We've had a small flock of chickens for two years now. Started out with 4. Road Island Red, Easter Egger, Cochin Grey, Cochin Black speckled. They are cooped up at night for safety but have the run of 1/2 acre during the days lots of open areas with bushes and shade and an area to dust bathe in the sun or shade, it's a perfect yard for them. The Red one became alpha hen after the 1st year. She is so rough sometimes that she jumps on the other hen's backs and pecks at their heads and we have two that have feathers missing enough to show skin but I don't know if she is doing that or not. When I notice her being rough, I try my best to stop that kind of behavior by picking her up and tapping her on the head once or twice in front of the other hens to reduce her status a little and it does seem to stop the really mean stuff she does but she's still alpha hen at or around food, water or when they are all too close she'll peck at them. After the 1st year we had more hens come in, 6 buff orpingtons, they are such sweeties and love to be handled and have they feathers lightly pulled on the back of their necks and volunteer to be picked up so much that I can hardly get through the yard without one of them wanting attention like that. I try to be sure to handle all the chickens, including RED (alpha hen) who would rather not be handled, but she likes her feathers lightly pulled (stroked really) too. I know this because I don't stop them from leaving my lap when doing so. One of our Buffs went broody and we got her a batch of eggs to hatch to snap her out of it. 3 little buffs hatched on Sunday and she's a proud but nervous mother. Last night we were all out in the yard and RED picked up one of the little new chicks and pecked at her but she got away and is learning to keep by Mother's side. I grabbed RED and did the usual peck at the head (tap a couple of fingers on the head) and took her to the coop and dropped her in there. The floor is quite soft with lots of poop and wood shavings. Usually she is a little shy for a few minutes and then is strutting her stuff around the yard after 10 mins but keeping her distance from me. This time though she hid in the corner of the coop looking all sad. Her head was low and would make eye contact with you when you went in and out. That night when we rounded up the others for bedtime and RED was still in the corner and not on the roost, she usually likes to be 1st on the roost getting the best spot. This morning we let them all out but no RED appears. I went inside and she was stone cold stiff on the floor, the very same place that she was sulking the evening before. No sigh of injury no egg breach that I could tell. Did I scare her so much she died of shock or a broken heart because I told her off.. she was looking, if a chicken could look something, sad that night. I don't believe I tapped her head enough to damage her. I think I'm the reason she died and I'm beside myself with grief & remorse for what I did. I don't know what it was... I'm so loving to my hens that I think I might of made her so sad she died. Thoughts?