Hen that won't mate being attacked by rooster

IQL

Chirping
Jul 29, 2020
56
64
83
My Lavender Orpington rooster is around 9 months old or so and has been a beautiful and gentle boy until 2 days ago. My oldest hen, a Majestic Maran, at least 2 years old, has never let him mate with her. She's the queen of the flock and is respected by the other hens. She is moulting heavily now which seems to have made her weak and vulnerable. The rooster has noticed and has been attacking her as she is no longer able to stand up to him. He is not mating but actually pecking her hard. I tried putting the hen in a separate small coop where she could come out to roam with the others but the moment the rooster sees her he attacks her. I intervene when I see this happening. Yesterday he drew blood from her comb which was enough for me to put the rooster in the small coop instead and leave the hen out with the others. The rooster is not happy but I have read from others that a time out may improve his behaviour. The hen joined the others in the regular coop without issue. The moulting stage is far from over so I'm not sure what I can do to keep the hen safe from the rooster. How long should I keep him separated? Or should the hen be separated? I love them both, as I do all my chickens, so can't bear parting with either. I am really hoping to curb the rooster's violent attacks on my Maran. I hope that somebody in this group has been able to successfully deal with a similar situation and keep both chickens. Thank you in advance.
 

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Bigtom Turkey

Crowing
Nov 29, 2020
1,770
3,165
316
Indiana
I would keep them separated until she has completed the molt. Monitor closely upon returning him to the flock. It is not unheard of for a rooster to kill a dominant hen.
I have had many situations like this, and have never had a hen killed by a rooster. So, it would (IMO) be very rare, but yes seperate them, till she is finished.
 

IQL

Chirping
Jul 29, 2020
56
64
83
I would keep them separated until she has completed the molt. Monitor closely upon returning him to the flock. It is not unheard of for a rooster to kill a dominant hen.
Thank you! Should I keep the hen separated in the small coop or the rooster? This moult could take a while.
 

IQL

Chirping
Jul 29, 2020
56
64
83
Thank you!
I have had many situations like this, and have never had a hen killed by a rooster. So, it would (IMO) be very rare, but yes seperate them, till she is finished.
Thank you. Somewhat reassuring to hear that such situations may not be so unusual. Should I keep the hen separated in the small coop or the rooster? This moult could take a while.
 

IQL

Chirping
Jul 29, 2020
56
64
83
I would keep them separated until she has completed the molt. Monitor closely upon returning him to the flock. It is not unheard of for a rooster to kill a dominant hen.
I would keep them separated until she has completed the molt. Monitor closely upon returning him to the flock. It is not unheard of for a rooster to kill a dominant hen.
I have had many situations like this, and have never had a hen killed by a rooster. So, it would (IMO) be very rare, but yes seperate them, till she is finished.

I would keep the roo separate. Just like putting the bully in timeout, not the victim (as long as she had no issues w the others).
Thank you. That was my thinking when I put the rooster into the small coop - he's the problem not her. I hope the time out works because he really is a good rooster in every other respect.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,046
22,696
907
Southeast Louisiana
I had a situation that might sound familiar though it had nothing to do with molting. A cockerel was raised with the flock. Around 6 months of age he started mating with some of the pullets and hens low in the pecking order. Not the hens higher in the pecking order. The dominate hen would knock him off if he tried to mate a pullet or hen when she could see him. As he got older more hens accepted his advances but the dominate hen never did.

When he reached 11 months of age he decided he was ready to take over as flock master. Instead of running away from the dominate hen he stood up to her bullying and fought back. He won. For two days he kept her away from the rest of the flock. If she got close he'd run at her and try to peck her on the head. It was pretty vicious but no blood was drawn so I left them alone, though I did watch. After two days she let him know that she accepted his dominance and they became best buddies.

Some hens will squat for about anything in spurs, but many mature hens want a male to demonstrate that he will be a good father before they let him mate. Cockerels have to mature to a certain point before they can meet those standards. Some hens have higher standards than others.

In my opinion my cockerel was weaker than he should have been. He should have had a stronger personality and been able to win over all the hens based on his magnificence and self-confidence. But that hen was also strong. She was not ready to give up her flock master status. Some hens can be that way. That's not the way it's supposed to work. A hen can be the dominant hen but the rooster needs to be the flock master so he can perform his duties. Dominant hen and flock master are different roles when you have a mixed sex flock.

Each time is different. I had one cockerel be accepted by all the hens at 5 months. That's only happened once, pretty rare. Most if my cockerels are able to take over the flock master position at around 7 months and usually quite peacefully. Then that one time it took 11 months and was violent. The personalities of the cockerels has something to do with that but I also think the personalities of the hens has a lot to do with how peaceful that process is.

You want to keep both of them. At some point he has to take over as flock master. That will happen. That can be violent so there is a risk of injury. I chose to let mine work it out on their own since I did not see any injury. Yours drew blood, you need to separate them. When she heals you can try again and see how it goes. Or you can keep them separated for a while. I would not worry about her completing the molt but more giving him time to mature some more and gain self-confidence so she might be more willing to accept him instead of fighting. To build his self-confidence and just to see how he reacts when he is the unchallenged flock master I'd leave her locked up. When in that position you may find that he isn't such a great rooster after all.
 

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