What do you do with quarreling hens?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by azygous, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Today my EE Francie and my Buff Brahma Joycie have decided they have irreconcilable differences. They've been going at one another, with Francie glomming onto Joycie's comb and not letting go, and Joycie not willing to back down. They're six weeks apart in age, by the way.

    I finally gathered them up and tossed the two into the rooster pen, where they immediately went a round or two with him behaving like a male human would when confronted with two brawling females - he tried to get in to break it up without getting hurt himself. He didn't appear to be very effective.

    I finally separated the two and gave them each a finger peck on the side of the neck. But, judging from the amount of loose feathers when I went back later to check on them, they had gone a few more rounds.

    At last check, several hours later, Joycie was enjoying a dirt bath and Francie was eating a bit of tortilla. Penrod still acted clueless.

    How effective are your roos in refereeing hen fights? Does he ever achieve lasting results? Is this a feature of spring arriving? Do hens get touchy with each other at this time of year?
     
  2. Bill 101

    Bill 101 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hens have a pecking order, & even if they have been together for some time #2 will decide to be #1 or maybe #3 will decide to be #2. So you will have fights break out at any time. An old Rooster can pretty much keep thing in order, but young ones have a little tougher time getting the old girls in line. It's nothing to worry about, it can get pretty brutal, but they seem to get it worked out. If you separate them it's even worse when you try putting them back together
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Well, they're separated at the moment because Joycie headed into the coop to lay an egg, and Francie followed on her heels intending to harass her on the nest.

    So right now, Francie is trying to pick a fight with Flo, who is in jail, and who is Joycie's age, younger than Francie. Francie has been trying to stir up trouble with Flo for weeks now, and if Francie manages to squeeze past me when I enter the jail enclosure, a knock-down fight immediately ensues.

    Francie is just spoiling for a good fight. She seems to be the aggressor, and these other two hens are lower in the pecking order. So there seems to be something going on other than a hen deciding to move up the pecking order.
     
  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Francie seems back to normal this morning. So far. I bunked her with the rooster in his coop to avoid roosting problems last night. This morning, I found she had laid an egg from the perch. Splat! I think she was in such a rage yesterday, she forgot to lay an egg.

    But so far, she and Joycie appear to have a truce. I'm not lowering my guard, however. Behavior extremes seem to occur more toward the later end of the day.
     
  5. kdwag

    kdwag Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh my gosh, funny story but I'm having the same issue with one of my hens fighting with another to the point of bloodiness. So, upon others' advice, she has been isolated, today being her 4th full day. I intend on letting her back in this evening, first free ranging with everyone and then all in together for roosting. My research suggests that at roosting time, bullying usually doesn't occur. I think that's true because before I separated her, they would go to bed without incident. I've had people tell me to let them fight it out and others say separate. I'm not big on letting one beat the crap out of the other to the point of bloodiness due to inciting a riot among everyone, mine are confined and I just added another 8 x 8 section of run to their existing 8 x 8 run, I only have 4 (no roo) so I have a hard time believing space is the issue but not sure. So, I hope there is some sort of peace this evening, and if there isn't, I'll have to make some decisions tomorrow. Not sure what that might be.
     
  6. mrsc1951

    mrsc1951 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Maybe it's the weather, or the comet that is coming so close to the earth or who knows what but I am in the same boat. I have a little bantam hen who has been spoiling for a fight for a couple of days now. She even tries to pick on my huge SLW/Cochin girl who tops the scales at over 9 lbs. She went broody in November for a few days then molted and hasn't laid an egg since. I don't count on her eggs but am wondering if there is something wrong because all my others who molted have been laying for two months.
     
  7. kdwag

    kdwag Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, I put my crazy girl out tonight to free range and she did well until they all got into their run and then she took off after the victim hen. I don't know what to do with them. I'll see how bad it gets tomorrow. I am reading an awful lot of posts however of birds going bad all of a sudden, maybe it is the weather -- maybe it's raging hormones!! LOL although, my girls have been laying for a few weeks now and it just started last weekend.
     
  8. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    The day wore on, and I was right not to lower my guard. By late morning Francie and Joycie were at each other again in spite of being let out to free range.

    By afternoon, they were in full rev, going at each other like they were in a cock fighting ring. Interestingly, another hen the same age as Francie intervened twice as they were fighting. The first time, Su-su actually was successful at breaking up the fight. The second time, not so much. I finally stepped in and separated them when I saw Joycie's comb was bleeding.

    By 4 pm, I couldn't take any more of their brawling, and tossed Francie in with the rooster, and she's bunking with him again tonight. I even built her a nest box in that coop since she may be spending a stretch of time in there. My little fighters don't call a truce at roosting time. Last week, Francie was already roosting when Joycie entered the coop. She jumped down off the perch and attacked Joycie. That was the first time they fought.

    It's clear that Francie is the aggressor, so I will treat this as a bully/victim issue and remove the bully from the main flock for awhile. She and the rooster aren't completely separated from the flock. Their pen shares one common fence so they can all still see each other. The rooster is in seclusion because three other hens have taken too much of an interest in nibbling on his feathers.

    I sure hope time will smooth things over. This is no fun.
     
  9. kdwag

    kdwag Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree, no fun. THis morning there has been some chasing and pushing but nothing violent but there's a lot of daylight left. The extra space has helped because they keep pretty separated. There were all hanging out by the coop ready for nesting mode and I didn't see anything bad but i'm not constantly watching them. I can't take the pressure...LOL If she starts acting badly again, I'll just put her back in isolation I guess until I can figure out what to do with her. Hoping I don't have to, but will see.
     
  10. nova022

    nova022 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have to keep two seperate flocks. I have five 8 month olds and four 6 month olds and the older ones have never accepted the younger ones. #1 and #2 are really mean to all the younger ones and the other three will follow their lead. I have tried the side by side runs, free ranging together and sneaking the younger ones on roosts at night and none of it has worked. The older ones brutally attack the younger no matter what time of day. My next ploy is to add the older girls one at a time to the younger flock. There is one or two older ones that behave decently to the younger ones when not influenced by the #1 and #2 girls. I am hoping that by introducing them one at a time they will get along better when #1 and #2 are introduced.
     

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