Bullied Hen by Rooster

ForMyPepperCorn

Hatching
Nov 25, 2020
2
1
5
Hi All! Long time reader. I've gotten great advice here and hope you all can help with my current situation.

I had a flock of 5 hens. One, PepperCorn, as always been at the bottom of the pecking order, but overall, the girls were nice enough to her. They are between 3-4 years old.

We then added 4 more hens and shortly after 1 rooster in the Spring of this year. All were introduced to the flock at around 2 months old. Fast forward 7ish months, the rooster and 4 new hens are doing fantastic together. The hens look to the rooster and he clearly watches out for them. As for the older hens, they want nothing to with them but no bullying either. The rooster will chase them down and do this business. They try to run but will eventually give in and move on.

The problem is my sad PepperCorn. He seems to chase her down and peck at her, and only rarely finishes the deed. It got so bad that we found her hiding behind the coop, looking physically beat up and emotionally completely shut down.

I separated her about three weeks ago & set up a temporary house. About a week later, she starting looking a bit better but seemed to have decided she wanted to live after all. During the day, i have at least 1 of the original hens in her area so she is not alone.

What are my options for next steps? My boyfriend is convinced I cant re-introduce her to him. He wants me to get a new coop, and separate the old vs new, but that would then leave 1 rooster to 4 hens which is not enough. I was looking into chicken saddles but not sure how much that would help in this situation. I could separate only 2 hens but the original hens get along well.

The temporary house i created cant be turned into a long term solution, so i would have to invest into a new setup.

p.s. the Rooster has shown no aggression towards me or my boyfriend, and all the other girls look good. I considered getting rid of him (my ladies come first) but that seems extreme when its only an issue with 1 hen. We live in the country and have multiple hawks in the area so having a rooster is beneficial.
 

Hei 20

Crowing
Oct 8, 2020
1,881
10,011
343
Hi All! Long time reader. I've gotten great advice here and hope you all can help with my current situation.

I had a flock of 5 hens. One, PepperCorn, as always been at the bottom of the pecking order, but overall, the girls were nice enough to her. They are between 3-4 years old.

We then added 4 more hens and shortly after 1 rooster in the Spring of this year. All were introduced to the flock at around 2 months old. Fast forward 7ish months, the rooster and 4 new hens are doing fantastic together. The hens look to the rooster and he clearly watches out for them. As for the older hens, they want nothing to with them but no bullying either. The rooster will chase them down and do this business. They try to run but will eventually give in and move on.

The problem is my sad PepperCorn. He seems to chase her down and peck at her, and only rarely finishes the deed. It got so bad that we found her hiding behind the coop, looking physically beat up and emotionally completely shut down.

I separated her about three weeks ago & set up a temporary house. About a week later, she starting looking a bit better but seemed to have decided she wanted to live after all. During the day, i have at least 1 of the original hens in her area so she is not alone.

What are my options for next steps? My boyfriend is convinced I cant re-introduce her to him. He wants me to get a new coop, and separate the old vs new, but that would then leave 1 rooster to 4 hens which is not enough. I was looking into chicken saddles but not sure how much that would help in this situation. I could separate only 2 hens but the original hens get along well.

The temporary house i created cant be turned into a long term solution, so i would have to invest into a new setup.

p.s. the Rooster has shown no aggression towards me or my boyfriend, and all the other girls look good. I considered getting rid of him (my ladies come first) but that seems extreme when its only an issue with 1 hen. We live in the country and have multiple hawks in the area so having a rooster is beneficial.
:welcome:welcome:welcome
Welcome!!!
Keep in mind that the rooster is only doing that to the hen because he likes her and wants to get under her feathers. LOL
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
Feb 2, 2009
26,495
17,800
797
Southeast Louisiana
Don't be so sure that 4 hens is not enough for one rooster. Many of us have fairly low hen to rooster ratios. I can think of one member that feels that 3 hens to one rooster is the perfect ratio. It changes flock dynamics so that the few hens and roosters make a really tight flock. The rooster helps the hens more with laying and raising chicks. Usually the problems come in when they are immature cockerels and pullets. By nine months yours should be acting like a mature rooster and hens. I personally would not hesitate try. I trust what I see a lot more than what a stranger over the internet tells me, even when that stranger is me.

I don't know why he is attacking her like that. From what you describe it is not mating behavior. I've had a chicken take a strong dislike toward another specific chicken before, to the point that they tried to kill them. From what you describe it sounds like he is trying to run her out of his flock instead of killing her but she could still wind up dead. It does not sound like a rivalry thing. Sometimes chickens will try to expel a weak chicken from the flock, especially if sick or injured. A weak chicken can attract predators to the flock. Maybe he doesn't think she would make a suitable mother for his children. Or maybe it is a personality thing, I don't know. When I've seen it it's directed at one specific chicken, not the flock in general. To me that does not make him a bad rooster, he's just trying to look out for his flock.

I try to solve for the peace and benefit of the entire flock, not for one individual. My convenience and comfort counts for something to, I feel that I have value and the chickens benefit if I enjoy taking care of them. If it were my flock that one hen would be gone. It sounds like that is not acceptable to you and you are willing to build something to accommodate her and take care of her. So that is my suggestion. Build something that keeps her permanently separated from that boy, now and forever.

I'd build it big enough that you can keep all five in there if you wish and do not plan on hatching eggs from your older hens. Try it and see how it goes with all five together, you may be pleasantly surprised. You can always try putting a couple back with the other flock if you want to.

Good luck!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
90,254
112,211
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
I'd separate the male for a few days, let the hen back in with the flock.
Is she molting?


Oh, and..... Welcome to BYC! @ForMyPepperCorn
Where in this world are you located?
Climate, and time of year, is almost always a factor.
Please add your general geographical location to your profile.
It's easy to do, and then it's always there!
1606316379915.png
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
Feb 2, 2009
26,495
17,800
797
Southeast Louisiana
I agree, if you try separating one of them from the flock for a few days I'd separate the male.

One, PepperCorn, as always been at the bottom of the pecking order, but overall, the girls were nice enough to her.

The way I read this she has always been a "special" chicken but I do not see any big issues with separating him for a while. All you can do is try and it might work.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
Nov 12, 2009
8,623
10,285
636
western South Dakota
I too, solve for peace in the flock. And some times you have a bird that does not fit with that flock. I would move or cull the victim permanently and leave the rest together. Some of the older birds may begin to die off at their ages. I think you would be better off leaving them all together. Separating birds causes a lot of problems.

I do think that when a bird is being attacked all the time, it is upsetting to the rest of the flock. I wonder if the rest of the flock calmed down when you pulled her? I too, think, she is older, and she might be sick, and being pushed out. It does happen.

And basically you have doubled your flock. So what are the dimensions of the coop and run? Because what was working when the new birds were 2 months old, might be tight for all full grown birds.

MRs K
 

ForMyPepperCorn

Hatching
Nov 25, 2020
2
1
5
Don't be so sure that 4 hens is not enough for one rooster. Many of us have fairly low hen to rooster ratios. I can think of one member that feels that 3 hens to one rooster is the perfect ratio. It changes flock dynamics so that the few hens and roosters make a really tight flock. The rooster helps the hens more with laying and raising chicks. Usually the problems come in when they are immature cockerels and pullets. By nine months yours should be acting like a mature rooster and hens. I personally would not hesitate try. I trust what I see a lot more than what a stranger over the internet tells me, even when that stranger is me.

I don't know why he is attacking her like that. From what you describe it is not mating behavior. I've had a chicken take a strong dislike toward another specific chicken before, to the point that they tried to kill them. From what you describe it sounds like he is trying to run her out of his flock instead of killing her but she could still wind up dead. It does not sound like a rivalry thing. Sometimes chickens will try to expel a weak chicken from the flock, especially if sick or injured. A weak chicken can attract predators to the flock. Maybe he doesn't think she would make a suitable mother for his children. Or maybe it is a personality thing, I don't know. When I've seen it it's directed at one specific chicken, not the flock in general. To me that does not make him a bad rooster, he's just trying to look out for his flock.

I try to solve for the peace and benefit of the entire flock, not for one individual. My convenience and comfort counts for something to, I feel that I have value and the chickens benefit if I enjoy taking care of them. If it were my flock that one hen would be gone. It sounds like that is not acceptable to you and you are willing to build something to accommodate her and take care of her. So that is my suggestion. Build something that keeps her permanently separated from that boy, now and forever.

I'd build it big enough that you can keep all five in there if you wish and do not plan on hatching eggs from your older hens. Try it and see how it goes with all five together, you may be pleasantly surprised. You can always try putting a couple back with the other flock if you want to.

Good luck!
Thank you so much for the thorough response. I really appreciate hearing other peoples thoughts. In a random turn of events, I tried to put one of the original 5 in with Pepper today, worried she may be getting lonely, and Pepper was NOT having it. I've never seen her be aggressive before. So, i'm going to build a small coop just for her with scrap wood & fencing I have lying around. She still shares a fence with the other girls and seems perfectly content. So for now, that is where we are going to leave it. Like you said, its also about the flock as a whole and right now this seems to work for everyone.
 

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