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chickens trying to kill another chicken

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hello!

I am hoping someone can help me figure out what is going on in our flock. We currently have 15 hens, it is a mix of hens some each year over the last 4 years. They have free range of our 1/2 acre property in the city and have a huge shed for their indoor area. They have plenty of food, water, nesting boxes, and perches at night to sleep. 

 

We have 1 hen who has not been acting right lately, so I have been keeping a close eye on her (she is one of the hens we have had for about 4 years now). I'm still not quite sure what it is thats wrong with her. I noticed the other day that she was hunched over and about 6 of our hens were pecking her, I'm sure if I wouldn't have intervened they would have pecked her to death. They actually made her comb and beak bloody. We brought her in the house for the next day and a half trying to nurse her back to health and to make sure she was safe. She was doing better this morning so we decided to try letting her outside again, instantly other hens came over and started pecking her to death again. The only thing I can think of is that they know she is sick and doesn't have enough energy to defend herself.

 

I'm not sure what to do as we have never had any problems with chickens being aggressive like this before. If someone can give me some advise on why all of the sudden they would do this and what we might be able to do to stop it I would greatly appreciate it!! I don't want to leave her in the house for ever, but I don't want the other chickens to peck her to death either. 

 

Thanks,

 

Nicole

post #2 of 5

You have a couple problems. One is that your hen is sick or at least not feeling well and perhaps at the end of her days.

 

The other is the piling on by the others. Flock animals depend on all members to be robust for the health of the flock. They will sometimes try to take one out if they determine it to be a threat to the flock.

Returning a bird that has been away, will almost always cause that bird to be attacked whether it's healthy or not. If it's not, that makes it worse.

 

I assume you don't have multiple housing options for long term.

Are you concerned that whatever is afflicting this bird may spread to the others?

NPIP 43-813

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”                  Mark Twain

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NPIP 43-813

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”                  Mark Twain

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post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your response!

 

I'm not sure what is wrong with her. The first group of chickens we got from a farmer when they were older and I'm thinking they had to have picked something up from the farm we got them from. When I researched what was wrong with them a couple years ago, the best explanation I could find was Marek's disease. The only thing is weird about that is that it has never spread to any of our other chickens, only the first group we got from the farm. This leads me to believe that whatever it is isn't contagious to the other birds.

 

We have over time lost almost all of them except for this one, and the 2 leghorns that have never been affected. When we give them colloidal silver a few times a day for a few days their symptoms all go away for awhile. Then it just comes back up again. All the others we have got right after being born have always been healthy and have never had any health problems.

 

We have however, delt with a couple chickens who have had an abcess in their foot before and had to keep them in the house for a couple days to heal. When we returned them to the flock there were no problems at all. Due to the fact we were ok before I figured she would be ok, but luckily I closely watched to make sure she was and quickly took her back away.


We do not have long term housing options for multiple birds, but I'm thinking we might need to make some for her. Keeping her in the house for much longer just isn't an option. 

post #4 of 5

My thought for longer term housing was to take away the bullies/attackers and put the weak hen back with the more docile members of the larger flock. Then return the tough guys one at a time to make them the new kids on the block.

NPIP 43-813

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”                  Mark Twain

Reply

NPIP 43-813

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”                  Mark Twain

Reply
post #5 of 5

You definitely have a sick hen on your hands, and as Canoe says, the other part of your problem was trying to return her to the flock after she had been taken out of the pecking order for a while. Both of those facts are reasons why she was attacked. You need to wait until the sick hen is fully recovered, and then you will need to re-introduce her as if she were a new hen since she will be at the bottom of the pecking order.

 

The issue with her being sick is you are right to suspect something serious such as Marek's, but there are other diseases that may have been imported into your flock that some of your chickens have resistance to, but this hen doesn't. But that doesn't mean that whatever is making her sick isn't very contagious.

 

If your hen does not recover, I recommend you get a necropsy done so you can know exactly what you're dealing with. Start now to plan for it by calling your agricultural extension office to ask for a lab that performs this service. You will also need to ask them how you should handle the body, which usually requires refrigeration immediately after death.

 

I sincerely hope your hen recovers and that you aren't dealing with something very serious.

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