one hen suddenly attacking- help please

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by jrvv, Jun 3, 2011.

  1. jrvv

    jrvv Out Of The Brooder

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    May 31, 2010
    Hi,

    I have 4 RIR sex-links that are 18 months old. They have been VERY happy together for the past year, but suddenly (last 3 days) one hen is mercilessly attacking the omega female almost at random (I say that as I don't see a real pattern for why the attacks are happening...food, water, space, etc.)

    The attack: the attacker will chase the victim down and almost straddle her, pluck out feathers on her neck and squabble at her quite violently. At one point, the victim was forced to lay on the ground with her head tucked under the wooden frame of their tractor in fear. I am feeling sick about this because these girlies are my pets and I treat them very well.

    Are they setting up a new pecking order? Not much has changed in terms of food/water availability, weather, treats, etc.

    They have lots of space and all lay fairly regularly - no one is broody; they have recently been de-wormed. The victim is missing some feathers on her tail because they got burned my a heat lamp in winter by accident...is this suddenly a "weakness" that the attacker doesn't like?

    The other 2 girls seem fairly neutral about the whole thing, but occaisionally get involved. The attacker and victim used to be best friends.
    Should I separate or isolate any of them?

    Any help/suggestions are appreciated.
     
  2. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

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    It sounds like this hen is going above and beyond pecking order squabble. I'd separate her from the rest somehow for a week or two. That will put her back in the low position in the flock. Then see what happens. If she's still that vicious, I'm afraid keeping her apart forever or rehoming her might be in order.
     
  3. jrvv

    jrvv Out Of The Brooder

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    May 31, 2010
    Thanks Galanie. I will definitely consider that. I did have them separated for a while yesterday and the day before. Oddly enough, there have been no squabbles today - I hope it stays that way, but if it continues to escalate, then I will have to separate them [​IMG]
     
  4. Carrie Lynn

    Carrie Lynn Chillin' With My Peeps

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  5. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    My Coop
    I had two hens that were bullies. I caught one hen really wailing away on one of the pullets. She was so intent on the pullet that she didn't know I was there. I had a hose in my hand and gave her a good squirt with the hose. She wasn't expecting it as she was really into beating up the pullet. Boy did she ever jump off when she got hit with the water. She ran into the coop and didn't come back out for a long time. I caught her a few more times and always had the hose handy and squirted her when she was being aggressive. She eventually quit bullying. Originally I did take them out of the flock for about a week. When I did put them back with the flock one was ok but the other was still being a real bully. That is when I used the hose and caught her off guard.
     
  6. jrvv

    jrvv Out Of The Brooder

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    May 31, 2010
    Thank you Carrie and Cmom...I will have to do something akin to the "hose" trick! The attacks haven't stopped so I've resorted to separating the attacker and victim from one another probably 90% of the day. I make sure each gets their time in with the other girls since I know they're social creatures. This is really disheartening - I'm so attached to my little girlies, so it is hard to watch this behaviour.

    I should also mention that never before have the girls been separated for long periods, nor have they ever been sick. When they free-range they still fight a little, but the victim can just run away - problem is still there. They seem to be OK being separated and within view of each other for now. I'm hoping that this will fade after a week or two of "jail time" as I don't want to lose a girl.

    Thanks again for all the help.
     
  7. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

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    Letting the bully hang out with the flock defeats part of the purpose of separating her: That of putting her back at the bottom of the pecking order because she's been separated long enough to lose her "place." But I understand why you're doing it and wish you luck [​IMG]
     
  8. jrvv

    jrvv Out Of The Brooder

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    May 31, 2010
    hmmm....you're right. Right now she's on her own...maybe I'll try to isolate her all the time and see if that makes things better.

    Thanks Galanie.
     

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