I need to vent about my hen's behavior . . .

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by fargosmom, Nov 15, 2010.

  1. fargosmom

    fargosmom Songster

    Dec 27, 2008
    Pasadena, CA
    Here's the back story - I started my chicken experience almost 2 years ago with two BR and two EE hens. The boss hen turned out to be one of the BR's, and the other BR was second-in-command. Boss hen was a benevolent dictator and everyone seemed happy. Unfortunately she got sick earlier this year and is no longer with us. Second-in-command BR took over as leader of the flock, but she's always been outright mean where the other one was just bossy. Still all three seemed to be getting along ok. Fast-forward to the past week. Both EE's have completed their molts and are looking glamorous, BR just started molting and is pretty raggy looking right now. BR has, in the last few days, become outright nasty to the other two hens. She charges them for no reason, chases them from one end of the run to the other, and if she even looks at them now they scream and run away. They're so on edge that she's keeping them away from the feeders and interrupting them when they're scratching for snacks.
    In addition, her eggs have come to all have very thin shells, in spite of constant oyster shell and layer feed. Most times they break as she lays them, and then she eats them, so many days I don't even see them . . . but when I do find them they're nearly unusable. The thin eggshell thing has been going on for at least three months at this point (and strangely she's still laying even though she's molting).
    So here's the dilemma - I'm somewhat tempted to get rid of her. She's making the other two miserable, she's not producing eggs (and eating those she does lay). But I feel like a horrible person if I cull her simply because her personality stinks. I don't have the room or facilities to keep her separated from them for more than a few hours (which I tried but it didn't change her behavior). I can't be with them 24/7 to mediate (she doesn't pull this behavior when I'm in the run with them). I've never seen the other two so freaked out as they've been lately - they're clearly not able to relax around her.
    Is the happiness of the other two birds a good reason to eliminate her from the group?
    I'm thinking yes . . . but if there's another solution I'm all ears.

  2. Ibicella

    Ibicella Songster

    Nov 13, 2009
    Everett, WA
    Darn. My suggestion was going to be separating her. Molting can make chickens crabby, and sometimes mean hens need to be removed for a while so they get knocked down a peg in the pecking order. I think separating really would really do the trick in a personality adjustment this case.

    But since you said this isn't a possibility, I agree that culling her from the rest is the best way to go. Put an add up for her on craigslist. She should work out just fine in someone else's flock.
  3. TomG

    TomG Songster

    Jun 26, 2010
    Lake Oswego
    If she layed good eggs and had not developed a taste for them I might be in her corner. As it stands I think I would give her away (with warning) or rename her "dinner".
  4. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    An unstable flock is a bad thing. Your BR sounds like a bully and a brute. Valid reasons to boot her out. And an egg eater, on top of it? She has to go! One rotten apple will ruin the whole bunch, as my grandma used to say. You should not feel guilty about doing whatever you feel is necessary to improve your flock dynamics. A healthy and happy flock will thrive and prosper, whereas an unhealthy flock will just stagnate and despair. If your gut feeling is that the flock would be better off without the BR, then make it so. I honestly think that if you remove the BR from the flock for a few days she will be a new hen when she is returned, but if you don't have the ability to do so, then you must do what you must do.

    Good luck.
  5. Tropical Chook

    Tropical Chook Songster

    Jul 5, 2010
    Sounds just like one of my hens in the past. One moment she was fine, and then she suddenly became obsessed with pecking any hen that she could. She would simply home in on one and then follow it relentlessly, pecking at it each time she got close enough. It was so strange that I thought she must have lost her mind. Anyway, I had had enough so I solved the problem by inviting her around to dinner. I would say, if you can't separate, then cull.

  6. fargosmom

    fargosmom Songster

    Dec 27, 2008
    Pasadena, CA
    Well I must say I was expecting to be slammed. Thanks to you all for being nice about this. I agree if I had facilities to keep her on her own I would, but that's the downside of having a backyard flock in a small backyard. Thanks for the input. I'll ponder awhile.
  7. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Songster

    Sep 4, 2008
    If you are unable to segregate her (even a large dog cage will do it), then you need to cull her for the sake of the other hens.

    Do not feel guilty. I think the guy on the Modern Marvels chicken show -- the guy who runs that wonderful, free range chicken farm they filmed -- said it best. He explained to the interviewer how he gave the chickens the best home they could have from the time they were hatched, until their "unhappy day." And believe me, his chickens live the Life of Riley. That is just the way it is -- you treat them very well through out their lives, but one day will be their "unhappy day," and they will be culled at that time.

    Sounds like that little lady's "unhappy day" is approaching, if she insists on acting like a brute.
  8. tuesdays chicks

    tuesdays chicks Songster

    Apr 26, 2010
    stuart florida
    I agree with everyone else, right now I'm waiting for 1 of my pullet to calm herself down and get through her molt, she is ok with the other girls but has become unfriendly with me, I was hoping to give her to someone but I can't until her attitude adjusts, I would find a dog crate for yours and keep her in it with food and water, until she finishes up her molt better yet 1 of the wire crates that has holes big enough for her eggs to fall through, so she can't get near to eat them, maybe she will forget she likes the taste of egg.
  9. Clay Valley Farmer

    Clay Valley Farmer Songster

    Sep 7, 2010
    Best thing to do with a non productive nasty chicken is surround her with dumplings and hold her close to your heart.

    Just ask your self which you would prefer, non productive mean old cuss of a hen messing with the rest of the flock or a happy productive hen. There is no need to tollerate this unless you decide you want to.

  10. Jess N Jeff

    Jess N Jeff Songster

    Oct 25, 2009
    South San Diego, Cali
    I am in your same boat...I have one crabby headmistress going through a complete molt right now. I know(hope) she will calm down and be back to normal once she is done with that molt but until then, she is a lone wolf. She screams all day and eats the eggs she lays and just is a general pain in my backside. If she comes out of this and is still being nasty to all the other ladies...she will be invited to a yummy chicken dinner!

    Sorry you are having a hard time. [​IMG]

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