Hens killing each other or is it our duck????

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by oliveoil, Jan 25, 2012.

  1. oliveoil

    oliveoil In the Brooder

    May 14, 2009
    Columbus, Ohio
    My husband and I are freaking out. We have, make that HAD 4 wheaten maran hens that we've raised from chicks to their current age of 10 months and all of a sudden they're attacking and killing each other. Yesterday one was bleeding from a hole in the side of her back and in the morning she was dead. Today another hen is bleeding from the same place, side of her back and I moved her to our "bunny house". I'm guessing she's going to bleed out but I don't know what to do to help her.

    We have a large run in type coop with an attached run about 14 feet long by 8 feet wide and 6 feet tall. The run is covered in wire and plastic (for winter). There are several different perches and two large nesting boxes. We also have a trio of muscovy ducks in with the hens. Our muscovy drake somehow hurt his leg about a week ago and I'm wondering if he's trying to mate with the hens and causing a tear in their back with his claws and this is causing the other hens to see blood and peck her to death. Do you think this is a possibility??? Other than that, I can't imagine why they would start killing each other. They have plenty of feed (layena pellets and corn) and fresh water.

    I'm afraid the next time I go out, another hen will be bleeding or already dead. As for predators, what would squeeze in and wound a hen like this and just leave without eating her? We live in the suburbs but have seen skunks, raccoons and a coyote in the neighborhood before.

    Does anyone else keep ducks and chickens together?

  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    So this is definitely happening during the day?? No possibility that it's happening at night (they are secured indoors at night)??

    I know nothing about ducks, so can't give any input there. But if you have a feather plucker (chicken), then I suppose they could peck enough feathers out to cause minor bleeding, which then would attract the others to continue to peck. If that was the case, I'd get rid of the corn (feather plucking is often - but not always - a sign of not enough protein) and find ways to bump up protein (game bird feed, meat scraps, etc.). You could also try hanging a cabbage head in the run as a pecking distraction.
    I'd also suggest sitting out there to observe for a while, since this is the 2nd time it's happened. Good luck-hope you figure this out...
  3. stone_family3

    stone_family3 Songster

    Apr 11, 2011
    Do you have any cages to put them in? I'd seperate them for the time being. All of them in their own space. Then I'd slowly put them back out leaving your male duck for last.
  4. kgdubois

    kgdubois Songster

    Apr 26, 2011
    West Texas
    I used to have two Pekin ducks in with my flock, and they got along great for awhile. I started hearing my birds kick up during the day, and would run out to check on them...thinking there was a predator. For about a week this went on, and I never could find anything that would be making all my birds so upset. Finally, I caught my Pekin drake and my Cuckoo Marans rooster going at it...this time, they were so into fighting that I literally had to whack them with a stick to get between them & break up the fight. I am convinced that if I hadn't been home, one of both of them would have been dead. I gave the ducks away, and my chickens have been perfectly happy since then.

    I do not know whether or not this was typical behavior (the fighting, I mean) or if it was just my birds. But I can say that once the ducks were gone, my chickens were much happier and function much better as a flock without the ducks around. If I had to guess, I'd say the ducks are the culprits (and I still love ducks, don't get me wrong!). I would love to have ducks again some time, but for now I do not have the space to have two seperate coops, etc. to support that.

    Good luck!
  5. oliveoil

    oliveoil In the Brooder

    May 14, 2009
    Columbus, Ohio
    Thanks everyone!

    My husband went out to observe them for a while and checked for sharp areas in the coop and run. He did see our male muscovy trying to mount the hens! We put him in a rabbit hutch in our bunny barn. He will stay in "jail" until we figure out what to do with him, I wanted to have him for dinner but hubby thought that was too harsh of a punishment. He definitely won't ever go back in with the hens. The second injured hen is loose in the bunny barn and she seems to be doing fine. I thought for sure she would bleed out.

    I will hang a cabbage for the remaining 2 hens and 2 ducks. The females seem to get along fine together but we will keep a close eye on them and separate the ducks and chickens in the spring when we can finish fencing off our property.
  6. Glad you figured out what was going on. I have read many times on this forum that male ducks can kill hens (chickens) trying to mate with them. We free range our ducks and chickens and pen the ducks separately at night to prevent this type of issue. Could you just build a pen for the ducks and let the drake go back with his hens?
  7. Hunter0704

    Hunter0704 Chirping

    Sep 8, 2011
    Wentzville, MO
    X2 Ducks have a penis and chickens have no way to accept it...therefore, your duck is probably trying to mate with your chickens and this is where the blood and holes are coming from on your chickens. Separate the ducks into separate living quarters from the chickens, or rehome the ducks if you want to keep your chickens.

  8. coldeb02

    coldeb02 Hatching

    Feb 25, 2016
    Rogers, Arkansas
    So now i have to separate my ducks from my chickens..... A black hen was dead this morning.... Her rear all bloody and when i looked at my ducks their bills and heads and necks were all bloody with the acception of one male whose belly and rear were bloody. my guess is he raped her and it killed her since hens have no way to take that, and then the ducks tried to eat her cause she was bloody..... None of my other hens are bloody so i know it must have been the ducks, also my night pen is a wooden barn i built special for the birds with nest boxes and roosts with no way for predators to get in, so i know it wasnt a fox or coon.

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