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Thoughts on whats provoking Rooster to attack one hen

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 



What are the thoughts on Why is my rooster all of a sudden attacking one of my hens?


1 Rooster 4 Hens, all 1 year old, all been together since they were 1 day old - Leghorn X breeds


Rooster (named GT) is usually quite placid - very happy to have a cuddle with me every day and stays quiet until I decide to put him down - can be up to 15 mins or more by the time we've had a done the rounds of the garden and had our chat. He does his duties with the hens, but is quite attentive in his protective/eating/nesting duties...


My thoughts on to why he has turned on the one hen have been skimmed from posts I have read on these forums.


Hen is named El Pollo

Hen is molting 

Hen is possibly not laying 

Hen is otherwise eating and drinking


During the day - I let all free range and everyone goes about business as usual - except the El Pollo - says to herself. We pop her with the pack when we can and rooster shoos her away. We give her time with the other girls alone while GT is in the Chook Tractor so she doesn't loose touch with the hens too.


Night time - Rooster is in his own separate pen within the main chook run and all the girls are in their usual house - no problem with the girls allowing her in to sleep.


Morning - I let the rooster out and into a chook tractor so the girls can have peace and lay - except El Pollo who i think is not laying.



Will El Polo start laying again after molt?

How long does most usually last?

Any other suggestions as to how to manage? Not super-keen to get rid of rooster as he is otherwise quite gentlemanly....


Looking forward to your input.



post #2 of 12

 How old are they?


If she is going through her first adult moult, it could be that he is viewing her as sick and attacking her for that reason. Moulting makes them feel under the weather. Some cope better than others. Some feel sorry for themselves and isolate from the flock and others just don't seem to notice and just carry on as normal. On the other hand she could actually be sick. Chickens can hide it pretty well from us usually until they are very ill, but it is in the interests of the flock to reject sick birds so that disease doesn't spread, so it make that GT is protecting the flock from disease by attacking her.


Have a good look at El Pollo. Check her weight and condition.... is her keel bone well padded or sharp and protruding.... I appreciate that Leghorns are not particularly well built birds (not sure what yours are crossed with) but compare her with a similarly built chicken. If she is moulting, it might be helpful to increase her protein intake, perhaps with some meat scraps or scrambled egg or fish and mealworms. She sounds like she may need a bit of tlc.


Your management with isolating the rooster for part of the day is good but you might want to think about keeping him isolated until she is fully feathered.


The other possibility is that he has been over breeding her and she is stressed and depressed... that would explain feather loss when none of the others are. Your roo to hen ratio is on the high side and if they are under a year, the roos can be quite physically demanding on the hens.


I would also be a little wary of being so close to your roo. I would suggest that he is not a lap dog and treating him as such is possibly disrespectful in his eyes, especially if he is not enthusiastic about being handled like that. Leghorns can be pretty feisty and if he is young, he might be reaching the point when he decides enough is enough. That's just my personal opinion, but just keep a look out for signs that he is no longer going to submit to this petting. It would be unpleasant to say the least if you bend down to pick him up one day and he flogs you.... they can do some damage with beak and spurs and it could be dangerous if you get caught unawares. 


Good luck with sorting your problem and keep us updated.




Barbara      .    

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks Barbara I will check her out again in the morning with fresh eyes. Her eyes are bright and she is eating and drinking and foraging - just at a distance from the rooster as he blocks her path! Also wise words with the rooster - always on the ready with him.
post #4 of 12
There are different possible reasons this could be happening. Each chicken is an individual and each flock has its own dynamics. I don’t manage mine the way you manage yours either, but we are also all unique. I can’t argue with anything Barbara said.

With them all being one year old I’ll offer a different possible reason. How long has this been going on? Some cockerels don’t reach sufficient maturity to be a real flock master to all hens until they are a year old or even more, though most do. I’ve had a situation where I had a hen as flock master while a cockerel was growing up with the flock. As the cockerel matured the hens one by one accepted his dominance, except for the dominant hen. She just would not give up her dominant position. The cockerel did not challenge her at all until he was pretty mature, somewhere around nine months in my case.

Then he decided he was going to take over but that hen was having none of it. For two solid days that cockerel went out of his way to be brutal to that hen. He would chase her and peck her, normally around the head. He was using brute force to get her to accept his dominance. After two days of this she gave up and accepted him as the dominant chicken in the flock. They became best buddies.

Once pecking order and flock dominance issues are settled a flock is normally pretty peaceful, but getting to that peaceful stage can sometime be pretty brutal.

 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.


 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.

post #5 of 12
When I have seen such something frequently was found to be wrong with hen. This time year is often associated with Mareks where early symptomatic birds change in voice and behavior resulting in other birds attacking it. Another problem can involve a hen that is somehow visually impaired. Final option can involve a hen that does not talk nice to rooster so he is trying to evict her. Normally such hens would move to another flock which is not an option in most poultry keeping settings. Either way simplest option tends to be swapping out hen.

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



Reminder to self: August 2021 Check Post #15852 in Show Off Your American Gamefowl


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



Reminder to self: August 2021 Check Post #15852 in Show Off Your American Gamefowl

post #6 of 12
All good points. I would check for wellness, seperate rooster, feed protein or feather fixer until her molt is over. To each their own in raising roosters but in all my years with roosters I've learned ignoring them is the best approach, i don't mean never checking their health or saying good morning but givng them their space and them giving me mine. Years ago I got flogged by a rooster, he went to freezer camp and I changed my thinking about how I raise my roosters. Never had a mean one since. I am sure it is more genetics than my approach on raising roosters lol. Good luck with your hen.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for your thoughts. All in flock are 1 year 2 months old and all raised together since hatched. The rooster has always been the head of the flock without any trouble. I am in the Southern Hemisphere so we are in Summer time.
post #8 of 12
I have also gone through a very similar experience. When my hen moulted this fall she stayed away from the rooster for a while. He was busy with 2 other favorite hens so she was ok hanging with the other 8 new pullets. I believe that she became the somewhat dominant hen in the younger group. By the end of fall the new pullets started laying and the rooster started taking more interest in the rest of the flock. This is when the problem started. He took to chasing and pecking her but since they were free range she could avoid him for the most part. They all bunk together at night and she was always on the roost in the same room as him but during the day he continued to accost her. I thought things would straighten out but it continued for over a month. It got to be winter and the flock has to be shut in because of the cold weather. When he finally drew blood on my favorite I put him in cold storage jail(cold side of the coop by himself) thinking when he got out he would be preoccupied with wooing the rest of the flock and forget about her. Unfortunately this was not the case. As soon as they were together again he was back to slapping her around instantly. He also did this to another sickly hen in summer and I culled her because she was sick and in hopes of creating peace and harmony. It seems that he doesn't tolerate any sickness or disobedience and his Americana breed is known to be aggressive. However...I've never had a roo act like that and we don't tolerate bullies around here so this judge and jury said its freezer camp for you! I'll be getting a new roo in spring and hopefully this one acts more like a gentleman. Has anyone else experienced this?
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

So just an update - after a couple of days free ranging (46 acres - plenty of space for all) and night time isolation for rooster - we had a breakthrough on morning two as he came out of jail he ran into the general run but didn't attack - just watched and went about his business - so due to flooding rain, they stayed in the run together - plenty of high roosts and hidey spots if needed but they just gave each other a wide birth. Last night all slept in main house together - she just went in about 10 minutes later and when I went to check on all she was on the perch next to the rooster. Today - we are still a little wary but definitely back in good books. He even gave her food today! She is definitely not laying at present and has never been a champ at that - so I think she has just been refusing his advances and he's not happy with rejection ;)  Any way - still just on watch, but definitely a happier flock :clap

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 

We have an Egg!! Happy Days :lol:

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