Hen has become afraid of roosters- PANIC stricken when she is out!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by RuffledFeathers, Jan 10, 2010.

  1. RuffledFeathers

    RuffledFeathers Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 30, 2009
    Issaquah, WA
    I have 15 hens and 3 roosters. (One is leaving next week as he targets my 4 year old, and I am debating whether to keep one or two around.) All of the girls are OK with the boys except one. She used to be the dominant hen, and at some point in the fall, she stopped coming out of the coop. There were a couple girls molting, so I thought it was the case with her. But she never came back out, and it has been several months now. I have feed and water on a small shelf outside a pop door, so she eats and drinks just fine. She seems healthy, except she is missing a lot of feathers off the back of her head (maybe getting picked on?).

    She comes out to see me every morning, and sleeps in line with all the others, many times next to a rooster and it doesn't appear to be a problem. I don't notice any extra aggressive fights in the evening when they go into the coop, and she is not on the bottom rung.

    The problem becomes apparent when I take her out on a nice day (they free-range on the weekend). If I put her out to take a dust-bath, the roosters will stalk her and if I step away, they all chase her and jump on her at the same time. She is now so terrified that she will fly back up onto my shoulder if she sees roosters anywhere near, or run full tilt and hide anywhere she can find.

    None of the hens show any aggressive behavior toward her, but she has clear panic in her eyes when the roosters spot her. I feel really bad that her life has become so limited. Does anyone think that if I pare it down to one rooster that she may be able to re-adjust and tolerate him? Or does she have permanent Chicken Panic Disorder?
    I wonder if a good Chicken Therapist could help her work through her fears.
  2. Chook-A-Holic

    Chook-A-Holic Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 5, 2009
    Central, N.C.
    Most roosters have favorites and it seems that she is the favorite of all 3 of yours. If they were mine I would remove all of the roos for about a week while deciding which one I wanted to keep for the flock.
  3. lauralou

    lauralou Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 10, 2007
    Central Virginia
    I think Chook-A-Holic is right. That hen is too sexy for her own good. The missing feathers on her back and head are probably due to overmating.

    It's a good thing that you are rehoming one of your roosters. If it were me, I would start looking for a home for another one. Maybe only one rooster in the flock won't be too much.

    Also a good idea to take all the roosters out for a week or so. See how your hen does with that situation. You know, roosters aren't necessary at all. They sure are pretty, though!

    Another idea is to put a chicken saddle on her. That would give her some protection from the rooster's feet on her back.

    Good luck!
  4. Dixiedoodle

    Dixiedoodle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2007
    I have 11 hens and one roo, one of my BO is/has been bald since Aug.. My rooster LOVES her... She stays to herself much of the time. Eats, drinks, scratches does her fair share of 'hen-pecking' the other girls.. I think she would rather stay away from the flock so Barney (roo) will leave her alone... I am begining to think, that I need a dozen more girls!
  5. NellaBean

    NellaBean Graceland Farms

    Mar 4, 2009
    Broodyland, TN
    My Coop
    I have cochins like that.......at least 1 of my cochins was my RIR rooster's FAVORITE EVER. The cochin girls (3) started hiding in the coop all day.......I thought that was strange and caught the RIR rooster standing outside the door just waiting for one of them to make an attempt out....he even got to where he would breed them ON THE ROOST. They were miserable! Understandably.....

    I ended up locking that rooster up for a month or two......he was also too rough on my leghorns, so it was just the best option. Even though I had 2 other roosters, they were a bit more gentle with the girls and they started coming back out of the coop during the day to hang out. Eventually I was able to let the RIR rooster back out and he was much more polite with them......They were no longer freaking out or hiding, but were still being overbred by both the "bottom" roosters (RIR and Blue Andalusian). I sold the blue andalusian flock and now only have the two roosters (Jersey Giant and RIR). Everyone gets along great now, that rooster still enjoys the cochin girls, but is over his crazy hormonal streak and they are no longer afraid of him.

    I did have a few "gang rapes" where the RIR rooster would chase 1 of the girls down......the other roosters would run over to "help" rescue her, and end up joining in. Once I removed him from the situation, it all stopped.

    I would maybe watch and figure out who is the worst and take him out. Then see if the situation calms down a bit. You may want to pare down to just 1 rooster anyways.......
  6. cutlass1972

    cutlass1972 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 26, 2009
    I had at one point 8 roosters and 9 hens (long story about an unscroupulous local breeder). One poor little alstralorp hen seemed to be the fancy of all the boys (it was brutal). One day I was cleaning their coop and heard what sounded like a black hawk helicopter flying toward my head. I turned my head in just the nick of time to see a chicken flying right at my face. I instinctively put my arm up to protect my face and she landed on my arm and looked me in the eye, I swear I could hear telepathically "No more rapes.... please", she knew they would not bother her around me.

    I swear, I felt like beast master or something standing there with my trusty chicken on my arm.

    I had to put all of the roos in the deep freeze shortly after that, it was just getting out of hand and causing me much stress.
  7. RuffledFeathers

    RuffledFeathers Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 30, 2009
    Issaquah, WA
    Thanks everybody for the shared stories- that solidifies it for me. I am taking 2 roosters out of the mix next weekend and keeping the best behaved one. I will have a talk with him that I will choose the hens over him so he had better watch it. I think I will then separate him for several days to hopefully re-set my dear Buff Orpingtons behavior and get her back out with the flock.
    She is my favorite, too, so I can understand the roosters wanting a smart and beautiful girlfriend, but we need rules of conduct, fellas!

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