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Help! Behavior emergency! Rooster turning against top hen!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by jlholm, Nov 1, 2016.

  1. jlholm

    jlholm Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 12, 2013
    Western New York
    My Coop
    I had a real emergency yesterday that I don't know how to proceed with. I have 5 hens from my original flock of three years. This spring we added 8 chicks. One is a black jersey giant rooster. He is a big docile loving guy and all has gone well with the flock until yesterday. I heard a big commotion and came running to find him chasing down and attacking (no, not mating!) the head hen from the original flock, which is a little bitty red sex link. He tore off the tip of her comb before I could get to them. After a lot of medical care and comforting I put her back down with the flock who were showing a lot of concern and worry. But the rooster kept coming back after her. I kept separating them and giving out treats to try to get his mind off her and she shook and hid under a bush the rest of the day. When they went in to roost that night, she hurried in before the rest of the flock and as soon as he entered the coop, she was crying out in alarm and hurried and hid in a nest box for the night. What is going on and how do I fix this?! The rooster has never shown any aggressive behaviour before and I didn't see what set this off. He and the other new flock are not quite 8 months old. I really don't want to have to get rid of my big beautiful boy, but will if it's between him or her. I have not had experience with roosters before now, so any help and advice is much needed and appreciated!
     
  2. Wyatt0224

    Wyatt0224 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The only thing I could guess is that since she's the head hen, he may be taking her down a peg in the pecking order. She may have pecked him and he didn't like it so he chased her down. I know my RIR rooster will put the head hen in her place when she starts picking on the other hens. Have they done anything this morning? Has she always been the head hen? If so she might've sounded the alarm because she had never had that happen to her before. But everything I said is just a guess.
     
  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    Was he mating her prior to this incident? If not, my guess is that he tried to exert his dominance over her, and she resisted. Or he could be aware that she has some sort of health issue. That could be something as benign as the fact that she's going into a molt. Where he's inexperienced as a flock leader, he may have some growing up to do in learning proper roo protocol. I'd be very concerned if he was in my flock. Is he breeding the other 4 hens appropriately? If so, and he's simply singling her out for abuse, I'd consider culling him. You could cull her, even moving her to an isolation coop and see how he then responds to the remaining 3 year olds. If he again singles one of them out to attack, he's got to go. If the flock settles down, and he shows all indications of being a good leader to the remaining flock members, you may need to re home her... or him... your choice.
     
  4. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    I think that I'd either keep him in a bachelor pen for a few months, or introduce him to the crockpot. Sometimes, ill-mannered cockerels / roosters can be more trouble than they are worth.
     
  5. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    As awful as it looks....He is setting the pecking order...He is in charge now...By removing either one your not going to accomplish your desired goal....Let her hide out...If bleeding put her in a look no touch pen in the coop and put Blu-kote on the wound...Then let her back out...Pecking order is strong...My Cockerel gets in fights with my top Pullet too...Not so bad the last couple of days..

    Cheers!
     
  6. jlholm

    jlholm Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 12, 2013
    Western New York
    My Coop
    Thank you all for your help! Since I didn't see what started the incedent I'm guessing he was trying to put her in her place so to speak. She has always been the top hen. He has mated her a couple times as well as the other older hens, but they do not receive it well, and he has mainly stuck with the 7 new hens that came into the flock with him. I have seen this hen get up in his face when he has bothered any of the others older hens and he has mainly backed down. She is a little hen with big attitude! Because of that, I'm thinking that's what happened and he decided to take action. It wouldn't hurt her to be knocked down a peg or two, but she is the friendliest and favorite hen of the flock, so I draw the line at injuring and terrorizing her. So far this morning she has been hiding out in the coop while the others are in the run and hides in a nest when he comes in. I will be letting them out into the yard this afternoon and see how it goes. If he continues to attack and terrorize her, i guess I will have to get rid of him. As much as I love having him to protect and take care of the girls, I don't want him attacking any of them to the point of injury. I will see how it goes in the yard today and tomorrow to see if everyone settles in.
    Thank you all for your input! I appreciate it!
     
  7. jlholm

    jlholm Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 12, 2013
    Western New York
    My Coop
    Well, I thought things were going to smooth out, but they did not. My rooster continued to try to attack my hen through out the day when he saw her. Especially if she tried to enter the coop or the run. I was hoping this was just a case of him having to show her that he was boss and once he had subdued her, life would go on. But that didn't happen today. How long can I let this go on? I don't want to let him injure her, or worse! She is not still standing up to him. She is absolutely terrified as soon as she sees him even coming into the vicinity and runs for cover. Once today when he had her cornered, even one of the young pulletts tried to join in. Until this happened yesterday, he has been a perfect gentleman. Always docile and friendly watching out for everyone, although the older girls pretty much kept to themselves away from the younger group. I don't want to have to get rid of either one, but I'm really concerned about how to fix this before bad weather moves in and they are more enclosed in the coop and run.
     
  8. jlholm

    jlholm Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 12, 2013
    Western New York
    My Coop
    How long does it go on? He seems to be really trying to injure her!
     
  9. jlholm

    jlholm Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 12, 2013
    Western New York
    My Coop
    Is this something he could grow out of? We just love our cockerel, but the hen has been like a family pet the last 3 years and is the friendliest one of the flock. She follows everyone around and visits with everyone. I can't stand to let her be terrorized inside her "safe" place!
     
  10. Wyatt0224

    Wyatt0224 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 1, 2016
    Westminster, Maryland
    That is odd that it's still going on. I've never seen on here where a rooster tries to blatantly hurt or kill one of his hens.
     

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