Our oldest chickens have reached sexual maturity. Unfortunately for us, this means that they have become extremely aggressive and have started picking on the next oldest (the 13 weekers). They would probably pick on and most likely kill the youngest ones also, if they were allowed to be around them. Thankfully, we don’t allow that.
Up until the past week or so, the two older sets of chickens free ranged and cooped together at night peacefully. Since we live on 5 acres and the chickens have the free reign of all of it, I didn’t expect there to be any problems, especially since they have been fine together for so long. I didn’t anticipate that the oldest chickens would start doing what they are doing.
There are 4 oldest chickens, one pullet (female) and three cockerels (male). We were planning on butchering at least one of the males, but haven’t got around to it because it has been raining a lot in the past week. In the past week, the three males have started singling out one of the 13 weekers, and getting her away from her group. They chase her over under my husband’s truck and then take their turns mounting her. The 13 weekers aren’t old enough for that yet, but the big boys don’t care.
This morning they got a hold of my favorite one and had her scared to death. I picked her up and tried to find the rest of her group, and it took me a long time. I finally found them huddled up in a tight pile at the very far edge of our woods, hiding from the big boys.
Today we went grocery shopping, which usually takes us half of a day. When we got back I only saw five of the six 13 week old girls hanging out at the feeder. They rarely are apart, so we went to look for the 6th one. We found her in the big coop, and we thought she was dead. There is a space on each side of the roosting bars about 4″ wide, and she was wedged down in it with one foot sticking out. We thought she was dead, but saw her foot wiggling so we opened the big door to the coop and pulled her out. Thank goodness she was alive.
I think the big boys chased her and she ran into the coop and tried to huddle in the corner to get away from them, and she fell down in the space and got stuck. Who knows how long she was stuck there. When I got her out I tried putting her on the ground with her friends and she was limping very badly and was holding her wing in a weird position. I picked her back up and held her for a while until she decided to get up on her own.
I didn’t feel comfortable letting the girls sleep in the coop with the big boys, so I put them in the little coop and left the little chickens in the tractor for the night. I thought we would only be butchering only one or two of the big boys, but after today we are going to butcher all three of them. I’m just too afraid of something worse happening, one of the actually getting killed. Depending on how “Mama”, the female in that group, acts after the big boys are gone, she may be butchered also.
Since all of the 13 weekers are females, I don’t have to worry about anything like this happening with the little chickens or our new babies that are coming sometime this coming week. Females will lay eggs even without a rooster, so I will wait until they are all laying to get another rooster and try again. Eventually I want my chickens to breed so we don’t have to buy chickens again for a while (and hopefully never again!)
My poor babies! Hopefully we’ll get this chicken thing figured out soon!!