Very aggressive pullet; I'm about to eat her

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by dubnugs, Nov 19, 2016.

  1. dubnugs

    dubnugs Hatching

    Nov 19, 2016
    NW Florida
    Hi all -

    I'll try to keep this short, but I'll answer as much as I can now. I'm sorry if it gets too long....

    I bought four RIR day-old chicks last April. I learned everything I know about chickens right here on BYC, including coop ideas, mama heating pad, fermenting feed, and roll-out nest boxes. Thanks to all of your great ideas, I thought I was home free until they started laying and the hormones started raging. I refer to them by their leg band colors, which are White, Black, Green, and Olive.

    After they got a few months old I noticed that Olive seemed weird, because I would see her trying to fly up into the hardware cloth of their run. It's an old swing/play structure, so the run tapers up to the top. She did it often enough that her wing tips got flailed and ratty looking. I ignored it, thinking that she was just strange or maybe trying to get a flying bug or something. They have plenty of space; a 12 by 12 foot run connected to the 12 by 8 foot "coop" under the play structure. They have a roost bar that they only use to nap during the day, and a four-rung ladder that they sleep on at night. White sleeps at the top, Olive at the bottom, and the others in between. They usually double up on a rung. Yes, the lower ones get pooped on by the upper ones. They have a roost bar....

    Fast forward a few months. They started laying later than I had hoped, but we did have a hot summer here in NW Florida. Olive started first, and went right to work producing six eggs a week. Green and White were next, followed slowly by Black (the largest of the four). Soon after Black started laying, I was outside on a Saturday and heard a big commotion in the run. Olive was doing the fly up and scrub her wings thing, but this time I saw Green actively chasing her. When I looked closely, both of them had blood on them. Olive was bleeding from her comb, and Green was bleeding from her right wattle under her ear.

    I quickly used some hardware cloth to make a jail for green and threw her in. She spent a week in jail, with me having to feed her separately and fetch her eggs at night. Their water comes from a rain barrel, and I made it multi-ported, so it wasn't a problem. I let Green out of jail on the next Friday night, and all seemed well. By Saturday afternoon, Green was after Olive again, and this time she pinned her down with firm intent. I pinned Green down for a minute, and put her back in jail. Olive acted starved, like she had been denied food and water all day.

    Green spent two more weeks in jail, and quit laying during the first week. The days are getting shorter, and it's very shady in the jail under the play structure, so that is reasonable considering the stress of jail and all. After more reading on BYC, I decided that the run doesn't have any hiding places, so I went out this morning and built a play structure in the run. It includes plenty of places for a chicken to "disappear" for a moment. I let Green out, and she bee-lined for Olive, jumped on her back, and went for her neck. I shooed her off (I was still putting the last screws in the structure). A minute later, she did it again. I grabbed her by the neck and squeezed while I rolled her onto her back. I held her neck until her eyes lost focus (a few seconds), then put her down on their new leaf pile. She got up a few seconds later and acted a little more restrained.

    Now, a few hours later, Olive is sitting on the roost bar, and Green is in the best place in the run for her to guard the entire place. I need to fix this quickly. Things were pretty peaceful while Green was in jail, but jail is a real pain for me, and she's not laying any more while in the slammer.

    Yes, they could all see each other during the jail stint. Hard panels are possible, but I'd like to know that they will work before I make the effort. It is an effort.

    My options, as I see them:
    1. Let them fight it out. That probably means that Olive will starve to death and I will be perpetually mad at Green.
    2. Make jail permanent, with a nest box that I can get to and a trap door for me to get in if I need to.
    3. Eat Green. I have absolutely no problem doing this, but I bought her for the eggs, not the meat.
    4. Eat Olive. Hardly seems fair, but she is still producing six a week, and I bought her for the eggs too.

    None of these are great choices, but right now I'm leaning toward eating Green.

    Thanks in advance, and sorry for the long post.


    - Dub
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Free Ranging Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Personally, I'd eat Green. If you ate Olive, there might be a chance that Green would then target another one. Sometimes a chicken just does not fit well with the flock and needs to be removed.
    1 person likes this.
  3. As much as I HATE HATE HATE to say this, eat green.
  4. jennyf

    jennyf Songster

    Apr 24, 2016
    I haven't tried them, but they're cheap at least--any chance pinless peepers might be effective/appropriate for this situation (if eating Green isn't your preference)? :)
  5. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    You could try them, but I think they work better for more minor aggression issues and/or feather pecking. Frankly, I think Green has screw loose. I 100% agree with @bobbi-j sometimes a bird just doesn't fit in and sees absolutely everything as a threat....she apparently has bullied Olive so successfully for so long that Olive is afraid of her own shadow and Green will eventually kill her, turn her aggression to either another chicken or worse, you. Yep, aggressive hens sometimes can and do attack people. My suggestion is to stop worrying about jail and start thinking crockpot. Sorry, not the answer you wanted to hear, I know, but I've had to do it too. <sigh>

    I know it's kinda under nasty circumstances, but welcome to BYC....we are glad to have you and happy to help if we can.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2016
  6. Zoomie

    Zoomie Songster

    Dec 6, 2015
    Mora, NM USA
    I will chime in with the rest and say - put Green in her place, a pot with carrots and potatoes. [​IMG] Not nice I guess but I always tell people: that kind tastes better. You have a nice producing hen who is being harassed to death, if it were me I would step in and save her, and get rid of the bully. Who is not even laying.

    One nice thing about chickens: they are replaceable. Sometimes, things just don't work out; well, there are lots of other hens out there if you decide to get another, and then you can use "jail" to help introduce a new hen. You are not obliged to have to get along with a cantankerous hen.
  7. dubnugs

    dubnugs Hatching

    Nov 19, 2016
    NW Florida
    Thanks for the replies (and the welcome). I'll head over to the local feed store tomorrow to see if they have Pinless Peepers in stock. I'm not going to wait around for mail order before I do something to change the situation. Another week in jail would be OK with me, though, especially if the Peepers can cure her psychotic behavior.

    As for replacement, I suppose I could do that, but adding a new one to a flock of three seems like more trouble than it is worth. The county thinks that I should only have four chickens total, so I'm trying to be good and stay within the rules. Now, if I could find 20-week pullets around here, I might go that way. I don't feel like rolling the dice on a new chick and feeding her to point of lay just to have one more egg a day.

    I noticed this evening that Green was on the top rung of the ladder, and White was below her. Olive stayed on the roost bar all afternoon as far as I can tell. I guess Green spent her time in the big house earning her GED and learning how to climb the corporate ladder.

    By the way, I chose RIRs because of their alleged heat tolerance and good production, plus the fact that they were bred originally as dual-purpose birds in case they didn't work out. I knew that they could be aggressive, but I though that it would be mostly against non-red birds. Oh well. My next choice was Turkens, but I was afraid that the mosquitos would drive them crazy with their bare necks.

    - Dub
  8. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    If ever a chicken deserved eating it is Green. Don't believe for a minute she has changed, If she goes after Olive again, you will probably have a dead Olive. RIR are known to be aggressive.
  9. dubnugs

    dubnugs Hatching

    Nov 19, 2016
    NW Florida
    The local feed store didn't have peepers.

    I'm still trying to figure out exactly what is happening, and who is going after whom. It looks to me like Black is on Green's side, and White is on Olive's side. They are attempting to keep Olive from either of the two food trays. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with eating Green, but it is a rather final decision and I would prefer to choose correctly. I also have absolutely no fear that she will attack me. If she does, I will kill her instantly.

    It did occur to me this morning that the plan all along was to wait until they were all laying in the nest boxes, then allow them some free range time. I have a fenced acre with heavy brush that they can disappear into (lots of palmettos, etc.). I'm not holding out hope that free ranging could solve the problem, but I'd like to hear more from all of you. I suspect that it could just cause other problems that I would have to fix.

    Just to make things slightly more confusing, Green laid today, and Olive didn't. I can give Olive a pass for being scared, but it just figures that Green would produce right away.

    Thanks, everyone!

    - Dub
  10. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Crowing

    Apr 12, 2013
    Boulder, Colorado
    Lack of free ranging can have everything to do with aggressive behavior.

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