Former Bully Hen Now Beaten Up by Rooster and Other Hens

Barry Natchitoches

11 Years
Sep 4, 2008
My one and a half year old buff orpington, Blondie, was one of the top in the pecking order, and frequently would peck or even bully other birds lower in the pecking order. She was never brutal or anything, just regular hen pecking kind of stuff.

But a couple of afternoons ago, I went in the henhouse to feed the birds and found her cowering on the floor, her wing caught in an awkward position between the cinder block that I keep their waterer on and the wall. She didn't just look frightened, she was genuinely fearful, and looked like she got in that position from possibly warding off an attack. She was also very weak and her red comb was drooping, something that has never happened before.

I gently freed her wing and picked her up. I wasn't sure if she was sick, or just what happened, so I brought her inside for the night and put her in a dog cage we can set up for such occasions. We wanted to observe her, to see if she was sick or something. She seems to be a bit lethargic, but not too badly so.

My wife and I both had to go off today, so it was late in the evening before we could put her back in the main henhouse again. She seemed to mill around with the other hens, just sort of doing normal chicken stuff, other than seeming a bit slower and less energetic than normal.

Then we noticed that one of our other hens, Cathy, ran out of her way to jump her and attack her. The two stood up to each other the way hens often do, and were fighting one another, when into the middle of the ruckus runs DaddyRoo, their rooster.

Normally DaddyRoo breaks up fights between hens.

But not this afternoon.

This afternoon, he joined in the fight and started beating up on Blondie right along with Cathy. They were pulling her feathers out, and generally being pretty violent.

So my wife got in there and swooped Blondie up to get her away from them. She held Blondie for a few minutes to calm her down, then put her back down, away from the two who attacked her.

Blondie milled around a few minutes more, then Cathy jumped her viciously again. And for a second time, DaddyRoo ran from clear across the chicken yard to join in the attack against Blondie.

This time, I grabbed Blondie and penned her in in a special segment of the chicken yard where we can lock a bird or two up away from other birds. This kept the other birds from being able to attack her, while it allowed her to be just a wire fence away from the rest of the group.

She stayed in there until right before dark, when we let her go free to see what would happpen.

She went directly in to the main henhouse with all of the other birds who were claiming their perches for the night.

But instead of climbing on a perch, she went into the secluded egg laying area, to hide away from the other birds. She was terrified of being in their presence.

I didn't know what to do, so I scooped her up and brought her back inside for the night. She's sleeping over in the dog cage across the room from me, which I covered up with an old Army blanket to give her darkness to sleep in.

What could cause this sudden change in behavior?

And more importantly, what do I do now?
Thought I would add -- I think we've eliminated broodiness as a possible explanation for her lethargicness.

My wife put a couple of eggs in the cage with her, but she has nothing to do with those eggs.

Nor has she laid an egg, at least she did not lay an egg in the last 30 hours or so.
By removing her after her injury/incident for the evening, her status dropped from alpha to bottom rung. She'll have to tolerate the attacks from the other birds or fight back until she can reclaim her status as alpha. Often removing a bird has the end result of lowering the bird's status. Frequently the bird in question fights its way back to top position, but other times it seems the bird is never able to reclaim the status it had prior to the removal. The others will continue to be twits to Blondie until the new pecking order is settled. It will go quicker if you try to stay uninvolved. Watch to make sure she is not getting hurt, but let them do their thing as much as you can. They need to work it out for themselves.

Good luck.
The OP said before she was seperated the other birds had picked on her and that was the reason they brought her in. Something happened before then. The only thing I can think of is she is ill and they are trying to cull her. Try grabbing the aggressive ones and penning them up somewhere else for a few days and leaving her in the coop where they used to be. That way when they return they will be back on the bottom of the pecking order. If that doesn't work I don't know what to tell ya
Yes, I agree with CMV. I have all Thai game birds, many of which are roosters awaiting their trip to the freezer, and I also have a very large Shamo who is head roo, and who is kept for breeding. There are occasional arguments but nothing like there was in the beginning, because at that stage I let them sort out their own politics. Then when I bought my head roo, each and everyone of the younger roos challenged him, but he dealt with it swiftly and efficiently, and now he leaves them alone as long as they don't overstep the mark, and as long as they don't try their luck with his ladies. I also had one young hen that was too afraid to go in the coop at night, but I left her to do her thing, and as of a few days ago, she now joins the rest of them.

My advice would be to stand back and let them sort their own affairs out. If that fails, then the trouble maker hen who starts the trouble would be my dinner. My policy is if one cannot get along with the others, then it has to go.
I would make sure that the hen was in full good health before trying to reintroduce her to the flock. When I tried to reintroduce her, I would remove the rooster so that there was an even playijng field. As to what caused the turmoil? The pecking order is an ever changing thing. Generally roosters don't attack hens, but perhaps she initially challenged him.
Yesterday (which was the day after I wrote the OP) my wife had more time to spend with the chickens, so she took Blondie outside and caged her in the special fenced off area for an hour, just to make sure Blondie was healthy enough to join in with the group.

Blondie was eager to join the others, so my wife caught the two aggressors from the day before -- Cathy and DaddyRoo, and she locked THEM away. DaddyRoo went in the pen where she had locked Blondie in, while Blondie was let out to rejoin the rest of the flock. Meantime Cathy, the female attacker, was locked in a dog cage that we leave permanently in the henhouse for when we need to segregate a bird.

Blondie had the rest of the day to mill around with the rest of the flock, while DaddyRoo and Cathy spent most of the rest of the day locked up.

About an hour before sundown, my wife let Cathy out first. Then about ten minutes later, she let DaddyRoo out.

There has been no fights since. Blondie seems to be getting along just fine, and DaddyRoo and Cathy have not attacked her any. Nor has anybody else attacked either DaddyRoo or Cathy.

We seem to finally have our happy little flock back...
Do not be surprised if the aggressive behavior returns. It usually takes a longer period of time (days if not weeks) to adjust bad attitudes. Hope all is OK today.

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