Alpha hen may need to become dinner.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Carly Avgeris, Jan 29, 2016.

  1. Carly Avgeris

    Carly Avgeris Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 28, 2015
    kane county Illinois
    My RIR alpha hen has become extremely aggressive in the past few weeks. She has completely plucked out all of the butt feathers of one of her fellow flock mates, and I noticed yesterday that another one is now missing all neck feathers and some butt feathers. I also spied her eating a shell free (membrane only) egg this morning and did find another egg in the coop that had been pecked. She has been making a ton of noise as well. She woke us up twice the other night and then at 3:30 a.m. with her extremely loud clucking.
    I am worried that she will kill the ones she has started plucking feathers from, and that the other chickens will follow in her footsteps. Has anyone dealt with this before? If so what did you do? If it keeps up, I am thinking she may make a good dinner. Too bad she is such a good layer. :(
     
  2. jordan293

    jordan293 Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 24, 2015
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    put her in a cage in full view of the others for a couple days or this may sound strage but tie a string to her foot about 2 feet long and tie her to a pole close to some water and feed so she cant chase the others iv found both these methods effective for feather picking hens and then you release them a couple days later and no more picking they are so focused on being free i think lol
     
  3. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    How old is she? What do you feed them and is she molting? How many birds do you have and how much space do they have?
     
  4. Carly Avgeris

    Carly Avgeris Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 28, 2015
    kane county Illinois
    She is a year old. They are fed organic layer pellets I believe 16% protein or maybe it's 18%? Also food scraps from our meals. We have 14 hens and 24 square feet.
     
  5. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Pardon me for asking, but is the coop or run 24sq ft?
    If that is the amount of space you have for 14 hens, then your main problem would be not enough space.
    When they are overcrowded,feather picking and aggressiveness will become a problem.
    Do you have any pictures of your coop and run?
    Are you able to expand the space they have?
    There are no hard and fast "rules" to space needs, but in general terms it is best for the coop to have at least 4sqft per bird and the run to have at least 10sqft per bird.
     
  6. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    Are they confined to that 24 sq ft all day? If so that's far too tiny of an area for 14 hens, and that would cause the issues you are seeing.
     
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  7. Carly Avgeris

    Carly Avgeris Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 28, 2015
    kane county Illinois
    The coop is 24 sq feet. The run is pretty big. It goes all the way around the coop (converted from an old shed) and extends on either side . they spend their days outside with free choice to go in if they please. I do not have any pictures, but I'll try to snap some today.
     
  8. Carly Avgeris

    Carly Avgeris Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 28, 2015
    kane county Illinois
    They have free choice of being in the run or in the coop. They are outside almost all day unless it's below freezing.
     
  9. shortgrass

    shortgrass Overrun With Chickens

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    The coop sounds too small for that many hens... 24 sq ft would be cozy for 8 birds, much less 14. She's stressing for sure. Even with a large run, they have to sleep in there all together at night and might be squabbling over limited roost space.

    Might be space, or a protein deficiency.

    Have they moulted yet? Sounds like you either have a couple moulting, or she needs higher protein feed, too.

    Try separating her and give her some high protein feed for a bit and see if it doesn't help, maybe just some dry cat food on the ground for scratch, its got very high protein and can help out when they're moulting, etc.

    The egg eating is more serious. That will need to be stopped ASAP, or she will show everyone how delicious they are and you'll be getting zero eggs :(

    It's not a "stewpot" crisis quite yet, but she is telling you something is wrong in her environment, most likely nutrient needs, but secondary are space issues.

    Just to add figures, I have 20 hens in a 56 sq ft coop with a 2000 sq ft run, a second coop with 16 birds that is 64 sq ft, and a third coop with 3 silkies, and its 18 sq ft. Free range on the last 2 coops, and I STILL have 4 extra birds, my Anconas, that refuse to coop at night; they sleep in the trees to avoid "pecking order" on the roosts in all 3 coops, and as you can tell, there's plenty of space ;)

    They are quite picky about space sometimes, especially certain breeds.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2016
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  10. Carly Avgeris

    Carly Avgeris Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 28, 2015
    kane county Illinois
    Thank you for the info. They have not stared molting yet that I am aware of. I just sent my husband out to measure and it is actually 38 sq feet, which is still not enough it sounds like. I will try the higher protein feed and see of we can add more roosts too.
    We never Intended to have this many. Originally there were only 6 and I wanted four more after one died. I was supposed to give half of my order to another chicken lady but then she couldn't take them. So here I am with over crowding.
    Darn! I'll have to get to work today!
     

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