Help with hen fighting!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by calliebwhelan, Jul 28, 2015.

  1. calliebwhelan

    calliebwhelan New Egg

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    May 6, 2014
    I have read all the threads in this forum and just can't get to the bottom of some recent behavioral problems, so am hoping for advice!

    We have 4 hens, all just over a year, raised together. They've been good together until two weeks ago. They are (in recent pecking order, before stuff started happening):
    A. Rhode Island Red
    B. Red sex link
    C. Buff Orpington
    D. Wyandotte

    We came home one night to see C getting attacked by A, B and D in the yard, repeatedly. We thought C was provoking it because she'd get really puffed up, would run around, and then they'd attack her. They were in the yard with no shortage of activities, so we don't think it was boredom. We separated C for 4 days and ruled out broodiness (she didn't care to sit in nest). After that separation, we put her back in yard with others and observed, and they all immediately began attacking her again.

    It became clear that B was the instigator (i.e. she'd start running at C, and then A and D would join in the attack), so we separated B for 5 days. A and D were just fine to C without B in the mix. When they were separated, they could see B through chicken wire; we just rotated B and A/C/D in coop and yard at different times.

    Last night, we tried putting B back out in the yard with everyone else--hoping that a few days away had re-set her at the bottom of the order--and she again led the other two in attacking C. They chase C until two of them can sit on her, and then peck at her head. They haven't drawn blood, but I think that if they weren't broken up, they'd do that (i.e. it seems more violent than just re-establishing pecking order).

    We are at a loss and would love any tips. We currently have B separated again (everyone else is getting along just fine without her), and this time, have her totally separate in the garage with no sightline to the other hens. Short of getting rid of B, any other suggestions for reestablishing peace in the flock?

    Thanks!
     
  2. nchls school

    nchls school Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 22, 2015
    Hens can get pretty vicious in their efforts for dominance, but usually it does not end in any serious injury. I think your hens need to wok their pecking order out. Separating them may just cause this behavior to be more drawn out. If they have plenty of room I would observe to ensure none of the birds are physically hurt and let them establish who is more dominant over who.
     
  3. pete267

    pete267 New Egg

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    Jul 27, 2015
    Hi Calliebwhelan, re your hens fighting,
    we have the same prob. We have a tiny Old English bantam who is a real menace to a much larger hen. One of a pair we got 2 months ago.
    Thinking that they would sort themselves out eventually, we left well alone. However as time goes on the little one is getting more aggressive especially in a morning when they are let out.She constantly persue's the big one all over never letting up. We were told to separate the aggressor out of the way and site of the others for about a month. Then when she is re introduced she will have to re establish her position in the pecking order.Not having a big enough space to get her out of sight of the others ,we have just isolated her in another place in the garden. The others are now all perfectly happy without the bantam. I daren't even mention about getting rid of her or my daughter will have a fit!
    Maybe if you have the space you could try this method? I've been keeping hens for 40 yrs off and on but have never come across one like this.
    By the way, we tried the anti pecking spray- no dice.
    I am curious to know how you get on, best of luck,
    Pete267.
     
  4. calliebwhelan

    calliebwhelan New Egg

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    May 6, 2014
    Thanks so much, and I'm sorry to hear you're having the same issue, Pete267. We tried putting them back together last night to "let them work the order out," but they attacked C, and when we didn't intervene, drew some pretty serious blood from several places on her head. They used both their beaks and feet to peck/scratch at her.

    B is now in the garage, and everyone else is happy and friendly without her. I had read somewhere that just 4 days apart would reset the order, putting B at the bottom, but 30! I guess we'll stay the course. It sounds like you're ahead of us in the separation clock, so I'd be curious to know how it goes when you do eventually put them back together.
     
  5. nchls school

    nchls school Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 22, 2015
    Thanks so much, and I'm sorry to hear you're having the same issue, Pete267. We tried putting them back together last night to "let them work the order out," but they attacked C, and when we didn't intervene, drew some pretty serious blood from several places on her head. They used both their beaks and feet to peck/scratch at her.

    Pretty serious stuff. Another idea I am using is to put all the birds in a new pen; a place that puts them all in the situation of having to reestablish themselves. Seems to be going OK, but my chickens weren't out for blood either.
    Good Luck.
     
  6. calliebwhelan

    calliebwhelan New Egg

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    May 6, 2014
    Hi Pete267, any luck in separating out your bantam troublemaker? We had our apart for 2 weeks and tried putting them back together today, but no change in bad behavior! I'd love to hear if your separation worked... Or if anyone has had luck in quelling an aggressor hen!
     
  7. pete267

    pete267 New Egg

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    Jul 27, 2015
    Hi Calliebwhelan, re the fighting-- we separated the bantam for only a few nights in the end. Things have gradually improved
    over the last few days. I reckon we are about there now with only a few minor skirmishes nothing like before thank goodness.
    When I looked this morn. it was all very peaceful out there. Fingers crossed. Thank you for asking. Sorry for the late reply, I dont get on my laptop more than a couple of times a week.
    Regards, Pete.
     
  8. calliebwhelan

    calliebwhelan New Egg

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    May 6, 2014
    Pete267, did you let them just duke it out at first, and then things settled down on their own? I fear letting them do that, as they keep drawing blood, but if that worked in the end for you, I might try a little more patience...

    thanks!
    Callie
     
  9. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    Try using pinless peepers. They work!
     
  10. pete267

    pete267 New Egg

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    Jul 27, 2015
    Hi Enola, Pinless peepers? Never heard of them, can you explain please.
    Pete267
     

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