could uber-dominant Delaware hen cause others to stop laying?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by AbbyDog, Nov 4, 2011.

  1. AbbyDog

    AbbyDog In the Brooder

    Dec 2, 2010
    Here is my sad November egg situation. I live in coastal Southern California. I have 6 hens- 1 Delaware, 1 Rhode Island Red, 1 Barred Rock, 2 Ameracaunas and 1 Welsummer.

    The Delaware is the head angry chicken. She will peck you as soon as looking at you.

    They are all the same age- chicks in May 2009. They all laid very well for about their 1st year- starting at about 6 months old with a bit of a break over Dec/Jan. Then, starting last winter (that's right, almost 1 year ago), the RIR just decided to stop and has not laid since. That was last February and she wasn't even 2 yet! She looks totally healthy, is not broody (although she tried that last year),has a good appetite- but just not interested in laying. Will she ever start up again?

    The Welsummer had problems with internal laying and although she has survived, hasn't laid since last January. Her comb is starting to redden up again after she went through a long molt- so I am worried that her problems will re-surface. She is so scared of the others that I have to separate them each evening so that she can eat a little in peace. If she tries to roost with the others, they harass her to the point of where she has been sleeping in one of the nest boxes.

    The 2 Ameracaunas had a couple of good months this summer where they laid maybe 3 eggs a week each. The Barred Rock also had a couple of OK late summer months where she was doing 3- 4 eggs a week until she started to molt last month.

    Only one of my six hens has been laying consistently (>3 a week) over this past year, and that is the Delaware. She is an awful, nasty, aggressive, bossy bird, and I would love to make her into stew- but she is the only one that has been dependably laying. That said, she has not laid for 3 days.

    When I was getting 3-4 eggs a day, I was able to sell some each week and get a little $$ to help pay for the expensive organic feed they get.

    Could it be that the extra obnoxious Delaware has pushed the others around enough so that they have given up laying? Does this sort of thing happen?

  2. Atrayu

    Atrayu Chirping

    Aug 12, 2011
    Hermosa, South Dakota
    Hey I feel your pain. I had a Delaware who had the same temperment. She wouldn't let the others (I have a total of 17) lay eggs in the nesting boxes. She would chase them out of the coop and found eggs all over the property away from the coop (they are free range). Some of them stopped laying eggs all together. At night she would keep the others from coming in the coop to roost. I would have to hold her outside the coop until all the others got in and then she would calm down and not be so mean.

    I finally had to give her away. She is the only hen in my friend's household and is happy as a lark and my chickens now lay regularly and there is peace in the coop. There hasn't been a problem since.
    It is amazing how one tempermental hen can cause so much stress and disruption in the coop.

    I wonder if you get rid of her if the others will start laying more regularly.
    Good luck!
  3. mkwags

    mkwags Songster

    Jul 31, 2009
    Davis County, Utah
    My thoughts are that chickens are dual purpose. They give you eggs and they are theraputic to watch. (much like a fish tank). I have learned that if you have a bully chicken, don't keep her. It stresses out your brood as well yourself. I had a bully hen for a year and a half till I got sick of the chaos and now my coop is easy going and everyone is happy. Ya, get rid of the bully for sure.
  4. Schwartzfarmnc

    Schwartzfarmnc Songster

    May 28, 2010
    West Jefferson
    I had a Delaware exactly like you had, after several months of putting up with her I had to put her down, and the entire flock has blossomed nicely, many more eggs and no one ran out of their box. Sometimes no matter what you do they just won't change, and believe me, I tried every trick in the book and Nothing I mean nothing stopped her, and it was not fair to my other girls so I had to put her down. Don't let one bird disrupt the dynamics of your flock, it will stress you and your birds.
  5. OvertheHenHouse

    OvertheHenHouse Songster

    Sep 12, 2011
    San Diego
    Don't have Delawares but am curious whether you've separated her from the flock at all? Maybe a 2-week stint in isolation away from everyone will show you what life could be like without her and will also serve to knock her down a peg or two.
    And if it doesn't, then you'll have some options to consider. Good luck!
  6. AbbyDog

    AbbyDog In the Brooder

    Dec 2, 2010
    Thanks for all the responses- I feel much better knowing I am not the only one with a mini-dinosaur Delaware monster in my backyard.

    She chases everyone off the roosts at night- I have built two more perches but she just jumps back and forth. For the first year, she was content to sleep by herself in a corner- but now she chases the others. She also used to guard the nest boxes- although now that she is the only one laying, that isn't an issue.



    I do have to hand it to Dolly, though, she is quite a super chicken. last December, she gobbled up so much broccoli and pumpkin rind that her crop impacted. Of course she didn't stop wolfing things down- but it got to the point of where water was spilling out of her beak because her crop was just too full. It never cleared and eventually I had to do the crop surgery on her. It went really well but I was shocked at how big a piece of material a chicken can swallow...there were items in her crop larger than my entire thumb.

    I had already thought about building coop #3 so maybe I should get on it and give them rest of them a break.
  7. ThinkingChickens

    ThinkingChickens Songster

    Feb 18, 2011
    Gosh, my Delaware is a pain too. She doesn't look quite like yours though. She's in my avatar.

  8. AbbyDog

    AbbyDog In the Brooder

    Dec 2, 2010
    Wow, your Delaware looks sweet! How did we end up with such a monster? And, in case anyone is wondering, she was named "Dolly" when she was 1 week old- we had no idea her chest would grow so large.
  9. OvertheHenHouse

    OvertheHenHouse Songster

    Sep 12, 2011
    San Diego
  10. LaurelRidgeDreams

    LaurelRidgeDreams Songster

    Jan 23, 2010
    Mountains of NC
    I have a bully Delaware. Pinless peepers worked for her.

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