Chickens went on crazy killing spree?

Advertisement Purina Flock Layer


7 Years
Aug 22, 2012
I have had a rough 2 months with birds! I have 8 layers, who are normally docile. i have gotten new birds in hte past, and had no issues. I had gotten 5 new easter eggers hens and one young rooster. first off, the rooster, was with the hens he grew up with, and suddenly one day he tore the scalp off one little girl. She had survived, so i slowly intergrated him in with my other girls. it was cool at first, until one day they went after him and he was missing feathers. he remembered "scalpie" that he tore up, so i couldnt put him with them. i found him a new home...

Now the true problem.
I slowly integrated the 5 new hens into the coop. Everyone seemed cool. They ate together and no problems. Week goes by and i found one dead. It had a bad wound to he back, a hole, and organs were visable I watched the rest for the day, thinking something had to break into my coop, although it is completely sealed. They all got along great. the next day, i have one more dead bird, with a hole ripped in its back, and was completely hollow inside. Another bird had a hole, but was still alive. The last two newer hens were unharmed and removed from the coop.

What would cause them to suddenly kill in such an aggressive matter? I can see picking and some surface wounds if they got into a fight, but to rip a quarter size hole? And to gut them out :( it was such a horrific sight to see.

With the rooster, i had seen them pounce on him as a group (the original hens). So he was removed and was told if i wait 2 or 3 weeks they may forget. Well they didnt. So i gave him away.....But to suddenly attack other females....i dont know. I could understand the rooster, because my Buff Orpington hen, acts like a rooster, and she may have not wanted competition.

I am so sad :(
Sorry to hear it.

I don't think the chooks did it though they may well have cannibalized the injured or dead birds afterwards. A hole in the vent area, yes, they could do that, but tearing a hole into the bird's back, sufficient to access organs? Not so likely.

(When you say 'back' I am picturing the top of the bird, the spinal area, not the flanks, or abdomen, though, so best to make sure we're talking about the same area. If bone was smashed or removed to get into the guts, it wasn't likely a chicken that did it.)

Either way, your rooster was faulty and good riddance of an instinct-warped individual with violent behavioral traits. It's common enough but not healthy and a good rooster won't ever do that. I would have culled him to make sure that never happens to anyone else's hens, not re-homed him, not that I blame you for doing what you did. I have no tolerance for bullies and killers as I've got a fair bit of experience with how difficult and nigh-impossible it is to breed that highly heritable and usually inherited behavior out of a family line of birds that shows it, and training it out of him --- if even possible --- is also a waste of time. He'll probably have sons just like himself. I pity the hens and their owners who encounter that line of males in future. With any animals I get that are bullies, the bloodline stops with me. But I'm not condemning your choice there, culling is not something for everyone; I'd bet he will get his just desserts soon enough anyway.

No matter how predator-proof your cage seems, they have a habit of getting into veritable Fort Knox's of cages. May be a rat? Most chooks will kill and eat rats, but some rats are quite dangerous. I had a dual population of small rats at one place I lived, these ones looked like overgrown mice, and one resident female who appeared to be of another species of rat. She didn't look anything like the others. Huge, lumpy face and head, different body shape, coloring, etc.

Anyway, long story short, she was too smart to be killed by conventional means, bait, traps, etc, and for a few years she terrorized the area. The other rats never hurt my animals, but she did. She would eat holes in things the other rats couldn't. She kept producing apparent hybrids with them, intermediary sized and shaped rats that never lasted long for some reason; maybe she killed them, she often killed other rats.

I eventually managed to get her addicted to dark chocolate, throwing it about so she could access it freely until she was addicted, because she was too smart to go near traps... Until she needed a fix. ;) Once addicted she would ignore her intelligence to venture into a trap to get it, and after a few near misses, that eventually did the trick, though she was so large and fast that the trap only caught her hind quarters and my dog had to finish her off. I had to tape the chocolate to the trap. She was just too clever.

She was the exact sort of rat you almost always find in industrial city areas, not the bush or rural areas, extra smart and extra aggressive, had a habit of killing smaller rats and rodents, the sort that eats human's extremities in their sleep, and those of other sleeping animals too. She's the sort of rat that could, would, and did, eat holes into otherwise healthy and able-bodied living animals in broad daylight. She could and would also chew through metal to get into a cage, and was extremely cunning, and would drag obstacles out of the way to clear a blocked tunnel, etc.

Best wishes, I hope you find what the culprit is. Depending on where the holes in your animals are located, it's either the chickens or something else. Maybe a weasel? I don't know. Whereabouts are you?

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