Marv was here first and is therefore head rooster. He considers all the hens his. If Merv comes too close to Marv or one of the hens when Marv is close by, Marv chases him off. Merv should be scared. Marv has killed a rival rooster in the past. But Merv is younger, faster and, well, trimmer. So far Merv has always been able to get away. Granted, sometimes it means Merv has to fly over fences into part of the yard that is off limits to chickens or into our neighbor's backyard. Sometimes he goes back over on his own when the coast is clear. Sometimes he needs some encouragement.
Loner Merv in the run between the chicken house and chicken yard.
If it were up to Jamey and I, Merv may have already been harvested for the freezer. Our chickens are not pets to us, despite the fact that some of them are named. Several of the hens were named when they hatched chicks, but we would have no idea who is who if it weren't for their colored leg bands that we use so we know which hens tend toward broody. But, Sam really likes Merv. We aren't sure why other than because he (Sam) thinks Merv is pretty. If Merv knew this, he may volunteer to be put down, who knows. So, for the past while, we've had two roosters to guard and fight over our flock of 28 laying hens.
To complicate things further, a couple months ago, Jamey found a hen dead in the chicken yard. No sign of blood or being pecked to death. No sign of disease either (we've never had trouble with disease at all). So, one unexplained hen death. It comes with the territory.
The chicken yard.
Our asparagus bed is all the way to the right. It's mulched with wood chips and the asparagus crowns are covered with wire- the chickens love scratching around in there. To the far left you can almost make out the edge of our main garden. This is also the orchard which contains a mature pear, a mature sour cherry (the tree that is flowering), four young peach trees and eight young apples.
But, just this past weekend, there was another hen death. This time, the poor girl was sitting up in a hen box, neck stretched out and over into the box next to her. Again, no sign of blood or pecking or disease. This second death smells of murder to me. Whether it was homicide (hen on hen) or manslaughter (I guess I should say chickenslaughter) where the over zealous and often competing roosters showed a willful disregard for life, I don't know.
What I do know is I don't like it. My hens are dying one by one. I would really appreciate some advice here. If you have some chicken/rooster experience and wouldn't mind taking a minute to offer a possibility as to what is going on, I'd sure appreciate it. Could it be these roosters are doing this? If so, their days may be numbered. Pretty or not. Pin It