Excessive Hen Mounting Issue

Appleby2003

Chirping
5 Years
Jan 29, 2014
40
3
67
Eastern Pennsylvania
Goooood Morning all. Another day in the life of a frustrated backyard chicken owner. I've had these buggers for 8 years now and I'll tell you, they must hold a monthly meeting to brainstorm ideas on how they can stress and confound their caretaker. The idea of owning chickens 8 years ago seemed like such a great plan. 8 years later I am at my wits-end. I swear it's a new major issue every few months. They're not remotely crowded, clean water, attention every day, plenty of food and healthy snacks, coop is clean and beautiful all the time, yet always issues. That said, they're mine so we just keep on keeping on and figuring issues as they come. So that rant aside (thanks for listening)........

We got a few now chicks this Spring. One Austrolorp that we are very fond of. Friendly, cuddly little bugger. She is now 6 months old and nearly as large as the other mature birds. Her and her Wellsummer sister just started laying about 3 weeks ago (sporadically). The Austro, unfortunately, is VEERRRYY submissive. She drops down for a 'back rub' every time we walk by. She unfortunately is also very submissive to the other hens who have taking a liking to mounting her. I know it's relatively normal behavior and not something to normally be concerned about but this time they did it to the Austro so much they've torn a hole through the skin straight to the skull. It's about a dime sized wide open circular hole straight to bone. There was one chicken in-particular, that I've never been fond of, that I saw chase the Austro down yesterday and really hammer her. I immediately dispatched that bird just because I was sick and tired of constantly dealing with it being a complete jerk. Still, the issue isn't going to go away and I understand that. Not without some sort of intervention by me.

We've isolated the Austro from the other 4 birds....well 3 now (Very small flock left after all the issues the last 2 years). We cleaned her wound and put some neosporin on it. We have antibiotics on hand but would rather not use them till we need them. I have her in a separate cage where she'll stay until the wound is healed up in a few weeks. The issue is that I know once I put her back the issue is going to happen again immediately. to the point.....

Is there anything that I can apply to the back of this bird neck that will taste so foul that the other birds will hit her once and never again??? Spray or ointment?? Other than that I only appear to have two options. 1. Kill the other two dominant birds to remove the issue (we like the Austro waaaay more but the others are egg producers which is the point of all of this) or 2. Kill the Austro which likely isn't happening.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. It stinks that she's so submissive. She's pretty much bringing this on herself.
 

Peppercorngal

Crowing
Feb 5, 2018
2,647
6,104
391
Feather Falls, CA
No, chickens don't "taste". Hot sauce, etc. will not work as they don't have taste buds like we do. Other than have more room, places to hide, roosts to use, I don't see anything changing. The pecking order is what it is, humans' can't change that. I have a very large fenced in free range area (about 1/2 football field), roosts in and outside the runs (where they are locked in for safety at night) and an old water tub we cut a hole into as a place to hide or play. We call it the playpen. If she won't run, or protect herself, I don't know what good any of it would do. Good Luck! :hugs

chicken playpen.jpg
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
5 Years
Apr 9, 2016
14,342
19,970
832
California's Redwood Coast
I immediately dispatched that bird just because I was sick and tired of constantly dealing with it being a complete jerk.
Good for you! :highfive:

I would consider a time out kennel for the largest bully when you re introduce the Lorp back into the flock. In view of the rest of the flock but where she cannot have access to mounting. Allow the Lorp to free range and gain some confidence and maturity without the bullying... MAYBE she will stand up for herself a LITTLE.

Pinless peepers might be an option for you.

I bet a rooster would curb that behavior, but bring a whole new set of challenges.

Chickens DO taste... they just don't have capsaicin receptors. There is a product called pick no more, but think people have limited success with it.

I personally would sell off a laying hen before butchering if it were an option as $20 or so is worth more than 1 bird on my table or in my compost.

Extra visual barriers and feeding stations as suggested by the other poster are also great tools.

For what it's worth... I have raised hundreds of birds and only ever had an issue with one production red pullet mounting a specific Silkie pullet. This is MY flock and I manage the dynamics... NO BULLIES ALLOWED, period on my watch! :smack:drool

A peaceful flock makes for a much more contented keeper. Do what it takes and keep only the birds you truly like. Eggs are replaceable but those truly special birds are few and far between in MY experience. I have 2 ladies that have made full pet status here and I will do what it takes to maintain their peace and my sanity. I also keep roosters and a stag pen with 15+ at any given time. Attitude is the most important thing and the first thing I cull for beyond size, color, faults or anything else.

Sorry to hear it's been several rough years for you. Hope it gets better and this resolves quickly! :fl
 

Appleby2003

Chirping
5 Years
Jan 29, 2014
40
3
67
Eastern Pennsylvania
Thank you both very much for the feedback. you basically told me exactly what I needed to hear. I was hoping there was something I could put on the back of her neck to deter and save the rest of the birds but I will keep the Australorp in isolation to heal the back of her head for several weeks most likely. Once it's healed I will reintroduce and watch. she is growing an increasing in weight very quickly so hopefully several weeks of food to herself will help her get a little bit more mature and maybe grow out of this submissive phase with any luck. I don't think I could sell an egg-laying hen but it's possible I could give one away. I've tried giving them away in the past and have had no luck in even doing that. not sure why in my area Pennsylvania but nobody is interested in a hen that you don't want. I guess people realize if you don't want a particular hen there's a reason you don't want it and they don't want your problem. Usually I end up just having to kill them unfortunately. Never enjoyable but part of being a chicken owner.

Again, thanks for taking the time to read and respond.
 

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