My Hens Seem Too Insecure Without a Rooster

BroodyCluck

Songster
6 Years
Apr 26, 2014
119
141
136
Cleveland, Texas
I had a perfectly happy chicken family up until last fall when I had another chicken attack by a dog belonging to a neighbor down the road. I lost my rooster and two hens leaving me seven hens all laying. The hens seemed to be very grieved for several days but after that seemed as if they had gotten over it. Things were quieter with Mr. Rooster gone although it was sad he had to be killed. My neighbor next to me had made comments in the past about the rooster waking him but he was kind about it and said it was fine. So I wanted to get another rooster but decided against it because this man lost his wife just a few months before this and I just do not know if he was dropping a hint about the rooster meaning that it disturbed him. Anyhow, all my hens began going across the road to a field where a beautiful big pig lived. Usually they stayed on my side of the road before and when they did this I became concerned. I do not know the people well but I saw the pig owner outside one morning and spoke to him about it and he said he had no problem with the hens being there. There was little I could have done to stop them anyhow except lock them in the chicken pen and the last time I tried that they almost killed one another and I had to listen to squawking loudly all day and feathers everywhere in the pen. Once they started free ranging, there was no going back it seemed. I think I would have to just give them up before I could keep them penned up.
Anyhow it all seemed to go well with them and I thought that it was a good deal because maybe a dog would not go over into that fenced area where a big pig the size of that one was and they always came home to lay in their nest even though there was a big open barn for the pig. Each time I saw the pig napping the chickens were all close by him. Then when the pig walked around they all followed him. The chickens never left there except to come home to lay and then right back until the end of the day to come home and roost. They seemed very contented with the new way of life. I started noticing that their food pan would look untouched because they were not eating it. It became very obvious that they were not even touching it. I never like any food in the pan before they roost for the night thinking of rats or mice may get into it so I always got rid of it. I began just putting a scant little bit into the pan and even it was not touched. Finally, I got rid of that food and bought a fresh bag incase it was bad or something but they still didn't touch it. I eventually stopped feeding them at all after weeks of throwing it out at night it was just ridiculous to waste my time and the cost of the food. I told my nephew that complained of the price of feeding his chickens that , my chickens are totally independent and do not cost me anything and I just keep a little water for them just incase and that he should let his chickens free range. He refused because of thinking about all the animals in the wild around him. My nephew and other people I knew all said their chickens had stopped laying when winter came but mine laid all the way through the winter seriously never even slowed down.
About mid March one morning I woke up to my hens yelling loudly at my door as if there was an attack. The man next door came out with his gun believing that they were under attack. After looking around no reason could be found for the yelling but they continued. At first it did not dawn on me to feed them but finally I did think of it toward the end of the day but they refused to touch it.This annoying sounds they made became a habit and I would try to ignore it but finally would come outside to just verify once again that there was not an attack going on. Finally, I saw the pig missing and knew that was the problem. The chickens would go over the fence to the pig's field and then all come screaming and squawking home. It was obvious that something had gone wrong. They still would not eat really but did peck around in the food a little after a while. I wondered if maybe there had been an attack over in the pig's yard and they were traumatized by it because they hardly settled down for days. I saw the man one day and asked him what happened to the pig and he told me that he had sent it to be butchered. So now I knew but my chickens kept up the act of being very loud at my door especially very early in the morning as if they woke up and forgot the pig was gone and went there and did not find him and came home bawling. Bawling is the sound that mostly describes all the noise they made. Awww my chickens had bummed off of this man's pig all late fall through winter up until mid March they were not independent and living off of the land as I had believed.
I went to the feed store and bought hog pellets and they began to eat again. I mix some hen scratch into it and they are getting a little more used to it. They have still not let up on egg laying and the shells have always been healthy and much stronger than the ones from the store. So this verifies to me that they are getting enough calcium maybe from the ground I don't know.
The next thing the chickens started doing was jumping the fence of another neighbor a little further down who has a horse. That horse wasn't game for it and would run them off. Plus I know the woman of that house would not stand for it either if she found it out and she would let me know in a heart beat and I was about to put them up and get rid of them and get me some chickens that had never free ranged but the chickens stopped it all but two. The two that continued to do it were my two Brown Susex and my favorite. One of them is missing now and the other one has stopped doing that so I feel quite sure the woman of that house made dinner of the missing chicken. I can see her in my minds eye telling her husband to kill and dress the chicken so she can have it for dinner. The chicken was a beauty all filled out, plump and flawless. I saw the lady in the local convenience store and we usually chat but she smiled from ear to ear and waved and ran away. Everyone knows she is not one to smile but whatever she did, sorry to change the subject here.
The latest thing is one of my hens had began to jump on the backs of the hens and do a perfect imitation of a rooster mounting a hen and the hens behaved as if she were a rooster. I thought this was harmless so I did not object to it until the hen started doing the little stance where it bows up and does a side step as if she may attack. I ignored that the first few times and then once when I shooed the hens away from my garden she jumped up and did attack me. Of course it didn't hurt much but left a small scratch on my hand, cut blood so, I took her to the pen and closed her up for the day. She hasn't tried to attack me again or threaten to but I saw her do that act of imitating a rooster on a hen again and decided that could lead her to being aggressive again so I again took her to the pen and kept her in there for the day. Now I haven't seen her try that again and it's been about a week. But the chickens continue to bawl and be loud at times. So I conclude that they need a rooster.
Gee, I hate to get a rooster again because they are so loud and I sure can not get a pig although I thought it over. Any suggestions? Do most hens do fine without a rooster?
 

bobbi-j

Enabler
11 Years
Mar 15, 2010
15,640
32,040
1,092
On the MN prairie.
Your hens will be fine without a rooster. Chickens don't do change well, and that was what you were seeing upon losing your rooster and when the neighbor's pig went away. They were not "grieving" so much as just adjusting to the change. They really don't experience human emotions. Sometimes a dominant hen will take on the role of a rooster. If you don't like the behavior of that hen, either eat her or find her a new home.

I'm more concerned about your chickens roaming the neighborhood. I would not appreciate someone else's chickens coming onto my property, eating the feed that I am spending money on, buying for my animals. Nor would I appreciate the neighbor's chickens tearing up my yard and garden. (This may not have happened yet, but when it does, you will have some unhappy neighbors.) Besides the fact that they belong on your property, if they are on the road, they are also in danger of being hit, and being a traffic hazard. Who do you think would be liable when someone comes down the road, sees your chicken the road and ends up rolling a car because they swerved to avoid it? Sounds to me like you need to build a larger pen and pen them up - for their safety, and to keep peace in the neighborhood. It's irresponsible to let them roam all over, and gives backyard chicken keepers a bad name.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 12, 2009
8,839
10,953
636
western South Dakota
I agree, mine don't like being penned up, after they have been out and about, but I do it fairly often. The more you do it, the less they will squawk.

With the birds free ranging, it is a real possibility that a predator and not your neighbor got them. Predators are all around us, both in the city and in the country. I am quite surprised you have not lost more than you have already.

Try looking at your run set up, adding some roosts, some hideouts. Throw some hay in there for them to scratch through.

Mrs K
 

BroodyCluck

Songster
6 Years
Apr 26, 2014
119
141
136
Cleveland, Texas
I intend to keep on without the rooster but they continue this screaming out even did it this morning. I know what you are saying about the chickens roaming on other's property and since one came up missing and still not returned, none of the other chickens have gone over there again. It is a road I mention but some would call it a trail seldom traveled and my neighbors tell me how they enjoy my chickens except for the one I mentioned. Her horse got aggravated and charged at them each time they did.
 
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BroodyCluck

Songster
6 Years
Apr 26, 2014
119
141
136
Cleveland, Texas
We have woods all around here and numerous wild animals and potential predators too but we also have gentle dogs that sound off . Even at the house across the road where the pig lived they have a huge dog that is an animal lover and has saved my hen's two times that I know of from possums and my own dogs are fenced in away from my chickens but if a wild animal predator type comes near them they are going to make the loudest noise ever and the other dog they let roam will come after it. It's not legal for their dog to roam but she is very good and mostly stays home and doesn't get into anything Rabbits and squirrels come and no dog barks or does anything. Sounds crazy but it has been that way all alone but the dog will not do anything when my neighbors down the road dogs come. I have been out there and ran them off myself but they have attacked when I am not around. They have been the only ones to ever kill my chickens. And if they did it I would know because they are messy and they have been seen by someone each time. The neighbors gave their word since the attack last fall that the dogs would never get out again. It is perfectly legal for my chickens to roam but it is illegal for those dogs to roam. Those dogs have also killed a couple of pet cats around here and they are on one man's hit list for that if they get out again because they are a danger to any small animal. Also they killed off another man's ducks he had in a pond. I have just lately started calling my chickens in the pen with food and putting them up early because I have to leave more lately. I am working on a plan to keep them confined more little by little.
 

Monguire

Songster
5 Years
May 18, 2014
164
59
116
Manassas, VA
It is perfectly legal for my chickens to roam but it is illegal for those dogs to roam.

It is perfectly legal for your animals to roam your property but not anyone else's property. Your rights as a pet/flock/stock owner begin and end at your property line. When one lets their pets/flock/stock meander onto another's property they are no longer under the owner's direct control and can be dealt with as nuisance-animals. Sure, decent folk would let you know and ask you to keep yer critters to your own property before doing anything drastic but the older i get seems like the fewer decent folk I run across.

There is a reason for the adage Good fences make for good neighbors. As I walk/drive through my neighborhood, it does my heart good to see young kids out playing, dogs out walking (attached to owners) and neighbors' chickens safely chickening on their own fenced (permanent or portable) property. Drop any combination of those same kids/dogs/chickens onto my property uninvited and I tend to get cranky real quick. Please don't let the fact that you have the lawful right to maintain a flock on (and only on) your property become a consequence that your neighbors must bear.

In regards to roaming/menacing dogs, if you cannot get satisfaction from the owner(s) and don't have the patience to deal with the bureaucratic-bloat associated with lawful resolution (animal control, police, civil court, etc), there is much advocacy on this board for S-S-S (shoot, shovel and shut-up). It is indeed a valuable tool for dealing with the consequences less-than-decent folk inflict on you and your flock by not controlling their animals. Sadly, it looks like you've possibly already seen the backside of S-S-S with your missing hen.
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BroodyCluck

Songster
6 Years
Apr 26, 2014
119
141
136
Cleveland, Texas
Alright, I was invited and I attended a cook out with neighbors last night and totally unrelated to this thread, my chickens were discussed and the fact that I am missing one. My neighbors are 100% good with my chickens roaming and the only one who's property they go onto that is not mine is, my neighbor next door who really enjoys them and saves dinner scraps for Saturdays when his 2 year old grandson comes so they can feed the chickens together and he knows all of the chicken's names. Then the family that had the pig who lets their dog run loose and the man has told me just after the chickens began suddenly going over his fence after the loss of their rooster, that he doesn't mind at all. That was in reply to me facing him and cutting to the chase and apologizing to him and determined that I would have to stop this but he assured me otherwise to my relief. Then they go to the edge of my sons yard but not much and took the liberty of jumping the fence of the neighbor who does not want them there but she said to me last night that it was no big deal because they have not been back so it was just something they tried briefly and her horse did not tolerate it so end of that. However, I still feel she may have taken care of the problem and dressed that chicken and I feel if I asked her she would admit it but I also realize she had that liberty while the hen went into the yard and like you and many others including me in some cases she does not want other animals in her yard. She is very straight forward. So, we are good.
My rights as a dog owner I must not allow my dogs to roam or I will be fined $250. and I don't do that, but there are no restrictions by law on my chickens. I am a good neighbor and everyone around here knows that and the thread I put here was not to get negative opinions expressed to me not related to why I posted and I regret it seeing how so many people feel offended by this but I could understand if I really was irresponsible. We are not on city lots with back yards and no one is upset with me about the chickens but those here.
In regards to the law officials here, we seldom have them out here in our community, and if we see one, everyone will be staring and wondering what bad has happened to have police come out. However, my next door neighbor who saw that last dog attack on my chickens while I was gone called the police to report the vicious dogs they did come and gave the owners a ticket and the man had his rifle at his side and told the officers that he would shoot the dogs if they came back. We have the rights to do that to protect what we own and do not have to hide it. The same man went up the road and got the owners telephone number so I could give her a call. He was more upset than I was about the attack. The woman assured me on the phone that one dog was going and the other one her husband was in the process of putting up a fence the dog would never get out of. She offered to replace my chickens and I just told her I would be happy just not to have the dogs come back because they are killers and how my neighbor would shoot them I told her of them other man who was going to shoot them on site over them killing cats and I worry about kids next. The dogs have never been back since about mid October, 2014.
 

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