I'm a newbie with chickens and am having an aweful situation that's over my head, so I'm turning to the wonderful community in hopes of someone providing me with advice.
I need help with my flock: the rooster has recently become very aggressive to me (understandable-that's his job, but really, attack the one that feeds/waters you?) and overly aggressive with his 'sister'. I need some great advice. It's a tough situation: I must find a resolution to this, and quickly, and I'm terribly stressed out (the hens too). He is my favorite of the chickens. A really big beautiful black Astrolorpe--Festus. Like all the others in the flock, he was hand raised by me from day 2. Now, he's becoming a problem. I think there may be a few issues contributing to this situation, but I need help figuring out solutions to each situation. He's attacked me or tried YESTERDAY, 3-4 times, mainly (I think) because I intervened in the strange situation going on here. Please help with answers . Before I go into the details of his environment, I'll give as brief a synopsis as possible, but there are a couple contributing issues that I just cannot fix over night, or even in the month. Please read and offer solutions...couldn't find anything in my book collection So here's a breakdown of what's going on:
~So, last mid-October, I got 2 each of 3 different breeds: 2 black astrolorpes (the ones I really wanted); 2 Plymouth Barr rocks; and 2 Easter Eggers. Balanced, I thought two of each breed, keeping an eye on each one's development. At about month 2-3, it became evident one of the Astrolorpes (the one breed I wanted) is not a pullet, she's a HE--a HUGE guy; tho I initially thought maybe 'she's' just developing quicker than the flock mate. Well, I know you know what's coming...it isn't a female but a rooster.
We were all getting along well. The main problems were things like, the hens are friendly with me and want to come close. He HATES that the hens want to hang with me...but a few times, mainly when I picked up the other black Astrolope for inspection, he CAME at me with a 3-4 foot wing span, talons first SEVERAL times while I was holding the Astrolorpe hen, Henny Penny. I did manage to fend him off and very quickly!, completed the inspection on the other Astroplorpe--a big back female who seemed second in command, maybe third in line in a 5 hen pecking flock order. It ended with Very scratched arms! (I wanted 4 hens, but folks said, at 2 days old, I'd best get a couple extra chicks as they die of dieases, etc, so I picked up 3 sets of 2 different breeds 2 chicks over my limit.. Seemed to be a good choice at the time cause 1-2 will die. But no one died and one turned rooster!)
I ordered a pre-fab coop which would have been adequate IF I had ended up with the original 4 hen (coop seller says good for 6 chickens--NOT-maybe Bantams would work) It's a cute coop: 2 small coops (we refer to them as the chick condos!) adjoined with an enclosed run. Seemed so nice to us, so we ordered. it Cute, but definitely not big enough. (I can send pics if anyone wants to look.)
~SOO, now he's 6-7 months old and becoming more aggressive with me, which I cannot deal with--don't want to go into the run as he tries to sneak up on me, doesn't like it when the hens come close and after 2 more attacks, I'm ready to get rid of him.
BUT THAT'S NOT THE MAJOR ISSUE (TODAY!). Yesterday afternoon I noticed HP (HennyPenny) wasn't acting right, staying alone in the dark coop, she seemed scared and jittery, making some weird, low repeating sound. So, when she showed her face in the run, he charged after her, penning her to the ground, very rough and not the usual 2-5 minute 'romance'). When he had Henny Penny penned to the ground, continuously pounding on her, then 2-3 of the hens came and start pecking on her as well. Messed up! I broke it up. I looked for wounds on her, but didn't see any. It's hard to see with all those beautiful feathers! Here's where we are now:
~We are attempting to separate her from the rest in the late evenings/early morning so she ( HP-Henny Penny) can sleep and have a bit of a break. The 2 separate coop apartments are truly only good for housing 4, ( 2&2) so last night, we had HP in one side and the other 4 (Including the huge rooster) on the other. Extremely tight accommodations! Tonight, I moved one of the other hens in with poor, picked on Henny so, 1) she wouldn't be alone and 2) it will relieve some of the crowding in the other side. Really only comfortably accommodates 2, not 3-4 plus a huge rooster.
~Now for my questions: why would a hand-raised rooster suddenly start attacking his flock mate--his 'sister'?: She looks like him, but is not aggressive at all. In fact, this evening, much like yesterday evening, after she was able to stand up after the pounded he meted out,I let her out of the run and into the surrounded dog pen (which we don't use with the dogs anymore.. She was SO happy--in heaven; no rooster to viciously mount her, no superior hens to add to the disgrace. What can be done here?
~We are trying to find a farm near here that may take him for us. (I admit that I'm sad...he is the most interesting, SO beautiful, intelligent) If I cannot find a farm...any ideas? I guess if I can find someone to kill him, I think the local meat market can process him. I really think that he is without a doubt, the most interesting of all the chickens so don't really want to go that route. I'll have to find someone to come kill Festus for me, just can't do that myself. He's not old, feeble but very strong and not afraid--aggressive.) But if I'm reduced to selling to someone that will just eat him, I'd rather do it myself. I just can't kill him, and deal with the bloody aftermath!
~I know I need a new coop, but our funds are depleted now. That's another project I am not physically able to deal with right now. But it is on the agenda.
I realize this was long, and I hope it made sense. If anyone is interested, I can send some photos of the chicken "apartments", or Festus. This has been so, so very stressful. Any help/ideas would so very gratefully appreciated. I don't know how to handle this situation. My husband has been supportive, but is not interested in building a second coop right now (which I understand, totally).
Please tell me someone has some helpful ideas for me. I've been so very stressed out that my low back, upper thighs (syatica? sp error for sure) are so whacked out and with tonight, I can barely walk or move. Thanks so very much for making it through this post. Now, HELP ME PLEASE! Much appreciation!
Thanks so very much and I hope you are not experiencing the stress and pain I'm feeling now.
All the best, LVB