Disturbing Rooster Behavior

nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)July 17, 2008

I have been witnessing some disturbing rooster behavior and I hope that someone can shed some light on this:

I have a small flock of 13 hens and 1 rooster. About 2 months ago my SS hen caught a cold or something, she was wheezing and kind of honking (coughing). Following the advice here I treated her with a a broad spectrum antibiotic and she seems to have made a full recovery.

I don't know how long before I realized she had this "cold" I noticed the rooster chasing her off from the flock. At the time I thought it strange but did not relate it until I realized she was sick. When I realized this, I separated her from the flock to administer her treatment and all went well.

The problem is that while she has been back with the flock free ranging for a few hours a day for several weeks now - I have noticed the rooster attacking her from the front. She sort of lays down and puts her head to the ground and he pecks at her head from the front full force.

Since I have seen this I watch the flock carefully. She keeps at the perimeter and doesn't come in close to the others but he still attacks her when she does and I don't know how often when I am not looking.

When the attacks happen she just lays down ( not squatting) and puts up with his tirade. I don't dare let her in with the others and him. I feel bad that she might feel isolated.

Does any one know what this behavior means? I think that HE thinks she is still sick and is protecting his flock. I am not sure but she is not sick that I can tell.

I wonder if I should keep him on the outside looking in because I don't think it's fair to keep her from the rest of the girls who don't seem to have a problem with her. Will keeping him on the outside looking in be too stressful for him?

Any input would be appreciated.

Thanks.

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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Why not cull her from the flock, she could still be sick, he would be able to tell better than you.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 12:30AM
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nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)

Frankly she is a pet as is my all of my little flock.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 7:04AM
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backlanelady(6oh)

I would put her back in with the hens and take the roo out for 3-7 days. I would think if she was contagious that some of the other hens would already be sick.
Put the roo somewhere where he can't see the hens while they are seperated. Maybe this will change the behavior.
I never saw this behavior before between a hen and a roo that have been together. It sounds more like something two roos would do.
Maybe once she is back in the flock and he is the newcomer again that he will stop?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 12:37PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

She may be a pet but you have 13 other pets and I'm sure you would be mighty crestfallen if the other 13 fell ill. If she were healthy she would stand up for her self a little, she knows she is weak and he knows she is weak, just because you gave her a broad spectrum antibiotic (with out running cultures) she doesn't show any major symptoms does not mean that she isn't still sick, she could still be a vector for disease to catch the rest of your flock. The only reason we have strong and healthy chicken breeds today is because the weak chickens were culled from past generations.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 1:11PM
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nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)

Brendan,

I totally agree and appreciate what you are saying and if I thought she were seriously ill or suffering I would do the right thing. She is in fact, perfectly healthy, happy and laying eggs like a hen should. I do think that if she had something contagious others would have shown signs by now as it's been going on for over a month. I am a responsible animal owner.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 4:41PM
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greenmulberry(5-Iowa City)

I agree with removing the rooster for a while. I have had the greatest success when one chicken in picking on another, by removing the aggressor.

They tend not to be so confident when you put them back in the flock, and it gives the one having a hard time a chance to regain confidence.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 12:14PM
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