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Hen Strange Behavior

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
We have a buff orp hen who has been acting strangely. For about a week she has been distant from the flock. She has been laying for about 2-3 weeks. The last few days, in the morning when they are let out to free range, instead of running out as fast as possible, she sticks around inside the coop. I assumed shes just sticking around to lay her egg. Today, she stayed in the coop a very long time. After laying an egg, she completely disappeared for several hours. Now that its getting dark, the whole flock went up to the coop, and she stuck around our house. I took her up to the coop and she refused to go in, just jumped on top. She got in a bit of a scuffle with our alpha rooster when I took her up there.

We have 5 hens and 2 roosters. I know that is not an ideal ratio but they get along well, there is minimal hen harassment, and they all have ample space to get away from each other. They have a 24/7 access 16×12 run, and a roughly 8×4 coop. They free range around 2 acres for 10-12 hours almost every single day.

My mother is very worried and I feel like she is fussing over something that's more like a like a teen rebellion stage. She eats and drinks and appears very healthy. Her crop and cloaca feel/look normal. Could this be a sign of anything? Should I be more concerned?
post #2 of 9

Hi! :frow 2 roos for 5 hens isn't less than ideal,  it's terrible. Can you provide a bit more info? Are these all BO's, all same age? It doesn't sound like "teenage rebellion" to me. It sounds more like I'm sick and tired of being bullied so I'll try to hide. Can you sit and watch the interaction for a while? What happens if you throw treats or scratch? That may help you interpret the flock dynamics. 

Walk gently on this earth. Do no harm. Laugh a lot at yourself. Be kind even when it's  hard.
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Walk gently on this earth. Do no harm. Laugh a lot at yourself. Be kind even when it's  hard.
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post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
They are all the same age. Roughly 6 months. They are an assortment of breeds, she is the only BO. There is also a leghorn roo, australorp roo, brown leghorn hen, two NHR, and a barred rock. The BR is often the first to approach food/scratch, followed by the NHR's. The roos typically stand back to let them get the first pick. When they are roaming the yard, they roost, scratch, bathe, eat bugs, etc. If one moves to a different area, they all follow; they are not too picky on who to follow. I am not very articulate on their flock order or recognizing anything like that. I don't feel like the two roos are bullying them much, but I may not be witnessing it or maybe I just don't realize that's what's happening.

Should I separate them somehow? We all like both roosters and would prefer to not get rid of one. I plan to get more hens as soon as possible. We are in the process of building a new, much larger coop, but our current coop can not handle many more birds, and I don't want to get more chicks now and have them end up being grown before the new coop is complete. Thanks for your help.
post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by owlflights View Post

They are all the same age. Roughly 6 months. They are an assortment of breeds, she is the only BO. There is also a leghorn roo, australorp roo, brown leghorn hen, two NHR, and a barred rock. The BR is often the first to approach food/scratch, followed by the NHR's. The roos typically stand back to let them get the first pick. When they are roaming the yard, they roost, scratch, bathe, eat bugs, etc. If one moves to a different area, they all follow; they are not too picky on who to follow. I am not very articulate on their flock order or recognizing anything like that. I don't feel like the two roos are bullying them much, but I may not be witnessing it or maybe I just don't realize that's what's happening.

Should I separate them somehow? We all like both roosters and would prefer to not get rid of one. I plan to get more hens as soon as possible. We are in the process of building a new, much larger coop, but our current coop can not handle many more birds, and I don't want to get more chicks now and have them end up being grown before the new coop is complete. Thanks for your help.

IMO. That says a lot. BO's are so docile. She's the only BO. Teenage roo's can be downright nasty. They will brutalize your 5 hens, they're just a little young yet. Do you plan to add 15 more hens and breed? Is there a way you could choose one friend for her and separate them in preparation or just separate the cockerels until the new coop is finished? Please keep us posted on how this plays out. We all learn from these threads. Thank you for posting.

Walk gently on this earth. Do no harm. Laugh a lot at yourself. Be kind even when it's  hard.
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Walk gently on this earth. Do no harm. Laugh a lot at yourself. Be kind even when it's  hard.
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post #5 of 9

Hmmm.... hard to say what's at play there.

 

It could have something to do with the cockerel/pullet ratio.

It could just be a pecking order thing, but I find it a bit strange that the alpha cockerel is scuffling with her.

I wonder if she is not submitting to the alpha, maybe she's aligned with the beta so the alpha is miffed.

 

You could try adding another roost slightly lower than the main roost.

 

You could try isolating the one of the cockerels and see if how changes the dynamics of the flock,

but that could cause problems upon re-introduction of the isolated cockerel.

 

I would strongly suggest you get rid of one, or both, of the cockerels.

They are lovely to have around, and often multiple males can work out, but it can cause problems in flock dynamic.

It's much easier to add an adult cockbird or another cockerel to the flock down the road than it is to sort your current problem.

 

It's really best to keep as few males as you need for reproduction in a flock....

.....or keep separate flocks in separate coops.

Sometimes they can free range all together if they have separate coops or a large enough coop and they work out the pecking order.

Tho a few folks with experience in managing them have kept multiple males.

 

Just a few thoughts.


Edited by aart - 10/5/15 at 4:36am

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for your advice. I've finally stopped being in denial about this. I'm going to get rid of our alpha. There's no point in trying to rehome him. I really am going to miss him, as arrogant, rude, and loud as he is. He really is a character to have around, and is a handsome roo, but it's certainly not worth having one of my favorite hens abused. I'm also going to order a few more orps to keep her company.

Today I was sitting outside with her (she usually comes to me when I'm outside) and the rest of the flock came over. I discovered missing feathers and an injury on her back, likely from being mounted too much. I went in for ten seconds and in that time the alpha had run her all the way around the house and crammed her under some sheet metal. He got a good kick. That was when I had it. I felt awful and angry that I had let it go on this long. She had probably been chased like this for awhile, and I had just not seen it, because he knows I'm higher than he is on the chain, and he won't do anything stupid in front of me.

I will separate her to let her heal, and my alpha Noodle (pictured in my icon) will probably be gone by Monday. sorry big guy. I hear him crowing now. :-(
post #7 of 9
Is there a way you can treat her wounds but leave her with the flock? Or maybe just cage her separate from the others but still in view of them? Reintegration of just one hen is tough. All the focus is on her and if she's really docile then she'll probably take quite a beating once you put her back in with the rest. Maybe you could separate her and a friend that won't pick on her? Then when you reintroduce them there will be twice as many "new" birds and it will take some of the attention off the BO.
post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by TalkALittle View Post

Is there a way you can treat her wounds but leave her with the flock? Or maybe just cage her separate from the others but still in view of them? Reintegration of just one hen is tough. All the focus is on her and if she's really docile then she'll probably take quite a beating once you put her back in with the rest. Maybe you could separate her and a friend that won't pick on her? Then when you reintroduce them there will be twice as many "new" birds and it will take some of the attention off the BO.

Agrees..I would just isolate the cockerel and see what happens, you might not have to isolate her at all.

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by aart View Post

Agrees..I would just isolate the cockerel and see what happens, you might not have to isolate her at all.

That's an even better idea.
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