sudden hen aggression

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by saltidog, Dec 14, 2015.

  1. saltidog

    saltidog Out Of The Brooder

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    I hope that I am posting under the correct category! I am uncertain if this forum is specific to egg laying behavior or to 1. behaviors of chickens and a separate category of 2. egg laying. I can repost elsewhere if this is the incorrect place. So here it goes -
    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. They are free range chickens. 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.
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Chickens occasionally will fight when one decides to challenge the existing pecking order. In other words, one of your rescued hens may have been the dominant one, and when the other one challenged her, a fight ensued. This is normal.

    It's usually resolved very quickly, and most people are never aware it even took place. In some cases, the battle will be protracted if neither hen is willing to back down and accept second place. They will fight until they get rank decided.

    If injuries occur, you need to treat the wounds if they're serious, and any fresh wound will be a source of unwanted attention unless you disguise it with a product such as Blu-kote.

    I know how disturbing it is to see your hens fight, but it's better to let them indulge in these skirmishes until they settle things. Not allowing them to do so only prolongs the conflict.
     
  3. saltidog

    saltidog Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks on the bluekote tip. I have some and will use it. I quarantined them as I worry they will kill each other while we are at work. Plus I worry that the others will attack an injured one. Does this ever happen?
     
  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Yes, chickens will attack an injured one. It's kind of a rule of the jungle, so to speak.

    What would be preferable to isolation would be to house the two enemies side by side, within sight of each other but not within striking range. Since they used to be friends, perhaps they will be able to settle their differences without physically endangering each other.

    Completely removing the injured one from the flock will cause problems for her upon re-entry.

    I just thought of something you might try if these two keep up their feud.

    A friend who runs a rooster rescue in Olympia WA once had two roosters who were determined to kill each other. He installed them both in the same dog crate, large enough where they weren't cramped, but small enough where they had no room to engage in the motions required to fight. When he let them out several days later, they were BFFs forever.

    I don't know for sure it would work, but you have nothing to lose by trying. Just make sure it's not a large enough cage that they have room to go at each other.
     
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  5. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    I often have roosters go at it in the spring, they can get pretty bloodied, I don't usually intervene, I allow them to finish what they need to, in the past I would stop them, but they always go back at it later on. I have had a few hens spar and fight but not that much, personally I might let them resolve it than intervene if necessary, otherwise you might always have to keep them separately.

    I have had bloodied chickens in the flock, I have used bluekote and I have just left them as well, it depends on the flock dynamics and the housing situation and why the chicken is bloody, if an injured bird has a place to get away they usually will spend time off on their own until they heal.
     
  6. Chicken Egg 17

    Chicken Egg 17 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would do the same thing but i have one question about my chickens my one hen who was egg bound and is recovering and my baby rooster that i hatched about 4/1 to 5 months old so and those. ---
    2 two want to fight all the time. every now and then and the rooster starts it would this be the same thing
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  7. lizardfi

    lizardfi New Egg

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  8. lizardfi

    lizardfi New Egg

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    Hi there I am doing this all wrong eek! I just joined this site today! Sounds like you have a similar problem to me Saltidog! Reading the responses to your post with great interest. Hope things resolve for all chickens & humans concerned!
     
  9. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    What your young cockerel and your hen are engaging in isn't the same sort of conflict Saltidog is experiencing. Your cockerel is taking his new hormones for a test drive and your hen is very annoyed with the behavior. She's trying to put him back in his proper place by being aggressive. You should see how all the girls in my flock are treating my newest cockerel. It's easy to see where 'hen-pecked" came from as a descriptive term for our human relationships.
     
  10. Chicken Egg 17

    Chicken Egg 17 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ya she really shows him who is boss but he olny does it to her
     
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