Otherwise gentle rooster relentlessly harassing my favorite hen!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by RachelFromTheBlackLagoon, May 8, 2011.

  1. RachelFromTheBlackLagoon

    RachelFromTheBlackLagoon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My d'Uccle/Ameraucana rooster is just a year old. He's always been wonderful with my hens and I've never seen any aggression from him. He steers clear of people; has never flogged, postured or challenged me. He's beautiful, docile, and sweet with his girls. My five pigeons even live in the coop, and he's great with them. He's a good rooster. There's just one problem (well, aside from the excessive crowing!) he will NOT leave my Polish hen, Penny, alone!

    Penny is about two, she is one of my original girls and was head hen before Knucklehead the rooster grew up and took over. I have seen Knucklehead mate with the other hens, but whenever he tries with Penny, she squawks and runs off. Now he's taken to chasing her around relentlessly, and she's TERRIFIED. Today she jumped up to my shoulder from the ground to get away from him. She spends a lot of time hiding from him in one of the nest boxes with her face in the back corner. Now, I haven't seen any blood or wounds, or really any aggressive contact. He just chases her like a madman, he'll jump on her back, there's a lot of squawking as she freaks out and runs away and into the coop. He'll generally leave her alone once she's in the coop, but the very second she comes back out, it's game on.

    Why is he doing this all of the sudden? He doesn't do it with anybody else. I was thinking it's because she's the only hen who won't allow him to mate her, but I could be totally off base. How do I stop this? I love my rooster and don't want to rehome him, so I'd like to try some alternatives before going that route. However, I don't want Penny to live her entire life terrified and stressed, so if it comes down to rehoming him, I will. Should I separate Knucklehead from the flock for a while or let them work it out as long as there aren't any injuries?
     
  2. MareeZoCool

    MareeZoCool Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm seeing this same action with my rooster & our newest hen.
    I think it's a dominance issue. Mr. roo is trying to teach mz hen to submit WHEN he says without the game of chase.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I agree. Probably a dominance thing. She refuses to accept his dominance. I don't know anything you can do to change that. If he were younger, I'd say he needs to mature more. It is not unusual for a mature hen to refuse the dominance of a juvenile rooster. Often they will beat the tire out of an immature rooster until he matures. That can be pretty rough on him. But at a year old, he should be past the adolescence stage. Maybe not, so there might be some hope. I don't think much hope, but they are living animals and anything can happen.

    I'm in totally different circumstances than you. I raise mine for meat so when I see something like this happening, I take out the oddball hen, not the rooster as long as the rooster is decent to the other hens. It sounds like you value the hen more than the rooster. Your choice.

    Why do you have a rooster? If it is fertile eggs, you could maybe try keeping him separated from the flock, or at least her, until you want fertile eggs. Then, a week or so before you start collecting eggs, let them together. Other than that, I think you will wind up making a choice.

    Wish I could be more positive or helpful.
     
  4. RachelFromTheBlackLagoon

    RachelFromTheBlackLagoon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the replies.

    I don't have him for any particular purpose. I adopted a d'Uccle hen and he came with her as a chick. Ended up being a cockerel and I became attached. Here we are a year later!

    So you don't think it would help if I removed Knucklehead for a couple of weeks and then reintroduced him?
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    It costs you nothing to try. That might disrupt the flock dynamics so that when they sort themselves back out, the problem goes away. Sure hope so.
     
  6. scratch'n'peck

    scratch'n'peck Overrun With Chickens

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    I think your initial interpretation is accurate. I'm not sure how you can encourage her to accept his dominance and mating advances. Just removing him temporarily to give her a break would make it more difficult though. That might give her a chance to reassert her dominance. I would be more inclined to remove her for a day or so.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2011
  7. RachelFromTheBlackLagoon

    RachelFromTheBlackLagoon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    scratch'n'peck :

    I think your initial interpretation is accurate. I'm not sure how you can encourage her to accept his dominance and mating advances. Just removing him temporarily to give her a break would make it more difficult though. That might give her a chance to reassert her dominance. I would be more inclined to remove her for a day or so.

    Ahhhh, I hadn't thought about it that way. That certainly does make sense. I was thinking about it in the terms of one hen picking on another and removing the instigator to knock her down a few pegs. However, in this case I WANT Penny to submit, so it would make more sense to remove her. And that'll still give her a break from being pestered, which I think she needs. Great! I'll set up a cage for her in my mudroom and keep everything crossed that this works! If not, I'll try it the other way around.

    Thanks, all!​
     
  8. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    Quote:I would remove him from the flock until your Polish hen becomes comfortable once again. (A period of weeks not days.) If after reintroduction the behavior continues either permanent separation or rehoming of one of the chickens might be the appropriate solution. The stress he is imposing on your hen is making her more susceptible to health issues. Good luck resolving this.
     

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