Hens at War

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by figlette, Jul 23, 2008.

  1. figlette

    figlette Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 10, 2008
    I am so frustrated. Two out of our four hens are warring. Fred was a late addition to our flock and Hazel gave her a rough time for weeks after she first joined the family. I wouldn't say they were ever buddies, but they worked out some sort of peace treaty after awhile and had been tolerating each other well enough until a couple days ago when all hell broke loose. I think Fred finally had enough of being picked on and turned on Hazel. It is now Melrose Coop in our backyard. Both are missing feathers and Hazel's ear was bleeding last night. Fred is back to not coming out of the coop for fear of being attacked and with good reason because when she does come out she is attacked.

    The other two hens are traumatized. Alice now spends much of her time standing in the corner while Omlet is back to playing dead, which is her bizarre reaction to stress.

    I don't know what is going on. Could it be that they are close to first lay? Fred should be laying by now and Hazel is probably a few weeks off still. Is it a pecking order rematch? Hazel is top hen and Fred is bottom. Are they feeling pressed for space and taking it out on each other? We are at maximum chicken capacity. Or are their real last names Hatfield and McCoy?

    Anyone have any thoughts on how to get them through this? Or is it just time to re-home one of the opposing hens?
     
  2. arlee453

    arlee453 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    Lack of space can make battles worse - it can increase stress levels, and most importantly there isn't as much room for the 'victim' to get away from the aggressors.

    Maturing and hormones starting to flow can shake up an already established pecking order.

    I'd give them a few more days. (if there is no further out and out bloodshed) and if they can't work it out, you may have to rehome one just to keep the peace.

    A run 'large' enough for 10 chickens can be too small if you have only 5 but one is a really aggressive chicken...
     
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    How large is your coop? Hens will battle and battle, especially if there is not enough space to escape. I only occasionally have battles, which do last a day or two, but by day, they can run away from each other and hide as far as they can feel like running. Only once did I have a fight happen so bad that a young roo ran out into the woods and never came back.
     
  4. figlette

    figlette Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 10, 2008
    Thank you. I was about to send them to counseling this morning. I think we might have the aggressive hen conundrum of which you speak. Hazel has some opinions about things and expresses them with her beak. The good news is that we have a flock protector without having a rooster. The bad news is that our meter reader won't read the meter unless she is put away. Her breed is one that often sees spurs in the females, which makes me a little nervous.

    Here's hoping they can work things out without additional bloodshed or pushing each other into the kiddie pool. Ugh.
     
  5. figlette

    figlette Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 10, 2008
    Our coop is big enough for 4, but 2-3 is probably the more ideal number. I was not expecting to have 100% survival rate, which is how we ended up with 4. They are still unkind to each other free ranging, but not as violently so. I am uncomfortable leaving them out while we are not at home, but honestly considered it this morning after the most recent brawl. [​IMG]
     

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