Aggressive rhode island hen

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Rhoady, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. Rhoady

    Rhoady New Egg

    Mar 19, 2012
    We have had two pet chickens for about 3 years now, One is a rhode Is red ,and the other is an Isa brown. Both are very friendly and are wonderful pets,they both love being nursed and handled daily. There has always been an established pecking order between the two of them,with the Rhode Is being the dominant bird.
    Just in the last few days, the Rhode Is has become extremly aggressive toward the other hen,she will puff up the feathers and line the other hen up,and charge at her.In the past I have seen roosters behave in a similar manner, but she is definatley not a rooster. I have never seen her behave this way before.
    There does not seem to be any signs of brooding,and she has never been broodie before. they have both been good egg layers up until recent weeks,which I would think is more to do with their age.Although the Rhoad Is has always been the dominant bird, she has always got on extremly well with her little mate. They spend every day together in their large pen with no problems while we are at work,and are free to roam the the backyard when we come home,they normally just cruise around and hang out together ....until now.
    We have had to seperate the aggressive one away from other as I have a real fear she will hurt her badly (ie broken wing or neck) chasing her about in an area she can't make an effective escape. She is currently housed in our laundry overnight and during work hours,with some yard time by herself morning and afternoon. One is locked up while the other has the yard,this is not an ideal situation for either of them.
    We are at a lose to work out this sudden change in behaviour, also the sorts of "normal chook sounds" the Rhode Is makes are somehow different,I am sure this is somehow symptomatic of the problem.
    Does anybody out there have any experience with or have seen this before in their chooks.
    And, no..., culling/eating the offender is not an option for us,these are very loved little people and we need to sort out this weirdness soon.......Any suggestions?????
  2. newfoundland

    newfoundland Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2010
    Is the other hen well? I have noticed bullying of a sick chicken before in previously trouble free flocks. You might perform a very careful examination of the other hen to rule this out. You could try a pen within a pen as it were to keep them separate and yet together, if that makes sense. It's good to keep them roosting together at night. I have found that they can be sparring up to each other in the day and yet huddle together companionably at night. Also at least 3 feeding stations and watering points is a good idea to prevent squabbling over food/water. I hope things sort themselves out for you, I have the same attitude towards culling. Good luck.
  3. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 15, 2011
    SE Pa.
    I'd check both for health issues. The Rodie could be having vision or some other problem that's driving her actions. With only two hens the flock dynamics has limited flexibility so...
  4. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

    May 11, 2011
    West Virginia
    My Coop
    I agree that you should take a very close look at BOTH hens for health issues.

    Other than that, it might just be some moodiness. Our flock of 5 will cruise the yard without seeming to mind each others' company one bit, and the next day one or more of them is throwing their weight around, charging others and/or pecking or pulling on combs or feathers. Never any serious altercations, and most don't last more than a few seconds. Just flock dynamics and vying for position in the order. With only two birds, there's only ever one target when the other has a "bad day" or wants to challenge.
  5. Rhoady

    Rhoady New Egg

    Mar 19, 2012
    Thank to those of you out there who have replied so quickly to my request for help. I have had a good look over both of the girls today and can't see anything wrong with either of them ,or at least nothing obvious.They are wormed regularly and have no mites or insects bothering them.Combs,waffles,eyes and general colour seem relativley normal to me.
    However, I am suspect of the possibility of the fact they ,or one of them might be approaching a mild moulting phase as there are some signs that may indicate that.I did see them go through a rotten time last winter,both of them with major feather loss,obvious change in their temperament/stand offish attitude, loss of appetite,their combs and waffles shriveled up and turned dark etc,nothing as severe as those symptoms are present, but, I have noted a change in appetite lately and very minor feather loss in the subservient bird, the agro one seems as fit as usual,but whether this has much to do with the current behavior problem I am not sure (but the mind remains open).
    Another thing I have noted is neither of the girls are laying,this has been the case for a few weeks now,the aggressive one has periodically laid the odd egg lately,and I do mean" ODD "egg,the only eggs she has laid have been barely set,with a soft or even open spot on one side,the contents are OK, maybe this is a sign she is nearing the end of her egg laying life so to speak,after all she is around 3 yrs or more old now.Maybe some of you out there with far more experience than I, might throw some light on that part of the riddle.
    At present the solitary confinement of" miss bossy boots "(Rhodie) will continue at least for another couple of days,I had noted that while she has shown a slight improvement in her attitude after the first couple of days of confinement, she is still keen on attacking if left unsupervised for any length of time, she is "talking" a little more normally now at least and maybe that's a good sign,I guess we will see.They are roosting together tonight,but I think daytime will be a little tense for poor little "Speckles" again tomorrow.
    Again I wish to thank you all for your help and advice,please if you have any other thoughts or suggestions of help, I am all eyes as it where in this case. I will keep you posted on the progress as it just might be of help to somebody else with or without feathers.
  6. Rhoady

    Rhoady New Egg

    Mar 19, 2012
    So ..... After a bit of research on this site as well as other sites,I had come to understand the problem is more behavioral than anything else. I came across a post by a another guy who was experiencing a similar problem with his rooster,which made me think a little more about the larger picture,to cut a long story short,I just needed to assert ,or re assert the pecking order, how??? as soon as the nasty stuff occured I simply got hold of Rhodie and pinned her to the ground for about 30 seconds or so,although she wiggled a bit she didn't win. Like training dogs,you need to act immediately so the association of their actions and the consequences are linked in the animals mind. The idea is to force submission,the very same thing she is trying to do to others around her.
    It took a couple of days and a few repeat doses of the treatment,but now I have back the the two friendliest chooks ever, both cruising the yard together the way it should be.,and Speckles is no longer needing to hang around my legs for protection.
    After the first "downing" she was noticeably different in attitude and even sounded different.It seems that her attempt to dominate the other chicken was only symptomatic of the whole picture,it is most likely,she was also attempting to dominate the humans too,and attacks on us where probably just around the corner,or the next step.
    Thanks again for the helpful hints offered, and I hope my little experience will help somebody else.
  7. FireTigeris

    FireTigeris Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

    Thanks for the update.

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