Aggressive dominant hen

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by roseoreilly, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. roseoreilly

    roseoreilly Out Of The Brooder

    10
    0
    22
    Jul 19, 2013
    Hi, I'm hoping someone can help me!

    I have 3 egg laying hens, two Australorps and one Rhode Island Red (named Ginger) - they are all free range and approx 1 year old (and no roosters). Soon after I got them, one of the Australorps, Olive, asserted herself as the alpha chook - and I understand that this is normal behaviour and what chooks do. Anyway, this hasn't been too much of a problem until yesterday when I saw Olive standing on Ginger's back (she's a lovely natured large Rhode Island Red, possibly a little bigger than Olive) while pecking or 'biting' her comb. I was horrified to see such aggression from her. I ran over and took her off, but I can't watch them 24/7. Can someone tell me what's going on here and what I can do to stop this from happening again? I appreciate your suggestions.
    Cheers [​IMG]
     
  2. DavidKerk

    DavidKerk Chillin' With My Peeps

    536
    15
    113
    Feb 9, 2013
    The dominant hen in a situation where there is no roosters will commonly start to do rooster-like things (like attract the hens to food with a soft cluck). It sounds as if your hen was trying to mount the hen like a rooster would. When a rooster mounts a hen, he will grab the skin on her neck to balance himself. It seems like your hen was simply trying to do this. I wouldn't worry about it unless the hen starts to be overly aggressive in other instances and draws a large amount of blood. I hope this helps!
     
  3. roseoreilly

    roseoreilly Out Of The Brooder

    10
    0
    22
    Jul 19, 2013
    Thanks very much for this - it makes sense what you say - in fact it did cross my mind at the time that she may have been trying to do just that! Ginger didn't appear to be upset at the time so I gathered she wasn't too distraught over the whole saga. Really appreciate your comments - Thanks :)
     
  4. DavidKerk

    DavidKerk Chillin' With My Peeps

    536
    15
    113
    Feb 9, 2013
    You're very welcome!!!
     
  5. rmurrayslcut

    rmurrayslcut Out Of The Brooder

    51
    4
    46
    May 17, 2013
    South Jordan, UT
    I had a similar situation with a dominant BR hen. She started picking on a bantam Ameraucana to the point of opening a wound on her back. The BR then started in on my other Ameraucana. This week, she hit one of my Australorps, making her bleed. My other hens got to the point where they would lay in a hidden corner of the coop because the BR was so protective of the nesting boxes.

    I caught her picking on another bird one night after dark. The other hen was laying there (as they will do) and probably would have been killed had I not checked in on them. It's a tough thing to witness.

    I gave the BR away. I was going to cull her, but it seemed like a waste to kill an eight month old layer with probably 1,000 eggs left to lay. Luckily, a guy with a huge flock and three roosters offered to take her.

    I would advise you to re-home the aggressor, or cull it. It's a hard choice, but it's necessary and a relief to have peace in my flock again.
     
  6. roseoreilly

    roseoreilly Out Of The Brooder

    10
    0
    22
    Jul 19, 2013
    Thanks for your reply. She seems to have backed off a bit but if it starts again I may have to consider your suggestion. There has been no blood that I have seen anyway. She's gone broody again (second time in 2 months) so her behaviour is very strange again - one minute she acts like a rooster and the next she wants to sit on eggs! It's mid summer here now - today is 43C (107 F) and she doesn't want to eat or drink so I am a bit worried about her. I'll keep you posted re any more news. Thanks for your suggestion.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by