My Hens Are Fighting Suddenly

asiajuli

Hatching
Jun 20, 2021
1
0
2
I have two hens, Pickles and Sparkles. They grew up together. They’ll both be one years old in October. They absolutely loved each other. They’d fight pigeons together, eat together, sleep together. They would always lay eggs near each other as well. They always ran to each other for comfort. Pickles is usually confident and in charge. Sparkles is usually scared all of the time and won’t do anything without Pickles.
Suddenly, Sparkles, who has been lower “rank” for nearly a year, has been grabbing Pickle’s vent and has been making her bleed like crazy. I even found Sparkles standing on top of Pickles yesterday. Their rank has switched. Pickles won’t do anything without ME. When they free roam, Pickles hides behind my leg or runs to the door and pecks the door so she can come in the house with me. Sparkles keeps chasing Pickles and making Pickles hurt. Pickles keeps jumping into my arms for comfort. Pickles has jumped on me since she was a baby but now it’s because she’s scared. I never knew ranks could switch so suddenly and that a chicken could get so attached to me. This is my first time with chickens, so can someone please give me advice on what to do about their fighting? I know it’s natural but at this point I think Sparkles is into cannibalism. It’s not pecking anymore, she’s trying to tear my little Pickles apart :(
 

azygous

Enabler
12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
26,042
40,145
1,232
Colorado Rockies
For such a sudden change from peace to conflict, there is almost always a precipitating event, some change that has disrupted the normal relationship between these two. Try to think back to when this suddenly began and what also occurred at that time in the presence of these two.

Correcting it may or may not cause things to return to the way they were though. What's happening is that Pickles started getting bullied, and then Pickles became convinced that this was how things are going to be from now on, and so she's fallen into the role of chronic victim.

With Pickles settled firmly into that role, Sparkles is triggered by Pickles behavior as a victim, and this makes Sparkles even more of a bully. You see this with human children all the time. In fact, this occurred in my own family as I was growing up.

The secret to changing the dynamic is to nurture the victim out of the victim role and back to being her old self confident self. Yes, it can be done. Here's how. https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/chicken-bully-chicken-victim-a-two-sided-issue.73923/
 

saysfaa

Crowing
Jul 1, 2017
1,234
2,786
281
Upper Midwest, USA
It's the blood. When a chicken bleeds, the rest of the flock goes at that spot - often to the death even if the original injury was very minor.

If it is minor enough and taken care of soon enough it doesn't change much of the flock dynamics. Treat by covering the red color of the blood (with purple spray, usually) may allow it to heal without separating. Or you can separate until it heals.

If it isn't minor enough to be taken care of in a short time frame or it isn't taken care of soon enough, then I'm not sure how much it changes the flock dynamics. If targeting the spot is well established then it is much harder to get safely past it; I think I remember grandparents saying they never do but I'm not surd I remember that or, even if I do, that it is necessarily true.
 

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