Rooster hates the new hens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Rainekitty, Feb 3, 2015.

  1. Rainekitty

    Rainekitty Out Of The Brooder

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    For the past year, I’ve had a small flock of four who grew up together- two Speckled Sussex hens, a bantam mix hen and a Sebright mix bantam rooster. They’re all about 2 years old. One of the Sussex, the alpha hen, was killed by a hawk last month. I’ve been wanting more hens but was planning on waiting until Spring. However, we were approached by a friend who needed to get rid of his hens ASAP for personal reasons. We decided to take a few on the spur of the moment. We chose three very friendly, hand-raised hens. I’ve read a lot on here about the proper way to introduce chickens, but had neither the time nor the resources to manage a proper introduction. Big mistake on my part.

    I introduced the two groups in the evening and everything seemed to go okay after a little show by the rooster. One of the new hens challenged the rooster but soon backed down after a few pecks and chasing. They slept on opposite sides of the coop. The next day, the old group and the new group were on opposite sides of the run every time I checked them. The new hens would scoot away from the rooster if he got too close, and he harassed them a bit but nothing overly aggressive that I saw. The two original hens wanted nothing to do with the new hens but they did not peck at or chase them. They’re pretty wimpy.

    That night, I noticed a bit of blood on the comb of the chicken who challenged the rooster. She seemed okay otherwise and the rooster was already asleep on the roost so I did not separate them. Everyone seemed decent to each other this morning. I went into work, but checked in on the chickens occasionally via a web cam pointed at their coop & run. Again, the old group and the new group were on opposite sides of the run but everyone was scratching and pecking the ground and I didn’t see any aggression. I did notice the rooster walking into the coop while the hen who challenged him was inside, and she came flying out about 10 seconds later. When I got home I noticed that she had more spots of blood around her face and comb and also on her neck. I moved her and the other two new girls out of the coop, and they are spending the night in my basement.

    The new girls grew up without ever meeting a rooster, and my rooster seems to be taking on the role of alpha hen.

    My husband wants the rooster to go, but I’d like to try to make it work, by obtaining a second coop/run and giving them lots and lots of time to live separated from but within sight of the rooster.

    Is it too late- did I already cause irreparable damage? Will my rooster ever accept the new girls?
     
  2. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The rooster is just doing what he's supposed to be doing. There are invaders and he's doing the only thing that he knows how to do. Putting them in the basement was the last thing that needed to happen. Now they have to go through the whole schpeel all over again. If you have a large dog crate, I would just put the rooster in there with water and some food for a few days. Let the girls work things out. Probably the one new hen will rise to the top. Let Mr Rooster out Saturday and just let them work things out. He's not beating the crap out of her and a little bit of blood just goes with the territory.
     
  3. Rainekitty

    Rainekitty Out Of The Brooder

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    Darn. I definitely didn't intend to make things worse! I was not planning on putting the new girls back into the same run until I figured out what to do and gave the 'challenger' time to heal. I don't want to come home to a dead chicken! I did think about separating the rooster but wasn't sure that would be helpful in the long run (plus he is not that friendly and will be difficult to catch). I'll try it. Thanks!!
     
  4. Rainekitty

    Rainekitty Out Of The Brooder

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    May 11, 2014
    One more question- if I get the rooster into the crate, should I leave the crate in the run or move him to a completely separate area away from the hens?
     
  5. justplainbatty

    justplainbatty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You can do it either way. If he's hard to catch it is best to get him off the roost at night, chasing a chicken is never a good thing.
     
  6. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would just leave the crate in with the hens. He needs to be protected from the elements but he'd probably prefer to be outside where the action is. I would think if things were going to escalate they would of by now. It doesn't sound like the rooster is out of line or overly aggressive. The new hen had to assume the role of the rooster in the old flock so basically it's just 2 rooster sparing for dominance. She'll figure it out. It's a lot less work to be a hen than to be the "rooster". I would also make sure they have tons of stuff to scratch in when you do add the rooster. A big bag of leaves, a wheelbarrow of dirt, compost... They can't fight if they're looking for food.
     
  7. Rainekitty

    Rainekitty Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for all the advice. I feel a lot better about the situation now. I do remember reading that in the chicken world, drawing blood means the feud is pretty serious. It is relieving to hear that it actually can be a normal part of the process during a stressful introduction like this (not that I would ever put any chicken in this kind of situation again- but I was feeling pretty hopeless once I saw the blood).
     
  8. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    There's drawing blood, and there's drawing blood. A few spots here and there will happen. If he's continuously pecking so the blood is running off her comb, that's a different matter. If you crate him, leave the crate in the run so they can see each other. They may get a little more used to each other before you let him out. Just know that once out, he will still need to establish his dominance and there will likely be more pecking and chasing. It happens. Chickens don't like change or intruders, and new flock members represent both. What you were experiencing was normal chicken behavior.
     
  9. Farmer Rhonda

    Farmer Rhonda Out Of The Brooder

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    Whew I'm sorry to hear about your troubles, mine are the opposite , my girls won't accept the new rooster at all and im crating him at night so all is quiet. We haven't had any blood incidents but i can see why that would be upsetting. I would put them together sat and sun and see how it goes. Good luck
     
  10. Rainekitty

    Rainekitty Out Of The Brooder

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    Sooo…I put the new girls back in the run before dawn and will try to catch the rooster this evening, with my husband's help. I'm working from home and I checked in on them several times and haven't seen any fighting. Until I went out just now. When I got to the door I saw one of the new girls (not the challenger) on the ground in a heap. I thought she was dead. She was not dead, but she is lethargic and doesn't want to stand on her own (although she can). She was laying on her side and that side was a bit matted with debris and straw. I checked her over and I don't see any injuries. BUT she does have a big bald spot at the base of her comb. I think the rooster was mating her, based off of the bald spot. Maybe he was overly aggressive? Or maybe she's devastated at the loss of her purity?
     

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