Why the sudden aggression?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ZenChicken, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. ZenChicken

    ZenChicken Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 14, 2012
    Rhode Island
    I'm wondering what might be going on in our flock. We have 12 young hens (just over 6 months old) that have been raised together since they were chicks. Yesterday afternoon I went to check on them and noticed that one of them had a bloody comb and head. I washed her up and applied blu-kot dressing. Looks like just her comb got ripped so nothing too major I don't think.

    I try to watch the girls several times a day for awhile to make sure everyone seems healthy and have never noticed much aggression. However, this morning I see that several hens have dried blood on their combs and a couple hens are being much more aggressive than usual.

    I think they have plenty of space (5 sq ft per hen inside the coop and 15 sq ft per hen in the run) and although the weather is colder, they still spend almost all of their time out in the run (not cooped up inside) scratching around. I throw a little scratch out for them every morning to give them something to do. They're being fed layer pellets (always available) and have access to crushed oyster shells for extra calcium. I also throw greens out to them every day in the afternoon.

    I can't think of anything that has changed except that we let them out to free range for the first time yesterday for 2 hours while we put up new hawk netting on their run. Is this an age thing because hormones have changed recently to start laying eggs (they're all laying now I think)?
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Age of dispersal. In wild chickens of that age, broods would be breaking up and going different directions away from parental flock. Aggression is part of process promoting dispersal. With present day flocks the dispersal pattern does not apply so fights simply impact social rank. Since so many birds in one location, potential is there for fighting to be more frequent and causing more damage than typical. It is at this time my free ranging groups of pullets bust up and begin using different roosting sites. Eventually the areas where they forage will no longer overlap.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2012
  3. ZenChicken

    ZenChicken Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks! That makes sense.

    I like your tagline....I'm new to chickens but want to understand everything I can about them!
     
  4. ZenChicken

    ZenChicken Out Of The Brooder

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    I've read on this forum that if there is a particularly bad "bully", you can isolate that bird for a few days to reduce it's social rank and break up the aggression a little bit. Would you recommend that in this kind of situation, or is it best to see if it will work itself out once the rank is reestablished?

    Thanks again.
     
  5. Smoochie

    Smoochie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Point of lay hens are usually quite hormonal and tend to ""cheer up " once eggs start coming. :rolleyes: For the picking I would sprinkle high quality cat food on the ground for some extra protein and salt. Hopefully it is just a phase:)
     

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