This might have been a "behavior" forum posting, if there weren't such severe injuries involved... We have a flock of 15 chickens, including just one rooster. The rooster and five hens were hatched last August by an older Buff Orpington who went broody over the summer. We didn't have a rooster, so asked a neighbor (who earlier took our Partridge Cochin rooster) for some fertilized eggs. A Partridge Cochin was father of all six hatched chicks, but I'm not recalling the varieties of hens that provided these eggs, but lots of orange in the feathers of these offspring. The mother hen and our other eight older hens in our flock were all hatched May '06, from a commercial hatchery. The mother hen was very protective and effectively signalled the other hens to stay clear when the chicks were small late this Summer and into the Fall -- she would get all puffed out and clucky when she led the chicks in and out of the coop. As the chicks got older, it was a fairly smooth transition: The six of them tended to roost together -- sometimes with the mother hen. The other older hens had room to roost a little bit apart from them, but over time I have seen more mixing of the two groups of chickens around food, etc., with minimal pecking. They were all cooped up, inside for *months* over this long winter, again with remarkably little pecking of each other. I was hoping with the rooster having no competition, he might stay on the relatively less aggressive side. One interesting -- and relevant -- additional behavioral detail: while I've read that hens loose interest in their chicks after a couple of months, this mother hen continued to affiliate with young flock and once, very *late* Fall, when my husband had to catch a young hen caught in some fencing, the mother hen got back into her "Protect!" posture, lowering her head, puffing out and running up to my husband as he untangled the squawking younger bird. At this point, the young chicken was at least three months old, well past the age that I had been led to expect a mother hen would show any such behavior. So now we're able to let the birds out into their yard some days -- they're no longer in continual confinement, and the young birds are seven months old, the new hens laying eggs for several weeks now, the rooster crowing. And here's the crisis: He is viciously attacking *his* mother hen, and none of the other hens (the older ones or his younger "sibs"). About a couple of weeks ago I noticed that her comb was a little bloody, but not out of the range of what I've observed when a young rooster is "in action," and I wasn't entirely sure if this particular Buff Orpington was the mother -- there are three others in the flock. Then, about four days ago, I saw a gash on the back of her neck, and began to get more concerned, but have seen that occasionally in the past. However, none of the other hens showed injuries, so I started watching very closely. The reason I am now quite sure that it's the mother hen is that I'm now seeing her fluff up again and start clucking when she starts to approach the rooster -- as if she is "reverting" to defensive/"stay clear!" signals that used to work when she was escorting chicks past other hens. And, also, it's the younger hens (that she would have hatched) that seem to be hanging out with her. For the rooster, however, her "defensive" Mother Hen style of puffing up and clucking seems to be a provocation and he charges her, pushing her neck to the ground and biting it. N.B., the two times I've caught sight of him doing this, he is standing in front of her or slightly to the side, and does not appear to be interested in mating [I've seen he's got *that* technique down now with other hens.] When she was roosting the past several nights, I checked and she was between two other hens, either two of the hens she hatched and/or one very gentle Ameraucana hen, with them facing out into the middle of the coop and her facing towards the wall, so they weren't also pecking her. I have not yet seen another hen peck at her injury... The back of the mother hen's neck now has a bare, blood crusted patch about two inches long and now almost gridling around to the front...awful. I think I can see skin is split and pulled back on either side. Today things reached crisis stage: She and one of the hens she hatched separated themselves from the rest of the flock, going out further into the snow than the other birds have ventured. Later, when the temperature started to drop back to freezing, these two stayed out another hour or so. I went outside, keeping an eye on the chickens most of the time. I saw the rooster come out to the door of the coop several times, including when the two hens started to work their way back inside as it got colder. I turned my back and then I heard two quick loud squawks and didn't see the hens...I figured they got back in, but not before the rooster got one more bite in. Then, however, I saw that both hens had "flown the coop" and were outside the fencing. The mother hen had fresh blood on her neck and was looking up into the branches of a big bush. The other, younger hen, was nearby... Temperatures are going to get into the teens tonight, iffy for a night out for a weakened bird, so we intervened. The young hen we caught and brought back inside the coop, re-introduced without any problem with the rooster. For the mother hen, we rigged up "protective custody" caging for the night, but still inside the coop with the other birds [she stopped the distress calls once we brought her, caged, back in with the rest of the flock]. My plan for the next several days, at least, is to bring her out into the yard, where she can escape as needed during the day (temps well above freezing) and then back into the separate cage contraption at night... She *is* still eating -- I've been bringing food pellets to her once she's safely outside, distracting the rooster and rest of the flock *not* to investigate her food by giving *them* treat-seeds at the same time. I'm really concerned, though, if a full re-introduction is going to be possible...that the rooster is going to mortally wound her (if he hasn't already). It really appears that she can't adapt behaviorally to drop the "Mother Hen" signalling behavior that appears, in turn, to so provoke the rooster. I've wondered if what appeared to be her longer than usual affiliation/mothering bond with the young birds ticked off the rooster.... today, she had with her, in "exile", one of the young hens, at one point *two* of them. So, in terms of the "emergency," does anyone think this destructive "family" dynamic can be resolved and the mother hen safely interact among them, or is the answer to remove permanently either the rooster or the mother hen. (I've been waiting to see if the rooster is going to turn on more hens, as that would help provide answer, but so far it's just this one hen...) ALSO, what are the prospects of the hen's recovery, in the first place, with her slashed neck? Thanks, and sorry for being so long-winded, but I was trying to anticipate questions folks might have...and I really want to manage this situation best I can!