Agressive Hens to a Rooster??

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Glennlarch, Oct 22, 2016.

  1. Glennlarch

    Glennlarch Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi all, I have a super friendly rooster that seems to be finishing a molt. He is a boy that was fought and lost an eye and tail feathers before I got him. He is very healthy now with small feathers while isolating him so he would not bleed from two hens (ten in total) that kept pecking at his upper tail feathers and his beard and neck. His feathers all over are coming back very well. When I try to give him time with the hens, he does his job of foraging for food, and safety of the girls. I have to isolate him again after 20 min or so. Really not sure why they were so determined to make this great fellow harmed. He is very healthy but I find I can't free range him with the girls without having them attack.?? The flock gets layers pellets, water supplemented with poultry vitamin, apple cider vinegar and garlic. In the run till 5 pm then free range after work till dusk. Any suggestions to stop the attack short of taking out the two hens ( great layers). ??? Help??
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    The hens view him as an outsider to the flock so they'll try to drive him off.
    Outsiders are considered a threat.
    This is especially true when he is removed for periods of time and then returned.
    Leave him with the flock and isolate the two aggressive hens for several days. Then return them one at a time. Watch carefully but by then they should be the outsiders.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
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  3. Glennlarch

    Glennlarch Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the advice. I will give it a try and see what happens.
     
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Having only one eye puts him at a disadvantage. Which eye is it?
    A chicken's left eye is farsighted for seeing predators. Right eye is nearsighted for searching food.
     
  5. Kev

    Kev Overrun With Chickens

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    If the hens are not posturing aggressively with hard stabbing bites or also kicking at him then it may be "excessive grooming".

    Some roosters are so gentlemanly with the hens they will allow them to take little nibbles of his feathers even to the point the feathers are getting very ruined. In this case the hens are completely non aggressive and their behavior looks more curious- peering closely and taking pecks here and there and swallowing the feathers. It is partly attraction/fascination with the rooster and partly boredom, excessive damage tends to occur on cooped up birds than birds on free range. In this case... it is very hard to solve unless the rooster starts bop them on the head when they nibble on his feathers too much.

    btw this kind of behavior is common in some captive wild animals. Chimpanzees with bare areas on their arms/shoulders/backs from excessive grooming behavior with other chimpanzees.. they start to pluck the hair out boredom.. positive social behavior taken to an extreme.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Kev makes good points. What the uninitiated may view as aggressive bullying is just common chicken behavior to those that have seen it frequently.

    Another point is that feather picking is possibly a desire for more protein. His newly growing feathers are rich in protein.

    What is being fed to the chickens?
     
  7. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Feather pecking and protein requirements are not (from what i have read from scientific research) related - I would not wish to pursue any disagreement with this statement, as it is what i have read. Positive social behaviour "taken to the extreme" is displacement behaviour, i.e. the prevention (or non-reward) of natural behaviours.

    Trying to discern what is going on is difficult, since your flock free ranges. I range my flock in my garden, with 3 feeding stations for 12 adult birds. They had been pecking at the walls of the house for some time. I began feeding them millet every afternoon (scratch feed, I guess one would term it) and the pecking at the walls stopped. I can only surmise that the searching out for millet in the soil, satisfied their desire to forage, and thus put an end to their pecking at concrete behaviour. I found this interesting, since they range in the garden from dawn till dusk every day (and its a constant 12 hour period, on the equator). Seasons will affect the forage / reward behaviour, but it was a lesson learned on my part.
     
  8. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I had hens that would eat the beard of an EE rooster, and some of the saddle feathers around his neck. Did not seem to bother anyone but me.

    Mrs K
     
  9. Glennlarch

    Glennlarch Out Of The Brooder

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    This is very interesting info. It is his right eye that is damaged. The lid is partially operational as I see it open slightly and close. I don't believe he has any vision in it though. He makes an effort to scratch and call to the hens when he discovers some tasty treats. I will try supplementing their food. In the topic of the week on what to feed and when, there are several suggestions such as mixing 50/50 layer pellets with chic starter, or animal protein ( we have plenty of elk and deer burger and salmon). His beard is fully back. Feathers on the underside are fully back. Neck feathers not quite. Tail feathers not quite. I am very hesitant to re introduce him after all the effort put in just to have the feathers gone again in a matter of hours.
    I think I will let him out tonight about an hour before dusk and observe... If the same behavior is happening, once all the girls and the roo are in bed, I will set the two offending hens in isolation as ChickenCanoe suggested for a few days, then re introduce one at a time. Wish me luck !
     
  10. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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