Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Bullied

I'm a little worried about Fleur,  my cuckoo marans hen.

She is one of  3 hens hatched last year.   She and her 2 step sisters (Sasha the Appenzeller, and Fayoumi the Fayoumi) were a happy little flock of 3.  When they were ready to lay, we introdiced them to our 2 existing girls (Gloria and Poppy, both Australorp x Welsh Black). 

Poppy had lived under the reign of terror from a b*tch of a bird called  Millie.  Millie was a bully, a relentlessly horrible, horrible bully.  At first, we thought she was just dominant,  but eventually we realised that she was just plain nasty.   I've never known a chicken like her before, or since.   Anyway, in the end we had to cull her,  and I wish I'd bitten the bullet and culled her earlier.

This has had a profound effect on Poppy.  When we introduced the 3 youngsters last year, Poppy was keen to make sure she didn't lose her place as number 2.    She wasn't evil like Millie, but she was determined.   In the many months since,  she has not accepted the 3 youngsters.    Unlike Millie, she doesn't seek them out to bully them,  but she does gven them a sharper-than-necesary peck if they ever get in her path.

Until she started moulting,   Fleur was mostly oblivious to Poppy's attempts at domination.   She got pecked, she jumped, she then carried on as though nothing had happened.  It was almost as though she was oblivious to the hen pecking attempts.

She spent most of her time with the other 2 youngsters, going round in their mini flock.  She also spent time with the older girls,  it didn't seem to occur to her that she was perhaps not welcome.

If I was feeding corn from my hand, she and Gloria would eat, and Poppy would not.   Poppy  - mostly - stopped pecking Fleur, but carried on with the other two.  It seemed to me as though Fleur was number 2, and Poppy was number 3.

And then the moult started.   Fleur moulted most quickly and most dramatically.  I suspect that she was the subject of pecking because of that;  I suspect the feather lost meant that, for =the first time, she really felt the pecks.  Then everyone else was moulting too, and the hormones made everyone crabby.

I noticed that Fleur seemed to be on her own quite a bit.  I saw that she was being henpecked by Gloria and Poppy.    And then I saw her running away squealing from Sasha.     And then from Fay.

She waits until the others go to bed before she goes in at night. 

She gets in the coop woth the big girls, and sits as far away from them as possible.  In the morning,  she stays in the coop until the others have been let out.

If they are shut in the run together, she eats and drinks in snatches, and runs away as soon as Sasha or Fay look at her.    I did see her rootling round in the Run next to Poppy and Gloria today, and my heart lifted .   A little later, she ran away when Sasha looked at her.

She looks healthy.  She's eating and drinking.  She's just completely lost her confidence.

I'm hoping that her new feathers will be in place before everyone elses, and I'm hoping tht she feels better then.

And I'm hoping she re-asserts herself.


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