Badly bullied hen

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by tygress66, Oct 19, 2016.

  1. tygress66

    tygress66 New Egg

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    I have a small flock of Rhode Island Reds as well as a pair of Rouen ducks. They all grew up together and have been together since they were day old chicks. They are all about a year and a half now, four hens, rooster, drake and duck.

    One of my hens is being bullied. The other three hens peck at her sometimes, but it's the two males that hurt her the most. She cannot leave the coop, and half the time cannot even get down from the roosts in the coop to eat or drink, without my rooster and my drake taking turns at her -- repeatedly. I have seen the two of them gang-rape her both outside in their run and inside the coop when she tries to eat or drink. And they don't stop -- they will keep taking turns at her over and over and over until someone intervenes and chases them off her. She has run away twice because of the gang rapes from these two, but has come back both times. When I go out to see them, she always flies to me and sits on my shoulder shaking. She was the first of my hens to finish molting, but her back is now bare from being over-mated. She has a large scratch on her side below her wing. I'm really worried that my boys may hurt her badly enough to kill her. They do not treat any of the other hens like this, only her. I'm at a loss what to do aside of removing her entirely from the flock, except I have no other coop or run, or anywhere to keep her. Any advice is appreciated!
     
  2. JuliaWesterbeek

    JuliaWesterbeek Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Is she smaller than the other hens? If so, this may be the reason why she is being bullied (chickens bully smaller chickens). I would keep her separate until she has fully recovered from the bullying and then try to put her back in the flock. If the flock still bullies her, I would keep her separate (I don't think there is anything else you could do...).
     
  3. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    I'd approach it from the opposite angle - remove the rooster and drake from the flock. Not sure on your hen numbers, but a ratio of 1 rooster to 10 hens is the general rule of thumb to prevent over-breeding.
     
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  4. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    They may very well kill her if you let it continue. The constant breeding by the rooster is bad enough, but drakes have a reproductive organ that is incompatible with chicken anatomy. I'm surprised he hasn't injured her more severely already.

    You don't have an extra coop or run right now? It's time to build one. Not for the hen, she isn't the problem. Toss the males into a bachelor pad, or even get rid of them. If you have chickens and ducks just for eggs you don't need them anyway.

    I suppose you could also try separating the ducks to see if that lessens competition between the males. Though if the rooster has been persistent in harassing this one hen his behavior may not change.
     
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  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    To allow this to occur for even one day is the ultimate in cruelty. I am rarely so blunt, but this should never be happening. To keep a small flock penned up where it is impossible to escape the abuse is beyond imagining. If you remove this girl, the roo and drake will simply turn their attention to the next lowest gal on the pecking order. And as pointed out by PP, drakes have very different anatomy than chickens. That drake IS going to kill her. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but he is doing unbelievable damage to her. If you can't change your coop/run arrangement, then get rid of the drake and roo.
     
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  6. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    I'm in total agreement with the above three responders. The drake and rooster should be removed from their access to the hens. How to achieve this can be very simple. Turn these two ruffians out to free range during the day while keeping the hens safe in their run.

    You don't need to understand why the two males are targeting a single hen. Take steps immediately to stop this. Also, drake should absolutely not have access to female chickens. I suggest you get a small dog house to house your two ducks and let them free-range and not mix with the chicken flock. If you really can not separate the two flock species and males, maybe it's time to invite the drake to dinner, and the rooster can spend time in your freezer.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016
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  7. tygress66

    tygress66 New Egg

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    It doesn't matter to me why the males are messing with her, all that matters to me is stopping this behavior yesterday if not sooner! We are in the process of building a separate coop and area just for the ducks, as we are looking to expand both flocks and agree that it's high time to separate the two species. Fortunately, the duck gets along fine with the hens. We have space in our garage that would be big enough to house the males at night until the ducks' area is ready. We may end up housing them there for a while. As for the rooster, we have him so we can get new generations of chicks from our hens, so we are in this for more than just eggs. So maybe we should look to give him his own spot while we expand our chicken flock. In hopes that having more hens will keep him busy enough to stop targeting her so much.
     
  8. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Sounds like a good plan
     
  9. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    It's certainly a good start. I'm also hoping you will try to increase your knowledge and understanding of the two species with which you're dealing.
     
  10. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    If this roo is aggressive to his hens, and it sounds like he is, you should also look at replacing him, and not get a replacement until you have the space to adequately allow a bigger flock. Simply housing the males separately at night is not going to solve the problem as breeding occurs during the day. I strongly urge you to separate the males from the females 24/7 until you have your housing issue solved.
     
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