Not sure, but I think my rooster killed one of my older hens!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by LestersFlat, Mar 17, 2015.

  1. LestersFlat

    LestersFlat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have one Buff Orpington roo who is almost a year old, and 17 hens. I added him to the older flock with 9 other young hens sometime over the summer. Everyone seemed to get along just fine. There were previously 3 roos that we had to sell because they were too aggressive with each other and the hens, so the girls were used to having obnoxious men in the house. [​IMG] And the new Buff roo has always been a kinder gentler sort...or so we thought.

    I didn't actually see this happen, and my husband only barely saw it, but the roo was mating with the one hen that I always called Big Mama. She was from our first batch of hens, and always at the top of the pecking order among the girls. Husband ignored them until it seemed to go on longer and more roughly than he would expect. The hen was off to the side in the coop and flapping her wings but could not get up. Rooster went over, pecking at her, looking like he was trying to revive her (according to husband) but then started pecking at her even more viciously. When husband went over to separate them, hen was clearly dead.

    Husband thinks she had a heart attack caused by old age, or rooster broke her neck by accident. She had no obvious wounds other than some missing feathers around her back end. I say she was probably the strongest of the old girls, and I don't think 4 years is very old for a chicken, but I also don't think this roo has a mean streak in him.

    What do you all think?

    Is it common for chickens who have been living peacefully for months to try to change the pecking order and attack each other? They are normally free ranging, but have been literally cooped up because of the 3 feet of snow on the ground for the last 2 or 3 months.
    They have a large coop (an old milking shed), but have been trapped in there most of the winter because of the snow. Doors are open during the day, but they can't make it outside very far... Only in the past week and a half has the snow started to melt and they have been venturing outside again. Even more reason that I am surprised this would happen now, now that they have more freedom.
     
  2. JJSS89

    JJSS89 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    4 years old is within the timeframe of an average lifespan.

    I seriously doubt he killed her.
     
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I agree, 4 years is an old chicken. Could have been a freak accident, but I doubt it.

    Mrs K
     
  4. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    Your rooster wasnt trying to administer CPR, that's for sure. Your rooster sensed that your hen was no longer productive to reproduce offspring and he killed her. Survival of the fittest.
     
  5. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    If you have genetically weak, sick birds, or neglected birds. I have an old flock of hens aged 9 and 10 years old. They are active and still lay eggs.
     
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  6. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    If you keep 3 roosters together, they will be more aggressive and more competitive. One rooster per group of hens is the way.

    The hen could have been weakened by sickness and it just happened to be that time. Years ago I had a particularly brutal Araucana rooster who pecked hens while mating and damaged one's skull. I shot him that day. That was the only time I ever had to do that.
     
  7. JJSS89

    JJSS89 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:90% + of hens out there are from awful stock designed to lay like crazy for a couple years and regardless of how they are treated. I have a 16 year old rooster so I am aware that chickens can live for a long time.
     
  8. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    It's impossible to say what killed your hen unless you have a necropsy performed on the corpse. All we can do is guess as in a murder mystery. The evidence points to a sudden death such as heart failure, which is not all that uncommon. Your husband probably saw the death throes, and the rooster did, too, and went over and began pecking at the corpse.

    I seriously doubt your rooster killed the hen.
     
  9. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I do not doubt you when you say you have very old birds. However, in my own experience, the birds I have, have been quite old when they were four years old. They are stiffer, a little less spry, a little more ragged, and they just look old.

    The two of you that responded with long lived chickens, I wonder if it is your winters? I know my birds are reasonably cared for, and while I do have hatchery birds, it seems quite a bit of difference. No one near where I live has chickens anywhere close to the ages that you are saying.

    Mrs K
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2015
  10. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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