are getting and how to best give it to them see my post

2.Make Sure the Coop is the Right Temperature

Chickens are also picky about their temperatures. While chickens are fairly hardy and can withstand extreme temperatures, they prefer 70 to 75°F(21-23°C)(see article).

This is an easy number to obtain during spring, summer, and even Autumn/fall. During winter, you may need to take special precautions and invest in a warmer to keep your chickens stress-free.

Is your chicken coop insulated? To know how to coop your chicken coop ventilated and why it’s important take a look at my post.

3.Allow Proper Ventilation

Humidity makes chickens mad. With water vapor emitting from their breath and dropping consistently, a humid coop is almost guaranteed. To ensure that there is not unwanted humidity buildup in the coop, it’s best to ensure there is proper ventilation. 

To see why chickens need ventilation see this article, but do you even need proof? Imagine being stuck in a cooped room with many other people without air con or a fan? You can see your chickens problem.

4.Don’t Change Chickens Food

A change in a chicken’s food can be done in two ways – there either isn’t enough, or the food itself has changed. Once you find a food your chickens are happy with, it’s best not to change it. You also need to make sure there is an ample amount of food to keep all of the chickens happy.

There is an issue when it comes to food and chickens who do not get along. When chickens are fighting, they will block access to the lesser chicken(s). Make sure all of the chickens have access by adding more feeding stations throughout the coop.

Do your chickens have access to food and water at night? If your interested in why it’s important I discussed it in detail here.

5.Don’t Change The Chickens Location

Remember – chickens are creatures of habit. If you uproot them to a new location, for whatever reason, they are not going to be too happy. Sometimes there is no way around this. If a move must be made, then try and make the coop look and feel closest to “normal.” It shouldn’t take long before the chickens are happy with their new house.

Would you like it if someone completely redecorated your house without your input?

6.Offer Enough Room

Avoid overcrowding your chicken coop. This is a surefire way to end up with a stressed out and misbehaving chicken crew. Sometimes, it can even mean a coop that is not only not getting along but engaging in cannibalism and excessive pecking, too.

The best thing to do is to think of your chickens as being a bit fancy. They enjoy their space and want the luxury of being able to spread their wings and hop around the coop. You like your space yourself don’t you?

The easiest way to remember how much space a chicken needs is to remember this: every chicken should have 2 to 3 square feet inside and 8 10 square feet outside(see article). The more room, the better. Don’t be afraid to go above-and-beyond and offer a 5-star chicken resort they wish they could review on Yelp.

For a guide on how to make the best chicken coop for your chickens and what materials to use see my post.

How To Stop Chicken Boredom

  • Place a chicken roost in the coop
  • Buy a chicken perch
  • Give chickens leaves to play with
  • Add plastic mirrors throughout the coop
  • Give chickens toys to play with
  • Add a sandbox

When a dog gets bored, he chews up the furniture or digs holes in the yard. When a cat gets bored, he scratches the furniture. What does a chicken do when he gets bored? He starts acting out, especially with the chickens around him. 

Chickens might not get along simply because they are bored. They are looking for something to do, which might result in fighting. This is even more common during the winter months. Since chickens aren’t fond of the cold, they will stay inside and hide. This extended period of inactivity quickly ensues boredom, followed by bickering.

The good news is, there are plenty of ways to make sure your chickens are engaged and excited. Here are a few simple tips and tricks for chicken boredom-busting. Check my post here for 20 different activities your chickens can enjoy.

How To Stop Chickens Being Bored

  • Place a chicken roost in the coop. A chicken roost is essentially like a ladder. It offers an area for chickens to jump up and play. Since chickens love to jump up high and look around, a chicken roost is a simple solution for a bored hen. It’s fairly cost-effective, too, which means you’re breaking boredom on a dime.
  • Buy a chicken perch. Perching is a favorite activity for a chicken. You can make one yourself, but if you don’t have the time or skills, then buying one is just as good. This perch is less than $15, and chickens are sure to love it. 
  • Give them some leaves to play in. Your chickens are similar to any child as they love to jump into a pile of leaves! This is the easiest and cheapest method of busting boredom within the coop. Toss in some leaves, and they will have the time of their lives.
  • Add plastic mirrors around the chicken coop. Yes, your chicken is a bit conceited. He enjoys staring at himself all day, every day. To quickly add some excitement to the coop, simply hang mirrors around the coop. Make sure they are plastic as chickens love to peck.
  • Use fruits and vegetables to your advantage. Did you know that fruits and vegetables from your kitchen can make great chicken toys? You can hang an old cabbage, toss berries into their bed, or roll a half-sliced watermelon into their coop. See the above video for a more creative way to use fruits and vegetables in your coop!
  • Repurpose children’s toys. Have children in the home? They tend to outgrow toys quickly, but that doesn’t mean they should go to waste. Chickens can utilize plenty of children’s toys, including plastic kiddie gyms, balls, wind-up toys, and walking toys.
  • Add a sandbox to the coop. Yes, chickens like sandboxes, too. They enjoy playing in the sandbox while also using it to perform their beloved dust baths. 

How To Stop Chickens From Bullying

Separate and Help Sick Chickens

Chickens can tell when a member of the coop becomes ill. Their natural reaction is to run the chicken off. This is done to reduce the spread of the illness. While a natural reaction, it looks like the chickens simply aren’t getting along.

What should the owner do?

A sick chicken may appear lethargic, skinny, and unkempt. Learn how to tell If your chicken is skinny in my article, What To Do If Your Chickens Are Skinny. She may also have a sudden decrease or complete halt of egg production. If you believe there is a sick chicken amongst the coop, remove her immediately, and seek help from a professional. In the meantime, do the following:

  • Isolate the ill chicken. Remember – you don’t want this sick chicken being picked on by the rest of the pack. You also don’t want other chickens to get sick. Keep the sick chick isolated, and you shouldn’t see any type of pecking or bullying.
  • Provide plenty of water to the sick chicken. Just as a human or other animal needs to stay hydrated to regain strength and health, so does the chicken. Offer plenty of water in a nearby location that is easily found and obtained by the ill chicken.
  • Make sure the chicken is eating. A sick chicken might not have a great appetite. It needs to eat to get back to health, though. If he isn’t eating his normal food, consider offering him treats. Add garlic for the antimicrobial properties. Consider a bit of yogurt for the powerhouse of probiotics to increase gut health. 

Do your chickens poop in their drinking water? This can happen and it might be why they are getting sick, see my post here on how to stop the popping!

Use Diversion Techniques

Sometimes there is a bully hen amongst the coop. It has nothing to do with the temperature, overcrowding, boredom, or illness. He is just a jerk chicken. You might have to resort to some “non-traditional” methods, one of which is known as diversion.

Diversion can be implemented in two ways: the squirt gun technique or the loud noise technique. 

Watergun Technique

The water gun technique is self-explanatory. You will need to purchase a water gun. Nothing extremely fancy. A cheap, small squirt gun is all it takes. Fill it with water. When the bully hen is starting to act up, squirt him with water. This will stop him in his tracks.

Loud Noise Technique

Loud noises can also stop an ornery hen from persuing his bullying when you see the “bad guy” approaching the other chickens for a fight, sound off a loud noise. It shouldn’t be something simple, such as a bell. This is not likely to halt a chicken. Instead, consider filling a tin can with rocks, pebbles, or coins. Tape it shut and shake it when the chicken starts to attack.

Diversion techniques take time, effort, and consistency to achieve results. You will need to spend a good amount of time watching the chicken coop, so you are able to use the water gun or noisemaker when the chickens aren’t getting along.

Consider “Pinless Peepers”

Pinless peepers are a unique invention. With proper application, they stop a chicken from being able to see what is directly in front of them. They are still able to see through the sides. 

Why does this work for chickens who don’t get along? Because you can limit vision to the chickens who are more aggressive than others. By limiting their vision, you lessen the opportunity for them to strike.

As an added bonus, pinless peepers are very cost-effective. They are less than $15 on Amazon. The application may require a learning curve, but it is well worth it to restore peace in the pen. 

Place Bad Chickens in Jail

When you first brought your baby chicks home, you probably never thought you would end up as a correctional officer, too. But sometimes you have to get extreme to get your chickens to listen! 

Jailtime is the ultimate punishment for an aggressive chicken. And while it’s the last resort, sometimes it is necessary. Spending some time away from the other chickens can do a lot of good for the hostile hen. 

If you’re considering jail time, you will need to set up your chicken jail. This jail is simply a separate cage located away from the other chickens. Don’t make it so far that they can’t see the other chickens, though. You don’t want them to think they are getting away scot-free.

Does Jail Time Work?

Jailtime is an excellent last resort for a pugnacious chicken. Why? Because it allows the pecking order to reset. This is because life continues as normal within the coop.

When the ornery hen returns to the coop, she will have to start at the bottom and work her way back up. This takes quite a bit of time. If you’re lucky, she will understand that being overly aggressive and dominant will land her back in her “cell.”

How Long Should a Chicken Stay in Jail?

Most chickens will reform from their hostile ways and return to the coop after 3 to 7 days. That is not the case for every hen, though. Some may need to spend extra days in their solitary confinement before they learn their lesson.  

What Is Pecking Order In Chickens

Pecking order is the societal rank of individual fords within a unique flock, with stronger more dominant birders occupying higher ranks whilst submissive birds are lower in the pecking order.

How Does The Pecking Order Work

A chickens rank is done using a ranking system. The chickens will pay attention to a number of elements. The most important factors include:

  • The age of the chicken.
  • The chicken’s personality. 
  • How dominant the chicken is.
  • How ambitious the chicken is.

Once a chicken is selected, he is not guaranteed to be the “top bird” in the coop. Any chicken can take over control at any time. However, it is more common when a new hen joins the coop. 

A new chicken can try and gain the leader position by asserting themselves within the coop and becoming more dominant. On the outside, this sudden dominance can look like fighting, but it’s a natural part of the process for the chicken. 

This dominance ritual can cause a lot of noise with your chickens, to understand the 11 reasons why your chickens are so loud see my in-depth post on the topic.

How To Avoid Problems With The Pecking Order

When you see a sudden outburst of fighting and dominance amongst your chickens, you might worry that they aren’t getting along. You might think that you need to put an end to their behavior ASAP. So how can you tell when they are fighting to establish a leader, or if it’s something more?

The best way to tell the difference between the pecking order and actual fighting is the pecking order occurs quickly, and there will be no bloodshed. There should only be a few days where the chickens are trying to establish dominance. If the chickens are truly not getting along, it will be an ongoing issue that lasts over a week.

What If the Chickens Still Don’t Get Along?

If you can find the root of the problem, you can fix it. Sometimes it’s as simple as adding more light to the coop during wintertime. Other times, it requires more extensive methods such as chicken jailtime. 

If all else fails, you might need to give the hostile hen away. This is obviously a last resort, but sometimes it is necessary. This is especially true if you notice it is, more often than not, a single chicken causing all of the problems. 

Sometimes chickens don’t get along. This can be caused by several issues, from a lack of sunlight and ventilation to sickness and boredom. Finding the cause for misbehavior will help you to determine the best solution for your chicken coop.

Dane McManis

Dane started learning about farming while volunteering on a farm. Now he and his wife raise chickens, pigs, and ducks on their small farm with their two little girls.

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