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Rooster Pecking One Hen almost to Death

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jem mama, Feb 25, 2017.

  1. jem mama

    jem mama In the Brooder

    Feb 25, 2017
    Northern California
    Hi everyone,

    New on this forum. I have 5 chickens,1 which is a silkie rooster. He is still fairly young, and just started crowing two months ago. Originally we thought he was a hen until he started crowing and displaying some other rooster characteristics, but I had no problem with him until the last month or so. He started picking on one of our two original hens, a bantam seabright of unknown age (but at least two years old). He usually does this when I'm feeding them; he will chase and peck at her and try to prevent her from eating. It was not terrible though, until today for some reason. My son went to feed them, and he comes back saying that that particular hen was not eating from the little feeding trough I have for the chickens, but just pecking from the floor. Fifteen minutes later, I look from a window, and see our rooster pecking at the seabright non-stop and she doesn't seem to be moving, and I run out to stop the carnage. By the time I got down, she looked dead-- legs facing up, not moving. I pushed her onto her side, and see she hasn't died yet, but feathers all over the ground. I've brought her into the house and put her in a dog crate to see if she will heal. One eye seems to be injured, she has some blood on her head, and not sure if a foot is injured, but she seems very weak. She did finally eat some, but then keeled onto the floor of the crate, sleeping, I hope.

    Anyone have experience with a rooster mercilessly picking on only one hen? He is fine with all the others. We have one other bantam cochin also, which he doesn't have a problem with at all, but the seabright is our smallest chicken. Scared to re-introduce her back if/when she recovers. I don't understand why he would do this-- she is actually older than him too, and I thought they usually leave the older ones alone. Help!

  2. Paganrose

    Paganrose Songster

    May 23, 2010
    Albany,, Wisconsin
    I am sorry to hear about you hen, I hope she recovers! she will be in shock for a bit, but try to get some water and vitamins/electolites in her. Maybe someone else will jump in to give more advice about helping her.

    As for the Roo- I would get rid of/cull him. But I do take a hard stance against mean roosters in any form. You do not have a clear reason why he has been attacking her, and he may try it again with another in the future.
  3. jem mama

    jem mama In the Brooder

    Feb 25, 2017
    Northern California
    Sadly, she just passed on...
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Free Ranging Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Sorry about your hen. It could be that there was something wrong with her and he sensed that. Chickens will sometimes pick up on the weakness of another chicken and do their best to remove it from the flock. Survival of the fittest, you know.

    Could be he just has a mean streak and she was a likely target. I'd definitely be watching him closely in case he decides to go after another one. If he does, he'd be a goner if he were mine.
    1 person likes this.
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I agree, it might be that she was sick and dying, and he picked up on that. It might be that you are short of space. If he attacks another hen, cull him immediately.
  6. jem mama

    jem mama In the Brooder

    Feb 25, 2017
    Northern California
    Our sebright seemed just fine, and didn't look like it was sick at all. It was, however, at the bottom of the pecking order, and knew it. When I went down to feed kitchen scraps every day, she would hop onto the bench with me to stay away from the other chickens, but no one really bothered her except for the rooster. And when I go in to clean the coop (at least every other day) she would always be the first to go in with me as well. Even in the evenings, when going into the coop to sleep, she would often roost by herself away from the other chickens, so I always felt bad for her.

    We really have no issue with space either. They free-range all day.

    I'd like to add a couple of new started pullets soon, but am wary of how our rooster will treat 6-10 week old young ones, so am thinking of getting them slightly older, say 11-19 weeks. Just want peace in the flock! Will cull the rooster if he's aggressive to any others in future, but he has no problem so far, and would like to avoid it.
  7. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member Project Manager

    Jun 24, 2012
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC, and so sorry for your loss. Since you are in California, you might want to consider using the low cost necropsy service at UC Davis and have a necropsy performed on your deceased hen. Cost is $20, plus shipping, which would be around $10 if you use the UC Davis Fed Ex account number.


  8. authHeirlooms

    authHeirlooms In the Brooder

    Feb 20, 2017
    Loveland, CO
    Oh, I am so sorry that happened to you. We have had that happen, and we lost one of our favorite birds to a rooster who attacked her the same way. She was one of our highest ranking hens & wouldn't submit to him, don't know if that was related, but he started the same behavior with another after that. That was when I realized that flock management sometimes means taking out one bird to spare others. He went to freezer camp because it was clear that it was him or the girls. How old is your rooster, and was he raised with the rest of your flock? In both cases where we experienced this it was a cockerel attacking older hens. I hope this is a one off but do keep a close eye on him.

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