need "homicidal chicken" advice PLEASE (still need more help)

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by patandchickens, Sep 7, 2008.

  1. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Her remaining sister having died Saturday morning, Maryanne is now alone in their tractor. She doesn't like this - she paces and frets, although the tractor is parked right alongside the blonde chickens' run so at least she can see and talk to other chickens.

    My intention had been to eventually put her in the blonde pen (2 chantecler pullets, one very henpecked chantecler cockerel, and "Hazelnut", a campine pullet responsible for all the henpecking). But Hazelnut has been pretty hard on the cockerel, removing all but two of his tailfeathers and pulling out the new ones that try to grow in plus a lot of the fluffy feathers around and under his butt, and some neck feathers.

    So I had this idea tonight. A wonderful idea <she says sarcastically>. I would put Hazelnut in the tractor with Maryanne; being on foreign territory perhaps she would be a bit better behaved, and it would give Maryanne a companion and give the cockerel's bottom a chance to heal.

    So at dusk this evening I put Hazelnut into the tractor. She stared at Maryanne. Maryanne stared at Hazelnut. Time passed. Then, Hazelnut had an idea. She grabbed a huge mouthful of Maryanne's wattle, pulled, and would not let go. Receiving a gratifying amount of squawking and flapping in response, she switched to the other wattle, which produced continuing effects. Happily, she hung on and bit down harder.

    Then Maryanne had a thought. "I do not like this chicken," was her thought. "I will kill her." And that is what she proceeded to try to do, very nearly successfully.

    Maryanne is probably about 30% larger than Hazelnut, but was significantly debeaked before I got her and that is probably what saved Hazelnut's life. Maryanne attacked with every weapon a hen has at her disposal, showing particular prowess at the "jump on top and then kick and peck real hard while the victim struggles to escape" technique. Hazelnut offered nothing but submissive - deeply submissive - posture, but Maryanne either did not understand or did not care. Feathers went everywhere. Also blood, as Hazelnut did manage to get a piece of Maryann'es nostril region at some point. Maryanne did not have to wait for a panel to award the bout to her on points, however; after about ninety seconds, she had Hazelnut lying on her back, neck at a weird angle, eyes mostly closed, not moving even when pecked.

    "Oh, that's just swell," I said, and opened the tractor to retrieve the body. Fortunately the body came back to life as I lifted her up, Maryanne attacked again, and I managed to re-separate the combatants and remove a thoroughly chastened and shell-shocked Hazelnut. There were feathers missing but no visible wounds so I put her back in the blonde pen, and while I watched them for about 10 minutes afterwards she just ate and drank quietly with no attempt to get after her blonde colleagues... so I *think* she will be ok in there.

    But, clearly I am not going to be putting Hazelnut and Maryanne in the same pen, ever. This was not a pecking-order fight, this was flat out attempted homicide. I don't blame Maryanne in the slightest, but now I do not know what to do with her.

    Option 1) I could leave her in the tractor, alone and cold at night, for another month or six weeks til the weather gets too frosty, then give her a 4x6 indoor-only pen for the winter where she can see the sussexes across the aisle.

    Option 2) I suppose I could try giving her a sussex 'friend' -- there is one I am not going to want to breed from and so would be willing to have her live separately -- but is that really likely to work any better? And it would result in *both* of them being in a 4x6 or 8x6 indoor-only pen all winter.

    Option 3) I suppose I could try putting her in the big pen with all the sussexes -- but I do NOT want her starting world war three or getting somebody hurt, especially not one of the two cockerels, so I am leery of this. OTOH if it did work, she could go out with them in their run all winter.

    Option 4) Technically I guess I could whine and complain and then build a one-chicken small pen, probably 4x4 with a TINY (like, 2x6) attached run -- there is room to do it and I could scrounge materials, but time is an issue. The run could not be any larger, b/c there is a drainage ditch *right* there along the building, and as it is the tiny run would probably flood occasionally.

    I am not going to eat her (I'm not opposed to it in principle, but she was one of the original three and has a lifetime Get Out Of The Stewpot Free card, as far as I am concerned), and I doubt anyone is going to want an almost 2 yr old sexlink who is laying only erratically at the moment.

    Votes and suggestions welcomed. I am really stumped, here.

    (And annoyed at myself... except that I honestly think, seeing them, that it would have proceeded exactly the same even if I'd waited a lot longer)


    Thanks in advance,

    Last edited: Sep 8, 2008

  2. hcammack

    hcammack Crowing

    Oct 5, 2007
    Well I would put her in the sussex pen they will all gang up on her so she can't do that much damage. When introducing birds to each other I have found it would be better to do it in a place where there is enough room for the new birds to escape. Even now my Ameraucana are at the bottom because they were not in the original 12. I have had allot of trouble with campamines but my neighbors dog took care of her for me and has never bothered a bird since [​IMG] She was truly possesed and an evil chicken maid everyone nuts even my dog and other hens and my family!

    Good Luck with these crazy birds!
  3. MrsChickendad

    MrsChickendad Songster

    Jun 18, 2008
    Lennon, Michigan
    Poor Maryanne! Now she is an attempted murderess when all she was doing was defending herself from the extremely rude Hazelnut. Perhaps trying a different companion in an adjoining cage might give a hint as to her preferences in friendship.

    Laughed out loud at your great story, (although sorry for the situation). Read it again. Laughed out loud again. Great writing!
  4. riderbecky

    riderbecky Songster

    May 4, 2008
    Ottawa Valley
    I would say put her in the sussex coop, if they are mature birds, maybe in a crate at first so that they can get use to each other. Then one night...put her on one of the roosts. The roosters should control the bickering that happens between the girls [​IMG]

    Its taken about 3 weeks for my 19wk olds to start tolerating the 9wk olds and that with lots of room to free range during the day.

    Good luck [​IMG]

  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Thanks guys!

    Overnight I had another thought. What if I tried putting Hazelnut in with the Sussexes? She was actually with them when they were all chicks (edited to correct/clarify: everyone except Maryanne is 18-19 weeks old, and they were all together in one big pen til about 7 wks, at which time I separated the chanteclers and Hazelnut into the other pen for space reasons). She was a bit of a troublemaker (biting and pulling out feathers and such) at the time, but not as bad as she's doing with the chantecler cockerel, whose bottom btw has new feathers pulled out this morning.

    If that worked, I could see if Maryanne could go in with the chanteclers, who are MUCH more peaceful and unaggressive than Hazelnut.

    Aaargh, this is so aggravating.

    Anyone in Ontario want a free campine hen? [​IMG]

    Last edited: Sep 8, 2008
  6. vfem

    vfem Yoga...The Chicken Pose

    Aug 4, 2008
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    I vote for a big mix in with the other chicks of the same age. When you have a group verses a group, I think that is better for the big picture. One on one can be scary as you've seen.

    Safety in numbers for the girls.
  7. pimpdaddywrinkles

    pimpdaddywrinkles In the Brooder

    Sep 11, 2008
    Being an old rancher, but new to chickens. I say time for the stew pot.

    Some animals just snap after change or stress.
    she has experienced both. it would be better for her, you and the rest of the flock.

    sorry if this seems harsh, but even my 7 year old know that if we get cockerel chicks they will be meat. we just don't need the drama and inbreeding. I know that she is a pet and it's hard to think of putting her down or eating her but trust me it usally is more humain to put her down than letter hurt the flock and be miserable.
    If you eat her you can have a little service and thank her for her life and for feeding your family.

    You can try ranging her but that may not make her nicer.

    I'm sorry, I'm not trying to offend.


  8. MagsC

    MagsC Queen Of Clueless

    Jul 27, 2008
    I guess if you are set against her being a meal, put her with a bigger group. I am sure its not an easy decision what to do.[​IMG]

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