They're trying to kill her!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by dianneS, Nov 5, 2011.

  1. dianneS

    dianneS Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 16, 2009
    South Central PA
    All of a sudden my flock of hens has decided to gang up on my only Cochin bantam and I'm sure that they are determined to kill her.

    This cochin was here long before these other hens. She's one of the only left in my original flock. Newly mature hens are picking on her as well as older hens that have been with her for years.

    I've never seen violence like this before. I knocked two of them off of her with a broom and when she ran and hid in a nest box, one more ran after her and jumped in the nest box on top of her! The back of her head is bald already.

    This little hen has isolated herself in a horse stall. I gave her her own food and water. I have the rest locked in the coop today so this gal can get fresh air and sunshine without fear of attack, however, she is afraid to come out of her stall.

    I'm not sure what to do, or why this happened? I did lose my rooster recently, do you think he was keeping the peace and with him gone its now total mayhem? What if they single out another and do this again?
  2. JodyJo

    JodyJo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 27, 2010
    I see nobody commented sorry for your little one...I would think that the rooster helped keep the peace as well.

    If it doesn't change, you may have to rehome your little can't have her living in fear...I hope someone else has some advice.

    It would be difficult to continue what you are doing, there is no enjoyment in having to break up fights and keep them segregated...good luck!
  3. angie3881

    angie3881 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I don't know the answer and I would be just sick. I hope someone has some good suggestions for you, so I am bumping you. Best wishes!
  4. dianneS

    dianneS Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 16, 2009
    South Central PA
    I just went out to check on her and she's in the corner of the horse stall. She won't come out. I threw some crushed blue corn chips outside the door for her and she won't move. The other chickens are in the coop so they can't hurt her, but she's still too scared to come out.

    I'm concerned a raccoon might get her while in the barn at night. I may have to find her a new home. This isn't fair to her. I sure do wish I had that separate bantam pen I had been planning on getting (but still don't have) then I wouldn't have this problem.

    Could their be something wrong with her that the other hens are sensing?
  5. Tracy the chick

    Tracy the chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 28, 2011
    This is a long shot but try spraying her with antpecking spray! Thats all i can think of.. I have a chicken who lives with 8 week old babies as her flock kicked her out, she loves been mamma now [​IMG]
  6. ellieroo

    ellieroo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 22, 2008
    Watch and see if you can tell who is leading the attacks and remove her / put her in a cage for a few days. That may stop the attacks. the removed hen will have to re establish herself upon return and that may help in the long run. [​IMG]
  7. Little One

    Little One Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 9, 2011
    SE Virginia
    They can sense weakness or illness and gang up on a hen to possibly force her out/get rid of her. Had this happen to a sick hen, the back of her neck was picked bald. If she stumbled while trying to get away, it was like a signal for more to pounce on her. She is permanently separated now, and we will never be able to reintroduce her to the flock. We even have a RIR hen that circles her enclosure, trying to lunge at her through the fence. [​IMG]
  8. NottinghamChicks

    NottinghamChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:She is too traumatized to feel safe now and she does need a secure pen so she doesn't get taken be a predator. If it were me I would make her a new pen or buy one on CL and keep her in that within the run area. At night put her in a small dog crate inside the coop. It's all you can do for her. Rehoming a single chicken is very difficult unless you know someone with a bantam coop who will take her.

    She could have something wrong with her but it is likely more of a pecking order out of control.

    Good luck...
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2011
  9. Uniontown Poultry

    Uniontown Poultry Chillin' With My Peeps

    What breeds/sizes/ages are the others? How long has your roo been gone? Has this flock been established for awhile, or do birds come and go? How long have the girls been tormenting your bantam hen?

    Sometimes the roo is the lynchpin holding a flock's pecking order together, and his removal will start the hens fighting among themselves for a place in the new pecking order. A good roo keeps his girls in line so everyone feels secure in their place and there is no fighting (there are bad roos too, who are only concerned with their own food, water, and satisfaction, but most roos will keep the peace b/c flock safety is easy to monitor if no one's running and squawking and feathers aren't flying). You may end up having to get another roo if you can, before you can re-introduce your poor girl.

    Some breeds are more aggressive than others (Cochins are usually very docile) and bantams tend to have lower slots in the pecking order because of their size (game banties might be lower, but they sure don't act like it). A flock that's well-established, with fewer chickens coming and going is actually likely to adjust to flock changes more smoothly than a flock whose population is always changing. The flock in flux may act more dramatically and peck newcomers more aggressively. Sounds like your flock just went all to heck w/o the roo, and now everyone is unsure of their position in the order & aggressively sorting it out - which sometimes means ganging up.

    So, after all this blahblahblah, here are some things that might help:
    Your poor little hen's immediate safety is job#1. You'll probably need to cage her up and bring her into your house if the barn's not got a secure place for her cage. Keep her safe and warm (using a heat lamp or putting her in a warm place) for a few days, to let her system recover from the stress. Some electrolytes in her water may be a good idea (they make special electrolyte mixes for chickens, like Sav-a-Chick, etc.). Give her a treat as well. Quiet, warm, secure, electrolyte, treat: these are just the things a harried hen needs.

    If you can, replace the rooster who's gone with another rooster and give him a little time to sort out the hens (once he's walking around like he's at home and when he can tread a hen, then things should be stabilized there). If you can't replace him or want a roosterless flock, you'll need to give the more aggressive ladies extra time to sort out who is where in the order before you can safely bring your poor girl back in. When the big girls have gotten themselves settled, it will be only the lower-ranked chickens that peck on your hen to make sure she knows she's at the bottom, and the top hens won't really participate.

    Re-introduce your bantam hen slowly, like putting her cage out in the yard (if your chickens free-range) or bring her cage closer and closer to their pen (if they don't), so they get used to seeing her. You can put her cage inside the pen if the pen is big enough. When you can be around to watch them, let her out of the cage so she's back with the others. They may chase and peck a little, but they should stop (except for an occasional "warning peck" when they feel she has overstepped herself) when she takes a submissive posture (front crouching, head down). A distraction for them might reduce their aggression, such as a treat that keeps them busy - a flock block, a forage cake, a 1/2 of a cabbage for them to peck. I would also recommend that you have some blood stop powder on hand just in case. Blood stop powder makes a rubbery black seal over open wounds so they heal and don't attract unwanted pecking by the other chickens. Blue-kote works in the same manner.

    I hope that this helps! I have a multi-breed flock with a single Cochin bantam myself, but my old Delaware roo and hen run a pretty tight ship, pecking order-wise. My Cochin bantam (a Mille-Coch named Carmelita) is kind of mean, so I guess she holds her own. Keeping my fingers crossed for you.[​IMG]
  10. SpeckledHills

    SpeckledHills Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 25, 2008
    You can put some obstacles around to help out chickens that are getting picked on too much. These give the chickens something to hide behind, jump onto and run around while evading attacks from other chickens.

    ***Always be sure no blocked-off or dead-end areas are created where any chicken could get cornered.***

    Sacks of feed, buckets, additional perches, trash cans, etc. can be useful.

    Window frames (with either glass or wire in the middle) leaned against things can also be excellent for a flee-er to run behind and be protected yet be able to keep track of aggressor's travels. Window frames are even better if you can nail them so they are stand vertically and are at 90 degree angle to the wall. Then a fleeing chicken can also have the option to jump up and perch on the top edge to escape, and pursuer can't immediately chase her if she jumps down on the opposite side.

    Lower-ranking chickens also appreciate shadowy, cluttered areas where they can hang out and not be noticed as much.

    It helps to put food & water in some of these areas so less-dominant chickens still get plenty to eat and drink.

    You can also take a nail file & file down the tip of each of the really dominant chickens' beaks a little. Then it's a little less painful & fearful for a lower-ranking chicken to get pecked.

    Maybe these ideas can help your little bantam if/when you think it would be good to try reintroducing her???

    Also, if you do reintroduce her, you can put one or two of the gentler chickens in with her a few days beforehand in whatever temporary quarters you come up with. Then she can potentially develop a good relationship with them & have a buddy when they rejoin the flock (plus a couple other chickens to share & dilute "chase-the-newbie" energies from other chickens).
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2011

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