Why are hens suddenly fighting?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by dustbath, May 23, 2012.

  1. dustbath

    dustbath Songster

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    A few weeks ago, I acquired 6 hens from a hen and added them to my flock of 4 hens and a rooster. My original birds all hatched out together and never had any social problems (fighting). I introduced the new ones gradually and there were no problems.

    They free range all day, from an hour or two after sun-up to sun-down and are locked in the hen-house at night.

    The day before yesterday, I had to leave them inside slightly longer than usual. When I released them, two or my original hens started fighting. I left them at it, assuming they had to work out a new peck order, but they realy went at it, for a long time, despite it being clear who was winning. I finally separated them when it looked like real injury might result.

    I left the weaker hen ("the black one") in a cage but with the other birds all day yesterday and put her back on the roost after dark last night.

    I let them out first thing this morning. When I went out to check on things, shortly after they emerged, the "black one" was hiding behind the henhouse and her opponent ("the brown one") was fighting with the other, third, old hen. This went on and on with the Black One, making noise behind the henhouse. After a lot of noise, I swear the Black One started to crow! It was a noise unlike any I've heard from a hen and it really sounded like a full-fledged crow! She laid an egg yesterday too, in the isolation cage, so I know it was hers.

    I removed the Third Hen. After a while the Black One emerged and started fighting with the Brown One again. I've now got the Brown One in isolation, the Black One is parading outside the cage, and the Third Hen is staying out of the way.

    Has anyone had this experience? What about the crowing? Any advice on how to stop the fighting before they really hurt each other?

    I had a brief conversation with a vet friend who mentioned that sudden extremely aggressive fighting could be a sign of a tumor affecting estrogen or testosterone production. But what about that egg??

    I really don't want to have to take care of separate flocks (or an isolated hen). Please help! Many thanks!!
     
  2. The birds must re-order their entire social order, since the introduction of total strangers upset the universe and has created a disturbance in the force. In mingling flocks, you've created a situation. Sometimes it resolves itself in a day or two, but sometimes, it creates such awful tension. In the absence of a rooster to keep peace and order, hens act out. Yes, the top hen will often crow and take a rooster's place but she doesn't do either very well. Your rooster SHOULD keep peace, but he isn't doing his job right now.

    Removing those being picked on is not a solution. Removing the top bully or two is a solution. Put the top bully in a pen/cage for 8 days of isolation and when re-introduced, it is possible she will have lost her top dog status. It's worth a try. You can try having safe place or escape areas to which the picked on can run, but I've never found that as successful as removing and isolating the bully.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2012
  3. dainerra

    dainerra Crowing

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    agreed, the one to remove in a situation like this is the bully. But, I use that as a last resort if the birds can't work it out. As long as no one is bleedign or seriously injured let them figure it out.
     
  4. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer

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    Pinless Peepers may stop aggression.
     
  5. dainerra

    dainerra Crowing

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    I wouldn't consider something like that unless it's an ongoing problem or there was a hen causing serious injury.
     
  6. dustbath

    dustbath Songster

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    I was tempted to let them fight it out but they are bleeding (or at least scratched: no blood is dripping but their faces are reddish). I'm afraid they'll peck each other's eyes if I leave them alone.

    I have the bully isolated now and I'll see if that helps.

    The crowing hen isn't particularly the top one: she's the one picked on first.

    Why would this problem emerge after two weeks or so of complete peace and total integration? I expected it at first but thought I was safe.

    What's a pinless peeper?

    Thanks!!
     
  7. dotsmom

    dotsmom In the Brooder

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    It's been raining all day here--buckets and buckets. I have two Brahmas, raised together since I bought them. Tonight, as I was trying to shut up all the coops, one of the Brahma's started pecking at and pulling at the nape of the other hen. They wouldn't go in their coop, but I grabbed the one doing the pecking and put her in, then shooed the other one in. The peckish hen wouldn't let the other hen on the crate they roost on. I have no idea what prompted this behavior. They ran the yard together all day without a problem.

    Any insights? I need to check on them in a bit, just to make sure no one is bleeding!
     
  8. vdw47933

    vdw47933 Hatching

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    I have the same problem. Only I have two hens who have lived together since they hatched. They have been best friends, rarely getting more the smaller one has started chasing the larger one, getting her down and pecking her.
    The larger one does not fight back, but runs away. I separated them for a week in adjoining pens where they could see each other and be close but when I re-united them it started again. I cannot deal with keeping them separated . Does anyone have an answer?
     
  9. dustbath

    dustbath Songster

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    I've posted on this before and never found a solution. People generally do say just let them fight and they'll work it out but my hens do seem intent on killing each other and have fought for hours.

    I have found that this is less of a problem when I enlarged my flock for some reason.

    Hope someone has a solution for you. Good luck!
     
  10. Jussiewahine

    Jussiewahine Hatching

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    I have a red shaver who was a pair until one of them was killed. 2 years ago she started to crow so I was told to get some fertilised eggs for her to hatch and she would be fine. She has been a fantastic mum but last week she suddenly started dominating/fighting the two chicken - these are a different breed. Within days one of the little hens had laid an egg...what should I do?
     

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