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My Chickens just started fighting!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by CoolClucker, Dec 29, 2013.

  1. CoolClucker

    CoolClucker Chirping

    Mar 10, 2013
    Central USA
    My chickens are six months old, all raised together since they were days old. 13 hens and 1 roo. They have always gotten along together fine, aside from mild bickering such as pulling on feathers, etc. Anyway, today I go out to check on them, take them some scratch, and all of a sudden Penelope attacks Annie! Just out of nowhere! And Penelope is usually very sweet. I noticed that Annie's comb was scabbed, as if this wasn't the first of it. Yesterday they were fine, today fighting. Annie ran back into the coop and was terrified. Even of me. Finally she comes back out and as soon as Penelope sees her she bee lines for her and chases her back in. I don't get it! Any idea what is going on? How can I fix this? They just started laying about two weeks ago, I don't know if that has anything to do with it or not. They have to live together, there's only one coop and one run. I'm at a loss. Any help is much appreciated.

  2. GreenSahara

    GreenSahara In the Brooder

    Dec 8, 2013
    Sorry about your troubles. Is it possible that they are pecking the wound on her comb because of cannibalistic behavior? What is their diet like? I have had chickens with open sores(due to predator attacks) and the other chickens never stop picking at it. I usually have to move the chicken to another pen.
  3. Assuming that all your hens are all the same size, and breed or variety, the behavior you described is common in a flock of hens, and hens are all you have now because I don't expect your baby cockerel to step up, be a chicken man and keep the peace for another several months.

    Generally speaking if a hen mates with a mature rooster he will protect that hen from overbearing members of the flock. Some chicken breeds are less passionate than others and if that is the case with your birds your cockerel may be satisfied with the harem he currently possesses.

    There is a hierarchy in chicken society called the pecking order. Penelope is obviously a high ranking hen and if Annie is not at the bottom of the hierarchy she is near the bottom. Penelope attacks Annie for no other reason that we humans can see other than Annie allows it. Separating them is usually fruitless because often another hen will assume Penelope's or Annie's place in society. Segregating Penelope may have the effect of allowing another hen to rise to prominence. This may give Annie some breathing room but it is at Penelope's
    expense. Also you said that your pullets just started laying. If Annie is nor laying yet in my experience the other hens look down on her.

    The damage to Annie that you described is very, very minor. I recommend that you do nothing yet but that you do monitor the situation carefully. If your baby rooster steps up he will more or less put Penelope in her place because a mature rooster views his hens fighting as a direct threat to his place in the flock. One thing to look for is if Annie is able to roost with her sister hens or whether she is forced to roost alone or segregate herself. Flock members like to roost together and any that don't are outcasts. This is especially true of roosters or hens of non-reproductive status.

    Blood or the color red on a chicken where it isn't supposed to be is an OPEN invitation for every member of the flock to join in and peck the unlucky bird to the point of canalizing it. Just as the previous poster said his birds were doing.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2013
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Free Ranging Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Agreed - sounds like they're working out their pecking order. There's really nothing you can do about it. I suppose you can separate the bullying hen, but that will just cause the others to have to sort things out all over again. Every time you add or subtract from the flock, you upset their balance and pecking order and they have to start all over agian. If you're concerned about the blood, you can get some Blu-Kote to put on it. I've never had to use it, but others here have and say it's very effective.

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