Cannibalism

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Xenia's Chickens, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. Xenia's Chickens

    Xenia's Chickens Out Of The Brooder

    34
    5
    32
    May 21, 2010
    Connecticut
    My Coop
    About a week ago I finally got rid of a rooster that had been injuring the hens for months. Their rumps and the backs of their heads were bald and raw from his constant attention. Despite all the injuries, I never had any problem with cannibalism. The roo was very domineering, and I expected that there would be some fighting until a new pecking order was established, but nothing like this.

    A few days ago I walked in on really nasty fight between two of the larger hens. They were biting each other's combs and clawing at each other, but neither appeared to be seriously hurt and I left them alone to work it out. When I got home later that day the largest hen was missing. I found her out in the pasture, dead, with all of the flesh picked off of her head and neck, and no other injuries. What a gory sight!
    [​IMG]

    I'm almost certain that she was killed by the other hens- I've never seen injuries like that from any other predator. I am guessing that she was injured during a fight and the others attacked her because of the wound. So far, none of the others have been pecked, not even those that still have healing sores from the rooster.

    They are free range during the day, have plenty of indoor space, eat a commercial layer feed supplemented with oyster shell and whatever they eat outside, plenty of nest boxes... Should I be doing anything else to prevent another incident like this one? I never want to see anything like that again!
     
  2. a123andpoof

    a123andpoof Chillin' With My Peeps

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    111
    Mar 17, 2011
    Just keep an eye out, hopefully it is a one time thing. I had some chicks and I thought they would be okay in with the big girls. the chicks were good size, but not big enough. I got really busy and was unable to check on them. When I went down I found one of the chicks dead and pretty picked off. i was shocked. But it did not become a problem and is the only time it happened.
     
  3. Xenia's Chickens

    Xenia's Chickens Out Of The Brooder

    34
    5
    32
    May 21, 2010
    Connecticut
    My Coop
    Well, it's been about 6 weeks and there has been no more fighting until today. A week ago I took out one of the hens because she was eating eggs (it had been going on for a while, but I finally caught her in the act). I kept her in the basement in a dog crate, and gave her a golf ball to sit on. She ate the first two eggs she laid in the crate, but nothing since then. Meanwhile, I made some curtains for the nest boxes.

    Today I tried to turn her out with the others in the pasture, and at least 4 of the others immediately attacked her. Within 5 minutes she was bleeding from bites to her face and limping. They continued attacking her even though she was cowering and completely submissive. I pulled her out and put her back in the crate, but left the crate in the coop.

    Will I eventually be able to integrate her back into the flock?
     

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