Removal of Aggressive Hens?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by daddyman, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. daddyman

    daddyman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 28, 2012
    Greetings,

    Input solicited, so please offer some guidance...

    We have a small mixed flock of six, and all had gotten along well until two days ago. When letting them out for some yard ranging, our most docile bird came out with her head covered in blood.

    She had been pecked about the comb and had a number of feathers on her head pulled.

    I brought her inside, cleaned her up, and applied Bluekote. She slept inside and I tried a reintroduction this morning.

    Feeders filled, scratch thrown out, other birds released and then she went back out while the others were milling about and scratching. Two of the birds bee-lined for her, chased her, pulled feathers and pecked her. They were broken up, but it was pretty bad. The others seemed interested, but indifferent.

    So, long story short... What are your thoughts on removing the two aggressors? They seem to be mid-level pecking order birds, so I am not sure how that would effect flock dynamics.

    Thanks!
     
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Tell us more about their housing and your weather. Have they been confined recently? How much square feet do you have for your birds? what are you feeding them? are there hiding places for your omega hen?
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Are these pullets that are just now maturing? Are they around five or six months old? Or are they several years old? Are they all the same age?

    If they've all gotten along until now, my guess is they are coming into point of lay and they are becoming aware of their ranks and two are competing with each other for rank.

    Most of the time, you aren't even aware that a rank has been challenged, and swapped, all without blood or fuss. But sometimes, this challenge isn't resolved quickly, and can go on for a few days. Usually, the comb gets bitten and since combs bleed freely, you'll see a bloody head.

    You see a hen with a bloody head, remove her, perform first aid, and return her to the flock the next day. In just that time, the flock noticed her absence, and when you returned her, they attacked her as an outsider. This is probably all the aggression you're going to see at this point. She was reduced in rank by your keeping her out over night, and she probably accepts it.

    Next time you see a bloody comb, or even witness two hens going at each other, claw and talon, even biting each others combs, try not to get upset. This is normal pecking order sorting out. It almost always resolves itself, and quickly. If you ever need to do first aid again, try to return the hen immediately unless the injuries are severe or are still bleeding. By trying to interfere in pecking order disputes, we often only make things worse, not better.
     

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