dead hen

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by candy, Mar 29, 2007.

  1. candy

    candy Hatching

    Mar 29, 2007
    Two days ago I got a call about some hens that needed a new home. When I brought them home I put them in with my laying hens. I have 25 layers, no rooster, The new hens were keeping to themselves bt seemed to be ok. this morning there was a dead one with its head torn off. I beleive that one of my older barred rocks did it. Has anyone seen this behavior before? This hen is the bossy one and does push the other smaller hens around. I did remove the suspect to her own pen.
  2. mudhen

    mudhen confidently clueless

    Jan 15, 2007
    Shepherdstown, WV
    Gosh, I don't know what to say about that, I'm sure someone will post who knows more.
    But I didn't think it was good form to just add chickens from one place with a flock from another, because of danger of transfering different germs, etc.
    Perhaps an incubation period of sorts with short getting to know each other opportunities before mixing everyone up.
    Just MHO.
    Sorry to hear of the loss. Sounds like you have a tough cookie there!
  3. CarriBrown

    CarriBrown Crowing

    There should be an incubation period, but since they are already mixed, it's probably too late for that.
    I'm sorry about the loss of your bird. [​IMG]
    The head torn off sounds like a preditor, not another bird.
  4. hencackle

    hencackle Songster

    Mar 25, 2007
    Telford, TN
    I'm guessing a raccoon. Are your chickens locked up at night, all open windows covered with hardware cloth? Or are you using chicken wire? A coon can reach in, grab a bird and rip the head off. Coons have a taste for chicken blood.

  5. hillcountrychickens

    hillcountrychickens In the Brooder

    Mar 27, 2007
    Dripping Springs, TX
    When you say "head torn off" does that mean, disconnected and gone? Were they in the henhouse together overnight? My experience has been they really pick on any new bird badly, ganging up and chasing. If they were confined, that is probably what happened and once they taste or smell blood from an injured bird, they all go at it.

    I did have a rooster attack a hen, but you said you dont' have any.

    I've introduced new hens by putting them in an appropriately sized chicken cage on the floor of the chicken yard. This way the other hens get used to the smell of the new chicken, without being able to hurt it. It needs to have a roost (a pole through the wire, in one side and out the other) and food and water, hay..and cover it at night with plastic if it rains.

    I have always heard you should always keep new birds separate too because you don't want to introduce illness into a nice healthy flock you have been caring for.
  6. Years ago(YEARS AGO!!) when I had bantums, I would get a new hen or two and wait until dark to put them in with the others. They would wake up together in the morning and were accepted every time. I guess they could "talk" together all night, thus getting to know them. I never worried about diseases and don't think they ever contacted any. But, boy was I dumb!! I wouldn't do it now. Now, I would confine the new ones for a safe time, then put them in after dark. If I ever had hens turn on another, they never ripped off the head, but would pick the top until it was a pulpy mess. Merry
  7. wynedot55

    wynedot55 Songster

    Mar 28, 2007
    theres a few vermitts that will pull heads off an suck out the blood.they are skunks possums an coons.find where they are getting in an fix it.or else you could keep losing hens.
  8. hummingberd

    hummingberd In the Brooder

    Mar 18, 2007
    I have seen this before. A friend of mine had a flock of chickens. She got a new batch which included an "exotic" variety. For some reason, this bird was very defensive, submissive, etc...As soon as she started running, the other birds realized they could intimidate her and they ganged up on her. We found her that afternoon all ripped apart. Guts everywhere. It was quite awful. When introducing new hens, I always put them in a seperate pen where the other chickens can see them. Keep them there for, oh...4-5 days. Then I would release them into the flock. Generally when I release them, the doors to the coup are open and all chickens are allowed to free range. I do this because I believe confinement is stressful to birds. I keep a close watch for about 20 minutes. Any bird being singled out and tortured is put back into quarantine for a few days and then reintroduced under close observation. Some birds take more time to adjust than others. The birds will fight a bit, but they are just figuring out pecking order. It's the fights that just don't stop that are a problem. If a bird is being attacked, she runs away and the aggressor chses after her and won't relent, then it's too soon. Good luck!

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