New to pheasants why would a cock kill a hen?

houndit

There is no H or F in Orpington!
11 Years
Jul 13, 2008
2,231
103
244
Braymer Missouri
I got my first Yellow Golden Cock last June. He came with my peafowl. He was so gorgeous that a few months later I bought him two hens. They seemed to live in absolute harmony until the other day. I observed him harrassing her which I had never seen before. I attributed this to the approach of breeding season. Next thing I know she has a hole in her head. I aeparated the cock for over a week till she healed. Than let him back out. First day was fine. Second morning she looked OK. He chased her a litle but did not seem to be hurtting her. That evening she was dead, picked to death. I was shocked and furious. Is this normal? How can I prevent it from happening again?
Thanks!
 

chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
4,905
655
296
Australia
Males killing females is not 'normal', not in the 'healthy' sense of the term, but many unhealthy behaviors are common so one might describe them as normal though they are byproducts of human intervention and so not natural. Most cases of extreme aggression, regardless of gender or age of the victim or attacker, are not 'normal' but are directly or indirectly caused by our breeding, feeding, and housing arrangements sustained over thousands of generations.

She may have been faulty, which normally would have been my first expectation, but experience with domesticated or long-term-captive animals teaches me that in most cases it's because the killer is faulty, not the victim. If he was wild, or very close to it, and I don't mean non-tamed but domestic for thousands of generations, but actually wild, then I'd think there was some fault with her. If he's from totally captive born stock he may just be one of those excessively aggressive ones, they're common enough. So, technically, it could be 'normal' but so is cannibalism and many other neurotic or antisocial behaviors.

In other animals I'd recommend killing or otherwise culling out the male, but if you're anti-hybrid I assume you have put in significant time and investment into securing good bloodlines with a view to preserving the species. (Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). So you may want to just keep him with the female he accepts and make a note to possibly keep a closer eye on his male offspring for aggression towards their mates, so if you see it in his sons you do not put the hens back in with them after the initial attack, and preferably separate her before it escalates if ever you see the warning signs again.

It's a little surprising you put the hen back in with him after the first attack; that level of violence was severe enough to indicate the hen should never be put back in with him. Harassing aggressively, being violent, are not natural signs of sexual attraction, and should be considered warning signs, not something that will resolve itself.

In some breeds of some species we have managed to combine sexual instinct with aggression, so brutality to breeding partners is not uncommon, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea to breed on with. Plenty of roosters attack hens as they mate with them, and when they're not mating too, it's just how some are these days.

If he doesn't harm the first hen, maybe it was a one-off, maybe there was some fault in the hen like a seriously bad genetic issue or disease that he could detect, and maybe it won't happen again. Here's hoping anyway. Rare bloodlines are too rare to waste on antisocial/destructive individuals who kill instead of mate, lol.

If he can't function normally maybe he can be used for AI? He might pass on his aggression, if it is inherited, though.

I recall one issue in recent years with a rare species, of which there were only 20 individuals left, wherein an adult male was seeking out and killing adult females as well as juveniles, and for some reason they allowed this terminal behavior to continue instead of killing or capturing him. Does not make sense, lol. How precious does one individual have to be, genetically, to be allowed to destroy a large percentage of their species' last survivors?

Best wishes.
 

houndit

There is no H or F in Orpington!
11 Years
Jul 13, 2008
2,231
103
244
Braymer Missouri
Thank you for your response. He us nothing special just a run of the mill Yellow Golden. My anti hybrid stance relates only to the comnercial chicken world in particular the cornish rocks. I hate them! Back to the subject. The hen did have a deformed foot. I was not planning on making a business out of these but rather simply wanted to have a few beautiful birds for my own enjoyment. I was not really concerned with her foot because of this. Could her deformity have caused his attack? After this I would certainly never put a hen he attacked back with him. I suppose it was rather immature to put him back with the first hen. I was trying to attribute it to a freak one time occurence. I think their pen is about 80 squarre feet. Is this enough room for them?
 

chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
4,905
655
296
Australia
Thank you for your response. He us nothing special just a run of the mill Yellow Golden. My anti hybrid stance relates only to the comnercial chicken world in particular the cornish rocks. I hate them! Back to the subject. The hen did have a deformed foot. I was not planning on making a business out of these but rather simply wanted to have a few beautiful birds for my own enjoyment. I was not really concerned with her foot because of this. Could her deformity have caused his attack?
After this I would certainly never put a hen he attacked back with him. I suppose it was rather immature to put him back with the first hen. I was trying to attribute it to a freak one time occurence. I think their pen is about 80 squarre feet. Is this enough room for them?
I wouldn't be so harsh on myself if I were you, this isn't 'immaturity' it's just possibly lack of experience. Most people who've kept animals for long enough learn, just like you did, the hard way, that once they attempt to kill or do serious damage, don't put their victim back in with them.
This knowledge is in direct contradiction to a lot of book information saying it'll be fine as long as the wounds are healed. So you did things right by the books but real life often doesn't adhere to the industry publications which often rely on studies on very controlled and homogenous subjects. It's not really your fault, plenty of people will tell you to put her back in once it's healed. But in my experience that's a 'no-no' in the majority of cases.
About their pen size, 80sq foot should be good enough, from what I've read of pheasant keeping, but really no amount of space is enough when you have one animal determined to kill another. I don't actually keep pheasants yet, I have intentions to in future so have been reading up on them, but some rules apply more often than not regardless of species.

I'm a little surprised no pheasant breeders have replied to you, but I doubt any of them would say your pen isn't big enough; most of them quote a pen size about the same as what you did.

Best wishes in future.
 

pheasantfrenzie

Songster
8 Years
Jun 17, 2011
438
4
101
Montrose,Co
I personally haven't written because I think you have been writing and saying all the right stuff. Yes we all do learn by our mistakes and it to bad that's also how ALL of us learn. We all have to start somewhere. I also think alot of people wont make post because you are asking questions about a yellow golden that is a mutation and alot of people don't like to comment on mutations. I think they are all beautiful and if you have knowledge share it. I personally wouldn't have bred a bird with a crocked toe because most times it is genetics and then I would ask what you would do with all the eggs (sell or Hatch them) if you planed on selling any of the chicks then you are introducing health problems to a already problem. I also would not breed that male because of how aggresive he is but then you look at other post about Reeves being aggresive so then you have to look at why. Yellows are not normally aggressive in my experience of owning them I find them very mellow and mine like to whistle any time they see me close to the pen so I would be careful.
 

destinduck

obsessed with "ducks"
11 Years
Mar 20, 2008
2,627
65
231
n.w.FLORIDA
you got a mean male. Only options I think are to put them in a much bigger pen and maybe add more girls and have alot, and I mean ALOT of cover. Sometimes even that doesnt work and you just have to get another one. Good luck.
 

Tony K T

Crowing
11 Years
Jul 28, 2008
4,382
373
296
New Hampshire
Was this male in the pen long before you added the hens?As you said you added hens later on.They should have been put into a new pen to all birds so their is no"this is my pen" ecspecially if you are adding hens to a males pen.It is his pen and he will defend it even if it's hens you put in there.In my opinion an aggressive male is a very fertilte breeder and I would not give up on him.Get him 4 or 5 hens if you can and put all of them into a pen that none have been in.I've raised trios in a 6x12 with no problems so 80 sq ft should do,but bigger is always better.Bad time of the year to find hens as everyone is all set up for the season.Good luck.
In N.H.,Tony.
 

houndit

There is no H or F in Orpington!
11 Years
Jul 13, 2008
2,231
103
244
Braymer Missouri
He lived with the peafowl for quite some time. When I first bought the hens I put them all in a new pen. They lived there all winter in what appeared to be perfect harmony. That is why I was so surprised when he turned aggressive.
 

chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
4,905
655
296
Australia
I personally haven't written because I think you have been writing and saying all the right stuff. Yes we all do learn by our mistakes and it to bad that's also how ALL of us learn. We all have to start somewhere.
^X2.

Everyone started from a position of knowing nothing about the subject. Nobody knows it all. We're all learners, no point being down on ourselves about it.


In my opinion an aggressive male is a very fertilte breeder and I would not give up on him.
Interesting. I don't have any first hand experience with pheasants but plenty with other species and in my experience there is a positive correlation between a male's high aggression levels and his low fertility. This has been proven by studies in cattle, and I've observed it among chickens, dogs, cats, etc, but wouldn't know about pheasants.

I'd guess that as a serious breeder you've been keeping good records so I'm not disputing your statement there, just find it different to my experience.

Best wishes to all.
 

aprophet

Songster
10 Years
Jan 12, 2010
3,798
32
239
chesapeake Va.
the more places you have for a hen to hide the better the health of your avery is going to be the more agressive roos are better breeders
 

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