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Head-hen voilently annoying other hens while they lay in 'her' box

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by TheDams, Nov 22, 2012.

  1. TheDams

    TheDams Hatching

    Nov 22, 2012
    We live in the city and have three plymouth rocks--they're about 9 months old and have been laying really well for a while now.

    We aren't always home but when I am home in the AM I can sometimes hear a ruckus coming from the henhouse and when I investigate 100% of the time it's our head hen, pestering whoever else is trying to lay. Of course they're all laying in the same box and have to take turns.

    In the past I was annoyed for the other hens but figured they need to work things out because I'm not always around to referee anyway. But this morning there was blood! I noticed one of my girls looked weird in her wattle and combs--and thought she was dirty but when I picked her up to investigate I realized she was just pale and that her comb had been pecked at and was bleeding (just a tiny bit).

    Sure enough there they had all laid and there were actually little drips of blood on one of the eggs :(

    I know this head hen gets REALLY anxious when she feels she needs to lay--she gets super loud and bossy--but drawing blood is a first. The rest of the time they all get along perfectly--there's a pecking order for sure, but there's never been blood.

    Besides caring for the wounds, should I be doing something else? Can you discipline a chicken? Is this infrequent behaviour normal and acceptable (within reason)?

    Thank you!!!

  2. jecombs

    jecombs In the Brooder

    Jan 31, 2011
    Have you thought about isolating the head hen for a few days? If you take her out of the pecking order for a while, she will hopefully go back into the flock in a lower position.
    1 person likes this.
  3. TheDams

    TheDams Hatching

    Nov 22, 2012
    Oh no I didn't realize you could change pecking order.
    We don't really have anywhere else to put her--but that's a good idea. I'll see if we can isolate her somehow.

    So that means keeping her away 24/7? She doesn't run around the yard with them, or sleep with them?
  4. Grace11

    Grace11 Songster

    May 5, 2011
    If thats what it takes, I'm gonna have to separate my 18 birds into 2 groups! The BOs and the SLWs harrass the others mercilessly out of the nest boxes. I have 9 boxes and at least 3 are seldom or never used.... no reason I can discern. Sigh.
  5. Rhoise

    Rhoise Songster

    Apr 26, 2012
    Boise, Idaho
    I had a similar problem with my girls, tried separation, she went right back to it, also two other top hens started doing it also in her absence, they actually seriously injured another pullet so I resorted to putting pinless peepers on them. Worked like a charm!! I tried to take them off after a while (60days)and they went right back to the bad behavior, so back on they went. It slows them down a tad, and they look kinda goofey, but it is either that or the pot, and they are great layers! All is peaceful now in the hen house.....

    Last edited: Nov 22, 2012

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