Would two sister hens (that have been with each other for a year) fight?

dogandchickenmom

In the Brooder
Mar 6, 2018
15
1
24
Hi everyone! I am new to posting to the community (I have always come on here for questions for my ladies but have always found an answer until now)!

For some background, I have two easter Eggers that are from the same litter (not sure if this is the correct term for chickens..) and they are about a year old now. They are pretty much inseparable and never are too far away from each other. I'm going to reference them by name in my post. Mary is the dominant one and Martha is her follower.

Today I came home from work and usually the girls are waiting for me on the back stoop but instead of my chickens I found a pile of feathers! I was super freaked out and found Martha hiding under my rain gutter (which has never happened before) and she had a bald spot between her wings from feathers being torn out (pic almost does justice for size) and her right eye was swollen with some blood. I could not find Mary anywhere!! I wandered around my neighborhood for about an hour asking strangers if they'd seen my chicken. About 1.5 hours had gone by and a stranger returned her to me. She looked completely fine and untouched. My chickens NEVER leave the yard so this was very strange.

When the two girls got back together Mary pecked at Martha so I separated them.

Is it possible that Mary could beat up Martha like that and not have a scratch? Can hens that were from the same litter and together for a year all of a sudden turn on each other? Today has been so bizarre and scary (thinking one of my babies was gone) that I'm not sure where to go from here.
 

dogandchickenmom

In the Brooder
Mar 6, 2018
15
1
24
I posted photos of Martha for reference.
IMG_8368.jpeg
IMG_8373-1.jpeg
 

Hufflefluff

Songster
Apr 28, 2015
183
284
172
Northeast CO
It absolutely sounds like some sort of animal attacked your chickens. Do hens peck each other occasionally? Yeah, sure. But almost never to that extent with that little warning. The red spots look like they could be bite marks or scratches.
My guess from the available information is that some animal (maybe a dog?) got into your yard and chased them. I'd wager that is probably grabbed Martha by her side feathers, and the ripped out as she struggled to get away, finally succeeding at escaping and promptly hiding where it couldn't get to her (smart girl!)
Mary probably used this opportunity to escape as far and as fast as she could- fear would have driven her to leave your yard, even when she would not have normally.

I'm so glad your girls are okay. If possible, I'd strongly recommend predator proofing your yard/ run so this can't happen again. I'm sorry that this was such a scary occurrence.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
24,364
42,847
1,156
southern Michigan
Welcome! I'm glad your hens made it home and are not too injured. I agree about a predator attack, and recommend that you keep them in their safe coop and run until you have this solved. Any critter will return, so be ready!
If it was a raptor, they tend to give up after ten days or more, if they fail to get a bird.
Ground predators are more difficult, but electric fencing is the best against them. See 'Premier1supplies.com' for electrified poultry netting, and very good advice. HowardE here has good advice about electric wire fencing.
Mary
 

dogandchickenmom

In the Brooder
Mar 6, 2018
15
1
24
It absolutely sounds like some sort of animal attacked your chickens. Do hens peck each other occasionally? Yeah, sure. But almost never to that extent with that little warning. The red spots look like they could be bite marks or scratches.
My guess from the available information is that some animal (maybe a dog?) got into your yard and chased them. I'd wager that is probably grabbed Martha by her side feathers, and the ripped out as she struggled to get away, finally succeeding at escaping and promptly hiding where it couldn't get to her (smart girl!)
Mary probably used this opportunity to escape as far and as fast as she could- fear would have driven her to leave your yard, even when she would not have normally.

I'm so glad your girls are okay. If possible, I'd strongly recommend predator proofing your yard/ run so this can't happen again. I'm sorry that this was such a scary occurrence.
Thank you for the quick response!!
 

dogandchickenmom

In the Brooder
Mar 6, 2018
15
1
24
I think it was a predator.

When you say she, 'pecked' her, was it like ripping out feathers or just a tap?

If it was tap, it might just be them greeting each other.
definitely a tap but since Martha's right side is so beat up I wasn't sure if I should keep them together without confirming with more experienced chicken owners to make sure something like this couldn't have come from Mary. I've also heard that chickens can peck at an injured one because of the blood.. not sure if this is true or not
 

dogandchickenmom

In the Brooder
Mar 6, 2018
15
1
24
should I continue to keep the girls separated until Martha is all healed up or do you think it's fine to keep them together?
 

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