old hen getting attacked by Rooster

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mamahen82, Oct 26, 2010.

  1. mamahen82

    mamahen82 Out Of The Brooder

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    Quick background - we rescued a fullgrown RIR hen who had mysteriously arrived and spent several weeks in our apple orchard this spring. Because of her, we resurrected our old chicken coop in our (semi residential, not farm) backyard. To keep her company, I bought three straight-run young chickens from a local breeder, two which ended up being roosters, so they ended up in the freezer.

    To replace them, we bought a box of 'barnyard mix' young chickens from the auction, ended up being 5 hens and 2 roosters. The original RIR was clearly the top-hen and after the initial mild pecking they've all gotten along just fine, until today.

    The dominant Rooster has started crowing in the past month but I haven't seen him really trying to mount the hens much, and he and the other rooster ( cockerol? I've never heard it crow) get along fine. Anyways, the dominant rooster today has started really attacking the older, original hen.

    This morning when I went to outside she was lying on her side against the run fence, looking pretty much dead. Even after I distracted the other birds on the other side, she did not get up - only after I brought her some scratch. Since then the rooster has attacked her every time she is in in the run.

    She has lost about a cm of feathers on her head, and has had a small amt of blood that I have put cornstarch on. She spent part of the day hiding in the coop, and then later I found her in the neighbor's yard - the chickens previously had not tested that side of the fence but she is so freaked out by this rooster that she managed to get through the one weakspot, high-up on their run. Right now she is free-ranging around the yard and the rest are in the run. Whenever I try to reintroduce her to the run, the rooster aggressively chases her, corners her, and pecks at her head. She is freaked out and if i even carry her near the run she gets stressed and tries to fly out of my arms. I am worried that she is going to get out on the (busy) road if I let her free-range too much seeing as our yard is not entirely secure.

    These birds are more like pets to us, especially my daughter, and this hen is by far the calmest, cuddliest of the birds so I would hate for her to get pecked to death. We are still so new to chickens and thus far it has all been a fairly easy, pleasant experience.

    I am curious if this is just a re-establishment of the pecking order as the rooster matures (he is not bothering any of the other hens), and if it will settle down in a day or two, or if separation is warranted, removal of the rooster, etc. We were hoping to keep the rooster and try for chicks in the spring, he is a really beautiful bird.

    I am going to pick up some of that blue stuff to put on the hen's sores, but beyond that I don't really know what to do. thanks in advance,
     
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    [​IMG] It's a dominance thing that has goten out of control. I would get rid of the rooster if you really like the hen. It doesn't sound as if he will be willing to back off. Understand that if you get rid of him, the other cockerel may step up and exhibit similar behavior. 2 roosters to 6 hens is one rooster too many.
     
  3. mamahen82

    mamahen82 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thankyou for the advice- I figured that two roosters is too many for 6 hens but seeing as they still were not mature (and therefore not 'hassling' the hens) I had been putting off dealing with it seeing as it is emotional for my daughter (and let's face it, me too).

    On the other hand, the hen's egg production is really slowing down. I talked with my neighbor across the street (were we eventually determined this hen had flown the coop from!) and she said hers are doing the same.

    So if we did decide to get rid of the hen, what are the chances that the rooster would exhibit similar behaviour to all the other hens that he is currently very good with?

    But if we decided to keep the hen, just as a pet, how long can chickens live if left to their own?
     
  4. Sgsf

    Sgsf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't see why you all do this. If it was me, I'd show that rooster who is boss. Whenever my rooster attacks my silkie hens, which are pretty special to me, I will chase the rooster down, grab him, and either give him a good "pat" on the side or back, or I will hang him by his feet OR peck him on the head with my finger. Then I'd hold his head to the hen he attacked, and let them get a few free shots.

    I don't know if this sounds cruel, but it works. The rooster no longer attacks the hens for no reason. He will try to scare them, but if he attacks them they will fight back.
     
  5. mamahen82

    mamahen82 Out Of The Brooder

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    yikes - I don't know if I'm brave enough to try this!

    Is having roosters even worth it? We're not looking to do heritage breeding or anything and would be just as happy to order a box of chicks in the spring from a breeder. I had never intended on having roosters but just didn't realize what I was getting into - as in if I'm not ordering sexed chicks or buying older hens, then dealing with roosters is just part of the 'fun' of having chickens.

    Are there any advantages to having roosters?
     
  6. Sgsf

    Sgsf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The ONLY reason to have a rooster is for fertile eggs and hen protection (but you really don't see Roosters protecting hens too much [​IMG]).
     
  7. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    Roos do help protect the flock, sometimes even giving up their life to a predator to protect the hens. Some people feel hens are happier with a roo, other say no, they are calmer without one.

    Chickens can live up to 20 years but ordinarily it's more like 8 or 10.

    You can usually stop a bully by isolating her for a few days or a week. When you put them back, they are at the lowest point in the pecking order. But this is different, because 2 roos to only 6 hens is definitely one too many. Even one roo to 6 hens may turn out to be rough on the hens.

    If you dispose of the bully (one way or another) you may find they do fine with the other one. It just depends on his personality. He is less likely to be a complete jerk if he is the only roo.

    I'm in the same situation, I have 4 roos and 13 hens. It's been fine til a week or so ago because one roo is older and the others are just coming of age. Now my egg production has dropped severely, more than it did last winter, and I know there is more going on here than short days; the hens are feeling stressed. It's just a matter of finding the time to put them in the freezer.

    BTW, if you keep only hens, one will sometimes take on the role of the roo, being top dog, often acting as if he was mounting the hens. Sometimes this hen also stops laying eggs and even (sort of) crows. Well, she does an imitation crow. I figure, might as well have fertile eggs for the broodies (and meat) if they're going to be that way about it... I used to have a hen that mounted the other hens; never knew whether she laid or not.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 26, 2010
  8. mamahen82

    mamahen82 Out Of The Brooder

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    thanks for the replies.

    I think we will be getting rid of the roos seeing as I don't want more than 6 hens right now anyways.
     

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