Brutalized hen theory

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by kevinnini, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. kevinnini

    kevinnini Out Of The Brooder

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    I started out with 5 sexed chicks several years ago...all raised without a roo in the picture. Two years ago I introduced 4 pullets to the flock that were part of a straight run that also grew up with roos. Last year I placed some fertile eggs beneath a broody hen and hatched 2 female and 2 male chicks. I kept the chicks separate from the flock for about 5 months until they were big enough to protect themselves, and then introduced them.

    Now the interesting part: Early on, the mature flock of hens would beat on the cockerels, more than the 2 young pullets. But gradually, the cockerels would become more bold and begin to mount the hens. Their 2 brood mates were receptive from the start, but the mature hens were not, and would try to attack the cockerels as they did their business. After a while the cockerels dominated and things were fine.

    Then one day I found one of the original 5 cowering in a nest box. she wouldn't come out for several days...in the end they had ripped all the skin from the back of her skull and neck...I had to euthanize her.

    Now within the past week another one of the original 5 is getting the same treatment. I noticed that she won't let the roos mount her.
    But she is completely ostracized from the flock by the roos. Not much blood, but no feathers and I'm applying anti-pick every 2 days.I don't know how much more of this she can take...I'm going to try and re-home her. It's so strange, the minute the roos get a glimpse of her they go straight into vicious attack mode. Even if I'm right next to her and give them a good kick..they come right back in for the kill.

    My theory is that the original 5 were raised to maturity and beyond without any roos, and as a consequence, perhaps these 2 were not receptive to the roos, and because they resist, the roos want to cull them from the flock. None of the others appear to resist the roos.

    I am keeping an eye on another of the original 5 that is spending way more time up on a high roost...I wonder if she is next?
    All of the flock are healthy.

    What do you think?
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    I've had a similar start, with some hens raised without roosters and a latter introduction of roosters as well as hens raised with roosters. Personally I'd cull those boys. Whether she mates with him or not, he has other mates, it's not like the whole flock is resisting him, and he's killing hens who are serving their purpose and producing. I would personally not tolerate that. It would make more sense if there were endless unsolved clashes between the roosters and the older hens, or if not a single hen in the whole flock was mating, but as it is... Whatever the basis for this behavior may be, it's counterproductive. Do you want to keep and breed males who kill any female they have a disagreement with? Such males do not earn their feed.

    My older hens, raised without roosters, didn't take well to the males at first, and there were some squabbles, but over time they accepted mating occasionally, but generally the roosters preferred other hens. But at no point have I had a rooster savage a hen like that.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2014
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Could just be that 2 roos are too much for 11 hens...removing 1 roo might calm things down.
     
  4. kevinnini

    kevinnini Out Of The Brooder

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    One roo does seem to be more aggressive toward the hen...both of them give me a wide berth.
    The other did give me a nasty bite on the thigh months ago when I was handling one of the screaming hens. We had a come to Jesus meeting and we're good friends now. Maybe I will cull one of the roos. Thanks for the suggestion
     

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