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hen's ganging up on one of their own- seasonal pattern?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by neillhowell, Aug 16, 2010.

  1. neillhowell

    neillhowell Hatching

    Aug 16, 2010

    I've lived with this flock of nine mixed breeds for a little over a year now and think I'm noticing a seasonal pattern. It seems that in the early summer one or more become broody and towards the end of summer they either hatch eggs or give up on it. At that time they all are starting to look sort of ratty and they seem to become meaner. Last year they put a Poland on the bottom of the pecking order and made life so miserable for her that she stopped roosting in the chicken house at night and eventually was killed by a raccoon one night while sleeping in a tree in the yard. This year it's a Chochin that the hens are all attacking. They've cleaned her head of all feathers and mount her repeatedly, then peck at her head. It's brutal and I'm separating her from the flock for now. I'm wondering if this is a known seasonal pattern and we should expect them to be nice to her again in a few months. Another idea was that she is the smallest and that is why she's being picked on, but i wonder if she wasn't in the flock, if they'd find a different hen to pick on. I'm guessing they are using her to demonstrate that the other are NOT on the bottom of the pecking order.

    Thoughts, references, help? Should we expect to see happen every year about this time?
  2. wilmothfarms

    wilmothfarms Songster

    May 3, 2010
    Cecilia Kentucky
    I'm glad you posted this, I was just looking through to post this today, but was visiting about egg laying behaviors first! I've had this SAME problem twice now, and its happening again! It started when the weather turned much warmer. ALL my birds were raised together, they have tons of room in the coop and yard. Then suddenly they seemed to single out one hen, who actually was NOT low in rank and someone picked a fight with her. Once that happened they all began to pick on her. She got so depressed she stopped eating, the pecking kept happening, they pushed her out of food when she would come around. I would have to feed her separate. But she eventually stopped eating and not coming out of the coop at all and I found her dead one morning. They had pecked one of her eyes in the first fight I was doctoring and she actually lost it, it seemed like a sign that they all just picked up on.
    THEN I had gotten 5 new birds, they were bantams (I had all standard birds except for 2 bantams that I loved which is why I wanted a few more) and they did the same thing to one of them, they pecked her eye and she almost lost it. I caught it in time to save it, but they soon killed her and I found her dead in the morning. Thing is, I had them separated where the bantams could get from the coop to a separate run in the day that the big birds couldnt get too and for weeks there were no problems. They killed her either at night or early morning. NOW my poor rooster had a hen attack him and again...pecked his poor eye!!!! I'm at a loss! He has begun to lay around just a bit more and I'm wondering if I need to separate him NOW before he gets depressed. But let me tell you, he is NOT happy at all and I dont want to make him mean being away from the flock. I just dont know what to do at this point. I hope this reply bumps your post up and someone answers!!!!
  3. neillhowell

    neillhowell Hatching

    Aug 16, 2010

    Are you also noticing a seasonal pattern to this behavior? Are you also finding they become meaner towards the end of summer?


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