Pullet killed by other chickens?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by costello, Dec 15, 2013.

  1. costello

    costello Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to describe the situation fully and try to address potential questions.

    I lost a pullet this morning (or last night), the first I've lost since I put up my electric fence netting. And it appears she may have been killed by another chicken. Here's the set up.

    I have 9 chickens. One rooster, about 8 or 9 months old, has four hens, two are under a year old and two are elderly. I have a small coop under the deck for those chickens. The basement door lets out into that area which is paved with paving tiles. Then the fence allows them access to the front and side yards. I have 200 feet of fencing plus the sides of the house as the edges of their world. The point is they have quite a bit of space.

    Then I got four Easter Egger chicks in late August, so they're about 3 1/2 months old now. They spend most of their time in the basement, but occasionally I'll kick them out into the yard with the others. The EEs are two pullets and two roosters. One of the roosters, Martin, was being pretty aggressive with the hens, especially the gray one, which is the one I found dead this morning.

    I kicked Martin out of the basement about a month ago, because of his behavior. He's lived outside with the others since then. He seemed to calm down a lot. He keeps his distance from the others mostly, but recently I noticed he's been sleeping closer to them.

    The outdoor and indoor chickens have been around each other quite a bit. Sometimes the outdoor chickens come into the basement for a while. And the EEs go out into the yard sometimes. So they all know one another.

    So yesterday I put the indoor EEs outside, and I left them out all night. When I went down this morning, Quirk, the other EE rooster, was outside the fenced area, and the gray EE pullet was dead in the paved area. She had dried blood on her head, and her chest was torn open. The other chickens had obviously been eating her body.

    So, what happened? I think Martin viewed the EE hens as his. Did my throwing him out and leaving them with Quirk cause this problem? (I should add that Quirk is a particularly ineffective rooster. He's timid and had a crooked leg. Left to himself, there's no way he could have dominated Martin and got the hens.)

    Could one of the other hens have done this? I have a particularly bad-tempered RIR who's at the bottom of the pecking order outside, so she delights in bullying the EEs when she gets the chance.

    Two other facts: First, I'm watching my sister's young cat for a few weeks. He's fascinated by the chickens. I thought he might have been the killer, but really he's not much bigger than the dead pullet. And he's been locked in the basement with them for long periods of time without injuring them.

    Second, there's another rooster hanging around here, which may be stressing my chickens. Last weekend I came home to find my rooster standing on top of another rooster which had somehow got into the fenced area of my yard. The strange rooster was quite bloody and was attempting to get back out of the yard through one of the holes in the fence - impossible. I assumed it was my neighbor's rooster, so I just tossed it out of the yard, thinking it would go home. Instead it's hung around my house. I'm wondering if someone dumped it here. At any rate, its presence doesn't seem to be welcomed by my chickens.

    Any thoughts? I really don't want to lose the other EE pullet, but she's going to have to be integrated into the flock sometime.
     
  2. costello

    costello Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just went outside. I see four roosters loose in the neighbor's front yard - the one my rooster beat up last weekend and three more. One was trying to get into my yard. Why would you need four roosters and no hens?

    Anyway my chickens seem stressed, and I wonder if that contributed to the pullet's death.
     
  3. Gardner

    Gardner New Egg

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    Dec 15, 2013
    Do the outside chickens have access to roosting areas at night?

    Sounds potentially like a weasel attack, they normally go for the breast and neck lapping the blood and leaving the carcass.

    The hens will be unsettled as their May be a new rooster they would rather be with. They are not always happy with the rooster you provide.

    If you find one of the rouge roosters in your pen how about clipping one wing before you push it out of your yard? That way he can't fly back in?
     
  4. costello

    costello Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Most of the outside chickens prefer to sleep on top of the coop. One sleeps inside. The EEs, though, were probably sleeping on the ground. I don't know if we have weasels around here, though. How would a weasel get in and out? The electric fence is a pretty effective deterrent.

    I think they like Roo actually. He's a good guy and keeps the peace.

    I didn't think to clip the wing of the one I caught. That's a good idea. If I find one inside the fence again, I'll do that.
     
  5. costello

    costello Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think you may be right. Apparently there are weasels in Kansas, although they're seldom seen. They prefer to live near water, and I live at a lake. I'll be sure that all of my chickens are roosting off the ground if they're outside. I've been leaving the coop door open at night too, trusting that the fence is keeping out all predators. Maybe I'll close it each evening from here on out.
     

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