My most recent blog related the story of one of our hens being picked around the vent to such an extent I had to put it down.
The following day my wife and I had time to sit and watch the remaining three hens and were disturbed and concerned that one wearing a red and an orange ring on its legs just never left the other two alone. It persisted in sneaking up on them and picking their backside, with one of the victims crouching down and letting it do it. The two lesser hens never got a minute’s peace, and it is little wonder that there have been no eggs since last Thursday. It was clear that red/orange, the cannibalistic hen, was not going to be happy until it had drawn blood again, and there is little doubt that over the course of a couple of days it would have killed the two others.
A decision was made and it was smartly converted into a meal for our dog Molly and me (Jan agreed with the culling but didn’t want to eat it). Strangely it wasn’t the heaviest hen – that was one of the victims – but now the remaining two have a chance to relax, eat without getting their backsides picked and they should fatten up and start to lay again.
I suspect red/orange hen is the one that picked another hen to death last September, and within days picked another so badly I had to put it down. I noticed it started with picking out the feathers round the vent, then, when it got bare skin, picked right into the vent till it was bleeding and extruding. I suspect, like dogs that have killed sheep, it would be unlikely to stop this cannibalistic practice.