Sudden aggressive hens

saltidog

Chirping
5 Years
Apr 10, 2014
30
4
74
Northeastern PA
Good day all. On Friday morning when I opened the doors to our hen house, I found my 2 older, rescued hens to be fighting with each other, like roosters. I do not know what breed of chickens they are as they were rescued from a parking lot where they probably fell from a truck. They have been together nearly 3 years with no issues. Presently they are not laying. One of the hens is (or was?) a dominant female, who would cock a doodle do before we got our rooster. This is the one who got pecked in the face and comb pretty bad. However both hens were aggressive and I cannot say who started this. I have kept them separated since then but they cluck and carry on when they know the other one is in the area. On Sunday, I put one in a fenced area and had the other free ranging. They beat each other up on the heads again, only this time through the chicken wire. Today, they are both locked up in rabbit hutches as I fear the worst. I have also noticed that 2 of my banties have also been fighting but not to the extent of them drawing blood. I am finding this behavior with both pairs to be very odd and out of the ordinary. They only change I have made was to make a homemade scratch with cracked corn, oatmeal, sunflower seeds and flaxseeds. I did not give them shelled sunflower and I have been reading that the sunflowers should be shelled. I found this recipe on another site for healthy scratch grains for the winter. I am located in PA and the weather has been out of the ordinary balmy weather. I am wondering if I provided them with too much protein and the warm weather and protein created the energy which turned into an aggression. I am afraid of putting one with the flock for fear that the other chickens will smell and see the blood and scabs and they will kill her. I am not certain this will happen but it is a fear. I need help on how to fix this problem. Thanks for your expert advice ahead of time.
 

Miss Lydia

~Gift of God ~ Eternal Life ~John 3:16
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Oct 3, 2009
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Good day all. On Friday morning when I opened the doors to our hen house, I found my 2 older, rescued hens to be fighting with each other, like roosters. I do not know what breed of chickens they are as they were rescued from a parking lot where they probably fell from a truck. They have been together nearly 3 years with no issues. Presently they are not laying. One of the hens is (or was?) a dominant female, who would cock a doodle do before we got our rooster. This is the one who got pecked in the face and comb pretty bad. However both hens were aggressive and I cannot say who started this. I have kept them separated since then but they cluck and carry on when they know the other one is in the area. On Sunday, I put one in a fenced area and had the other free ranging. They beat each other up on the heads again, only this time through the chicken wire. Today, they are both locked up in rabbit hutches as I fear the worst. I have also noticed that 2 of my banties have also been fighting but not to the extent of them drawing blood. I am finding this behavior with both pairs to be very odd and out of the ordinary. They only change I have made was to make a homemade scratch with cracked corn, oatmeal, sunflower seeds and flaxseeds. I did not give them shelled sunflower and I have been reading that the sunflowers should be shelled. I found this recipe on another site for healthy scratch grains for the winter. I am located in PA and the weather has been out of the ordinary balmy weather. I am wondering if I provided them with too much protein and the warm weather and protein created the energy which turned into an aggression. I am afraid of putting one with the flock for fear that the other chickens will smell and see the blood and scabs and they will kill her. I am not certain this will happen but it is a fear. I need help on how to fix this problem. Thanks for your expert advice ahead of time.
@saltidog I am not sure what is going on with your chickens but your right not to put any chicken in with other chickens if they have bloody areas or open wounds the others will go after her. Now go to managing your flock thread and make a new thread I'm sure you'll get alot of help.

https://www.backyardchickens.com/f/2/managing-your-flock
 
Last edited:

triplepurpose

Crowing
12 Years
Oct 13, 2008
1,018
265
289
Well, Id say its fundamentally not the feed or the weather, to narrow it down. And its not really instructive to consider "who started it"--this isnt a hatfield and mccoy clan feud and chickens dont hold grudges--its just a couple of birds trying to establish the pecking order, albeit in the sonetimes "brutal" way they do so! but some birds are for whatever reason just maladjusted, or becone that way, like some people.

Also not sure that separating them in rabbit hutches will be productive--in my experience, it would likely just make it harder to reintroduce them later (as well as being a sucky experience for an animal accustomed to more space). separating them by a transparent barrier where they can still see and interact, but not touch each other, eould be better. but honestly, if the fighting is as severe as it sounds and continues for a long time without one eventually submitting and yielding to the other, i would cull one of them and make some good soup out of the situation (which one you remove is up to you, whichever you think would make the coop more peaceful is the right choice).

A bit of fighting now and then is a normal, healthy part of flock life, but persistent bloody battles with no clear resolution in sight (especially among hens that arent laying anyway) serve no useful function in our little coop. :)

hope that helps...
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 12, 2009
8,955
11,357
636
western South Dakota
Boy was I confused, I was reading on "manage your flock" and I thought it was a perfectly fine place to post, haha!

But as to the question, I think it has to do with the age of your chickens. In my experience, with not to top grade chickens (the kind I mostly have) is that they get very crabby with age, and perhaps molting. And I think their mental understanding diminishes and they don't recognize their flock mates. Or one bird recognizes an ailment in the other, that is at this point unperceived by you. I think the end is close for either or both birds I, too, recommend culling. I do not like tension in the flock. I think that the bantys may have picked up on the tension of the original fighters.

I don't think it is the feed or the weather, I think it is the age of the chickens.

Mrs K
 

casportpony

Spreadsheet Queen
BYC Staff
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Jun 24, 2012
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@Mrs. K , the thread was started in the duck forum and was moved to this one. It's in the correct forum now. :D

-Kathy
 

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