Do good hens sometimes go bad? (Turn mean?)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by sara1226, May 12, 2016.

  1. sara1226

    sara1226 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a 1 yr old beautiful barred rock hen who has suddenly started chasing some of the other girls around. I completely understand the whole pecking order thing, but she isn't just taking jabs, she is chasing one in particular away from the food and water and attacking and chasing her. The one she is the meanest to is my little silkie hen that I have had the longest. It might be because the silkie is broody and isn't out with the flock as much, but I do go and remove her from the nesting box at least 3-4 times a day so I know the others still are seeing her and she is still eating and drinking. I don't want to part with the barred rock, I am attached to all my chickens.. They are our pets and not for dinner. But it isnt fair to my silkie that is a little sweetheart and I've had a long time now. I just don't know what else to do. I tried removing the barred rock for 4 days and reintroducing her because I was hoping it would knock her down a notch and she would have to re establish her spot in the pecking order... It didn't work.

    Do hens sometimes turn mean? She is for sure a hen, she lays eggs, not a rooster. Should I give up and rehome her?
     
  2. OrganicFarmWife

    OrganicFarmWife Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Barr Rocks are my most aggressive birds. Mine hold top hen fiercely and got very mean with my Cornish Cross.
    It is probably the silkie going broody that has upset the pecking order and your Barr Rock is trying to establish herself as head hen again.
    I would go ahead and seperate her again and make her wait out the broody silkie. That or just keep your silkie seperate while she is broody and wait for the chicks to hatch.
    Keeping two seperate feeders and waters not within sight of each other helps alot. And because your silkie is so much smaller then your Barr Rock you could fashion a safe room inside your coop. A cage with a small door that only the silkie and her chicks could go into.
     
  3. sara1226

    sara1226 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Interesting. Thanks for the suggestions. I do worry that when its time for the babies to join the flock the mean hen will kill them. For now we put an addition on and they will have a selerate area, but when the time comes and they are bigger I'm concerns about how it will go... Because even at full grown, they are silkies too.. They will always be smaller than the aggressive barred rock. [​IMG]
     
  4. OrganicFarmWife

    OrganicFarmWife Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would go with the safe room
     
  5. fatcatx

    fatcatx Chillin' With My Peeps

    Short answer is yes. I have a black Orp that was at the bottom of the pecking order and very meek. She went broody and we let her hatch some eggs and in her mothering hormonal cloud she turned into Henzilla. It began with her defending her chicks. But once she was done with them the attitude stuck. She chases and stomps (literally!) on anyone who dares look at her sideways. She is the evil dictator of the flock.

    Chasing is very normal pecking order behavior. I would first try to add extra feeders away from each other. Hopefully the Rock will wear herself out trying to defend them both and give up. Setting up a divider so she can't see who is at the other feeder may help too. A cardboard box or row of 3 buckets works wonders.

    x2 on the cage idea. A little pen with a little door can also double as a broody pen for the silkie.
     
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I have had a hen go mean, but mine was quite a bit older than that, and she just got more cranky. How did the tension in the flock feel when you removed the mean hen? If the flock was happier without her, that might be the one that needs to go. If the picked on hen, was just picked on by someone else, then that is the one I would pull.

    Sometimes, there is something wrong with a hen, that the others just all of a sudden start picking on, but sometimes not. How are you running for space and numbers? Sometimes, flocks that got along, don't later on when they are all full grown and taking up more space.

    If you put a 'wall" up in the middle of your run, so birds can get out of sight of each other, or put a pallet up on blocks so that smaller birds can get under it, where as bigger birds are not comfortable there, that helps. Hide outs are important. However, make sure that there are two exits from any hideout, so a bird cannot get trapped.

    But my question is why are you taking your broody hen off the nest several times a day? You should really leave her alone a bit more than that. I only move mine every 2-3 days to check for extra eggs.

    Mrs K
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  7. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    I was wondering the same thing.
     
  8. varidgerunner

    varidgerunner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chickens are designed to be led by a rooster. The rooster won't let hen squabbles get too out of hand, because he doesn't want his hens damaged, in most cases. Hens have nothing to offer other hens, so without a rooster, they can get pretty nasty. Age and hormones can make them worse.
     
  9. sara1226

    sara1226 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am trying to break her of the broodiness. The eggs she is sitting on are unfertilized.
     
  10. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    oh that does make sense.
     

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