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Laying Hens Attacking/Killing Other Laying Hens?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by MuckBucket, Jun 8, 2011.

  1. MuckBucket

    MuckBucket In the Brooder

    Jun 8, 2011
    We had a flock of 12 pullets that just started laying about a month ago. There are Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons, Amerucanas, Cochins, Brahmas, and Australorps. It seems like when they started laying was when they became aggressive towards eachother. They have free choice layer feed and get fresh veggies, we thought maybe there pen was too crowded so now they are in a very large enclosure with our mini horses. However we are still finding dead hens, it seems like they are being attacked while laying because there's always an egg near the dead body. We are thinking that it may be the Buff Orpingtons, they are the only ones that have not died, we are currently down to four Orpingtons, one Rhodie, one Brahma, and two cochins.....any help would be great! It's a very sad and frustrating stituation.

  2. Blue

    Blue Songster

    Apr 6, 2010
    That's very odd. Are there any visible wounds to the chickens' bodies? If they're getting attacked by other chickens, I'd think there would be torn and bloody combs and general damage to their faces. If there's no sign of injury, it could be possible that they had heart attacks or some other medical issue.
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I am thinking that you might have a predator. A mink or a weasel perhaps, check their necks, are they broken?

    A chicken will peck an injured hen, sometimes to death, but you would be seeing this action, not just finding a dead chicken. And while they may peck at a hen that gets too close, a healthy hen will get out of reach if at all possible. If you have introduced a new hen, they original flock can become quite aggressive to the stranger, but they seldom turn on a long term flock mate, unless there is a prior injury or illness.

    I am pretty sure you have a predator, usually a coon will just take the hen, but a mink or weasel won't.

    Last edited: Jun 8, 2011
  4. MuckBucket

    MuckBucket In the Brooder

    Jun 8, 2011
    They're whole vent area is ripped open, we think they pass from shock, there's blood on all the other hens heads from what ever happened. The rest of their bodies are fine, no missing feathers, no broken necks. And this flock has been raised with eachother from day one, could it be the sounds new layers make when laying eggs that just set off the agressive hens? We have a bobcat that occasionally prowls but we know what type of damage he does and its nothing like this.[​IMG]
  5. mdbokc

    mdbokc Songster

    Jun 22, 2009
    Oklahoma County, OK
    If you have a dead chicken with open wounds, the others will check them out and I can see them getting blood on their heads. I am also inclined to think you have a predator getting them at the most inopportune time. However, why the others are not injured is creepy. Too bad you can't get a recording of events in the coop.
  6. mrs918

    mrs918 Chirping

    Jan 14, 2011
    I have nothing helpful to add, but I sure hope you can solve it. How horrible for you and the chickens! So sorry n good luck!
  7. Brown Farmer

    Brown Farmer In the Brooder

    Jul 28, 2010
    It appears to me like when the vent is turned out while laying, it attracts pecking. Once blood is drawn, it is a free for all. I would recommend debeaking.

  8. flnatv

    flnatv Songster

    Apr 7, 2011
    West Tennessee
    I an new, but have been lurking for quite a while...

    I have seen instances if there is an egg still inside the hen when it dies... the muscles will relax and the egg will... well.... come out...

    sounds like a predator to me and once the chicken is dead... the egg is released.

    I also agree that if a chicken is dead.. the others will inspect... most likely why you have bloody chickens...
    Unfortunately this CAN (didn't say WILL) lead to canibalism...

    If I am wrong... someone... PLEASE correct me (I don't want to pass on the wrong information to someone and it won't hurt my feelings at all)

    I was raised around people with BO and they are usually the sweetest birds... not really thinking they are the ones doing the killing... but I could be wrong again.

    Edited: re-read about the vents... ??? above poster could be completely correct... no experience with that
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2011
  9. MuckBucket

    MuckBucket In the Brooder

    Jun 8, 2011
    Thanks for the advice. I'm still not thinking its a predator, they are in a pen thats bobcat proof so I would imagine we would see some breaking and entering if it were a predator. Plus I'm pretty sure the mini horse would have something to say about a predator in her area. Should I give them more variety of food? Could they kust be board and curious about the red vent while the lower chickens are laying? All the advice is great! Thanks!
  10. dinahmoe

    dinahmoe Songster

    Sep 19, 2009
    central georgia
    Quote:what kinda of nest box are they laying in?mine are in a 12x12 wooden box with shavings and no one can see the vent while laying.
    could you have rats?
    maybe put up a game camera and lets see what is going on.
    can you post pics of their coop and nest boxes?maybe that will help.
    oops,can't post pics yet,maybe someone can help you with that.

    sorry this is happening. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2011

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