Why did they do this? (sorry long thread)

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ukchickengirl, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. ukchickengirl

    ukchickengirl Songster

    Sep 5, 2007
    Toowoomba, QLD
    I have 4 hens (all laying) and 2 chicks i hatched out, the "chicks" (one roo one pullet) were 16 weeks old so i started them on layers and put the run next to the girls run for about a week, then one night at dusk, put the 2 "chicks" in the hen house and let them all out the next day together as advised by various sources ( a vet included!) this was all fine until 3 days later when the 4 girls attacked the "chicks" and pulled all of their bottom feathers (not tail) out. I seperated them immediately and cleaned up the wounds and they were both ok (until a week later and the pullet never fully recovered and stopped eating so she had to go the way of the rooster.... [​IMG] )

    But why did they do this?!

    H x [​IMG]
  2. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    I'm so sorry to hear this. I don't have any experience with my chickens attacking each other but from what I've read they can be very "territorial" especially when they are laying. That could have been what happened. The older laying hens were threatened by the new arrivals and the pecking order got established. Unfortunately the younger, non-laying chicks fell to bottom of pecking order. I don't think it's ever a good idea to introduce any new bird into a pen full of laying hens - kind of like a bunch of hormonal women. [​IMG]
  3. Queen of the Lilliputians

    Queen of the Lilliputians Songster

    Apr 5, 2007
    I struggled with something similar last fall. I had bought a cockeral and a pullet (not quite laying age). Although I tried to do the correct things while introducing them to the Bigger Girls, things took MONTHS to settle down.. eventually the big girls stopped chasing her.. but in the end the pullet still wasn't happy. She's in the house now, in a brooder box with two younger (13wks) chicks. She's much happier, and the three are getting along quite well. Out of them, she's top girl. The cockeral, on the other hand, seemed to take it in stride. He didn't let the bigger girls push him around, so after a couple of days, they just accepted him.

    Now.. I'm not saying it's possible to start an entirely new flock for every new pullet you bring in [​IMG] , but that was the only solution to our problem, other than to make Jane a house chicken full time. I have introduced other birds to the flock, and that seemed to go fine, so not sure why my situation, or yours, was so difficult. At the risk of anthropomorphizing (which I think is a crock anyway), I'd hazard a guess that there are lots of personality types with chickens, just like with people. Some birds just can't adjust to being last rung on the flock ladder, but don't have the assertiveness necessary to be further up.

    I'd love to do a years' long study on chicken personality dynamics.. but my family would probably have me committed [​IMG]
  4. pepperluvsmee

    pepperluvsmee Songster

    Feb 2, 2008
    Seven Valleys, Pa
    Well, where shall I begin. Have you ever been or worked with a bunch of women? I have never been around any other kind of animal that is so "territorial" as hens. I have been around horses, dogs, donkeys, goats, any kind of bird you can imagine and the list goes on.....
    Hens can be sooo funny about thier "house". The pecking order is so fierce with birds and so important to thier safety. (Safety in numbers)
    I am going to assume that the new babes wouldnt listen to the head hen and she got quite upset. I know it sounds weird, but they (the youngsters) were being thier adolecent selves and the hens were not about to put up with it.
    And those head hens can be relentless in thier punishment, sometimes to the death.
    It took me 8 years to gather my flock of chickens. Over 19 birds in all. They all got along. With only 5 hens in the bunch. But they kept order, if anyone got out of line it was Jingle, the head hen that pecked them on the head and told them to behave, not her husband the head rooster. It's a very funny, but structured society, chicken flocks.
    Good luck in the future with your youngsters. Maybe you can let them out in the yard together, so they can distance themselves from the hens until they earn the right to be in the flock.

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