Do Hens Fight Like Roosters?

Last week, I adopted a hen from a friend and introduced her to my flock. I wasn’t too worried about the introduction until my friend asked, “Do hens fight like roosters?”

I suddenly realized I had no idea how aggressive my hens might be, nor if introducing a single adult hen to an established flock would end in friendship or bloodshed.

I decided to do some research before letting the new chicken loose, and this is what I found.

Do Hens Fight Like Roosters?

Hens do fight, but not as violently as roosters. Although squabbles do break out from time to time, they rarely result in bloodshed, unlike the roosters who’ll fight to the death.

Hens will fight to defend their position in the pecking order, especially when resources are limited. They may fight over food, shelter, dustbaths, nest boxes, roosting space, and water.

Hens also behave aggressively toward new flock members and anyone else who threatens their status. The rooster or alpha hen will usually settle these disputes, but they occasionally escalate into all-out brawls where the loser is left bloodied and beaten.

How Do Hens Fight?

I have first-hand experience of hens fighting because introducing my friend’s hen into my flock didn’t go according to plan!

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The moment she saw the other hens, she marched over to the smallest one, launched herself into the air, and started attacking her with outstretched claws.

Against a soundtrack of anguished squawking, the two hens leaped, scratched, and pecked before falling to the ground.

Terrified that they were going to kill each other, I stepped in – literally. Using my foot, I separated the two hens, only for them to fly at each other once again.

I remembered wondering, “Do hens fight like roosters?” and realized there probably wasn’t much in it.

Hens are surprisingly violent, though not quite as aggressive as roosters. They also lack the razor-sharp spurs that roosters utilize in a fight to the death, so the resulting injuries tend to be less severe – thank goodness!

Why Do Hens Fight With One Another?

My hens often get into squabbles at feeding time, which is normal as this is when the pecking order is reinforced. According to the flock hierarchy, the alpha hen eats first, and the lower-ranking birds must wait until she’s had her fill.

My hens will squawk and peck at one another as they fight over the best spots around the automatic feeder, just as they do in the mornings when I open the coop to let them out.

These “establishment fights” underpin the pecking order. The rest of the time, the lower-ranking hens steer clear of the more dominant flock members, preferring a peaceful life of submission to one of conflict and violence.

5 Top Tips on How To Stop Hens From Fighting

Although hens fight a bit like roosters, it’s a lot easier to get them to stop. Hens aren’t territorial and nor do they fight over mating rights, so if you follow these top tips, you should have a peaceful flock in no time:

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#1 Provide Sufficient Space for Your Flock

Just as I tend to fight for space in an overcrowded train carriage, so my hens are more likely to show aggression when there aren’t enough resources to go around. If they don’t have the space they need to roost, rest, scratch, and forage, they’ll fight each other for more.

Ideally, you should provide each hen with four square feet of coop space and 10 square feet of run space. You also need to give each hen around 10 to 12 inches of roost.

#2 Provide Plenty of Water and Feed Space

If you’ve only got one water source, your lower-ranking hens could end up waiting so long for the more dominant hens to finish that they end up with heat exhaustion.

To reduce competition and conflict between hens, each bird needs around three inches of feeder space and approximately one inch of space at a water trough, but even that may not be enough if you’ve got a particularly dominant and aggressive hen.

In that scenario, you might want to add an extra trough and feeder to the mix so the lower-ranking birds can eat and drink without conflict.

#3 Provide Plenty of Enrichment

An angry hen is often a bored one, and the more you can provide your flock with mental and physical stimulation, the less they’re going to take their frustrations out on each other!

Decorate the coop with treat balls and puzzle feeders. Give your hens ropes to swing on, mirrors to peck at, or even teeter-totters to balance on. The more they have to keep themselves occupied, the more peaceful your life will be!

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#4 Introduce New Hens Slowly

My big mistake was I didn’t give my friend’s hen time to settle in before introducing her to the flock. It was like abandoning a kid on their first day in a new school!

What I should have done was put the new hen in a small enclosure of her own, where she could meet the other flock members while enjoying some element of protection. That way, she could’ve understood the dynamics of the flock and slotted in more easily.

#5 Bring in a Rooster

Roosters aren’t ideal in every situation, but they can help create harmony in a flock full of conflict. Roosters will break up any squabbles between hens and establish their own hierarchy and pecking order. If you’re struggling with an aggressive alpha hen, this could be the best solution.

Parting Thoughts

Hens do fight, but not as violently as roosters. They rarely fight to the death but may pull out feathers and cause minor injuries while trying to work out their differences.

Making sure your hens have easy access to food and water, and plenty of stimulation will help reduce conflicts and create a more harmonious homestead.  

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