Rooster killed top hen in pecking order tonight!?!?!

jerischicks

In the Brooder
Apr 8, 2021
5
34
36
Wow... so I was grilling outside tonight and threw some fat and meat to our Chickens in the open run as I normally do as a treat for them.

(We have 3 older hens (Australorps) 3 pullet easter eggers, 3 golden laced Wyandottes and a silver laced Wyandotte rooster. We got the Australorps and Rooster together last year as a friend of ours moved from her farm so we took them from her. We have no idea how old the hens and rooster are, maybe 2-4 years old.) Anyway, they go crazy for the fat and meat and sometimes even squabble over it a bit. I heard some normal chicken noises, and then heard a lot of wing flapping so I went over to see what was going on and I saw our Rooster, to what I thought was "mating" with the highest hen in the pecking order, had her by the neck, doing his thing, and then I saw her wings flap go limp, her head fall to the ground and she was dead!!! I really don't know for sure what happened, but it sure looked like to me that he had broken her neck as all of the chickens were standing all around them looking. As soon as he got off of her, he went to one of the Wyandotte pullets and mated with her and then got off her and just stood there. It was a little surreal and took awhile to sink in, but has anyone ever seen or heard about this? This was the highest in the pecking order so all I can think off was that she was picking on one of the rooster's new favorites and he said enough is enough? He is really a very good Ro, never really had any trouble with him, never over protective, has always been gentle wit the girls, never problems with him pecking the neck or any raw spots, etc. and the previous owner says he is the best rooster she ever had.

Is this is something to worry about? Do I need to cull him or was this just a freak thing to protect others in the flock? Is it possible one of the hens killed her and then the rooster just added his dominance to the fight?

Any opinions, help or advice would be welcome. Thanks!
I'm so sorry this happened to you. It's so traumatic, isn't it? We had that happen as well. Our very good rooster, a cochin, mated with one of the hens one day while I was out in the run. Nothing was different, but the squawking was more insistent. Afterward my hen just laid there panting, and within an hour, she passed. He didn't intentionally kill her. Something else happened. Heart attack, broken back maybe, I just couldn't figure it out or how to help her when it happened. There wasn't enough time to find a vet. All I can say is that nothing was malicious or different, it was just a bad accident. Your rooster sounds like he's a good guy. I wouldn't give up on him.
 

FoxySonia

Songster
Aug 17, 2020
187
214
163
Queens, NY
Often there will be wing flapping when a chicken dies, this is a natural reaction of the nervous system and does not indicate the rooster had anything to do with it.

A hen of unknown, but rather advanced age fed with chunks of fat and meat can easily choke. Or have a heart attack, or die of fatty liver disease etc. There are a lot of possibilities.

The rooster mating (trying to mate) her seems to be just a coincidence to me.
Sorry the hen died. I agree with LaFleche. I don't think the rooster killed the hen. She probably died of choking, which could cause the flapping wings, or heart attack. She was probably close to the ground when the rooster saw it as a good opportunity to jump on her to mate. I had a hen died on her side, and as I went to the run to pick up her body, saw my rooster get on top of her and try to mate with her, unsuccessfully of course. I stood and watch for a while, curious to watch his behavior. He pecked her, then sat next to her for a while, then again tried to get on top of her to mate, while I thought to myself "what a dummy", then he stood to look at her before sitting down again next to her as if to wait for her to wake up. The 2 other hens were standing nearby but not as close, they later started dustbathing. After I distracted them getting him out of the run with treats, I got the hen's body out of the run to bury her in the yard. The rooster seemed more subdued for the rest of the day, maybe he missed her.

So a rooster will try to mount and mate with a dying or dead hen. Ducks too. Maybe it's because they don't realize that the hen is dying or dead.

I've seen a few chickens died, and they do flap their wings just before they die.
 

Araucana1

In the Brooder
Apr 24, 2021
10
8
15
The hen could simply have been old, & the stress of the rooster weight on her cold have caused her heart to give out. I’ve had that happen a few times over the years. Sometimes the rooster just stands on the hen without getting off right away & the hen is in deep stress below him.
 

K0k0shka

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Jul 24, 2019
3,369
9,017
487
Boston Area, MA
My Coop
My Coop
Fatty liver is a very common problem and the way it kills the bird is when the liver gets too large, it gets very fragile, so a physical stress of some sort pushes it over the edge - the liver bursts, and the bird dies. It can be any kind of physical stress on the liver - jumping down from a high place etc. Meat and fat are very calorically dense and could've given the hen fatty liver. Then the weight of the rooster might have burst it, and she might have flapped her wings after dying because that's the nervous system's response to death. The death was quick, what you saw was the dead chicken flapping before the rooster was even done with her.
 

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