A bad flock?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by lady481, Feb 19, 2015.

  1. lady481

    lady481 Hatching

    Feb 19, 2015
    Hi! Long time lurker, first time poster.

    We got 3 chicks (Australorp, Light Brahma and Ameraucana) in March of 2013. On the ride home from the feed store I said "Geez, this little Brahma is sort of a jerk." We kept all 3 girls and raised them inside for weeks, handled them regularly, treated them like members of our family, etc. But Ruby (the Brahma) was always just.. not nice. In the very first picture we took of her, we tagged her as "mean chick that needs some socializing". She'd run away and scream when we tried to pick her up and it's always felt like she's turned Ginger and Mae against us (which sounds crazy as I type it, but seriously).

    In late November 2013 we finally got our first egg and it seemed like all 3 were laying regularly by February. Last summer Ruby went broody twice (and was super mean the first time) and went through a molt. She hasn't laid since and is definitely eating any eggs we are getting from the other two. We try to get out there ASAP, but she's the leader of the flock and she's just getting to them as soon as they're laid.

    At this point, Ginger (Ameraucana) is the only one that isn't terrified of us, but she certainly doesn't like us. It's so disappointing because I feel like we did everything right. They got pellets with oyster shell mixed in. I got them BOSS. I made them warm oats and treats in the cold weather. They were free range in our backyard and helped themselves to my new plants and garden. But they still run from us. I honestly feel like they like our pit bull more than they like us. [​IMG]

    So, I guess I just want to know, has anyone just ended up with a bad flock? My husband has raised chickens several times before and says they're just bad doers and we didn't do anything wrong, but I really want them to like us. I don't even care that we never get eggs anymore, but I see all these pictures of people holding their birds and I'm so disappointed in our little flock. Any advice? Should we cull Ruby and see if the other two come around (my husband's plan)?

  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I have had quite a variety of chickens and they can run from you even though you try to pick them up a lot, no doubt. It is a personality thing, and it just so happens that your girls are a bit flighty it sounds.

    You can try to win them over with treats but if they are flighty then there isn't much you can do if treats don't work (and frequent handling). This has been my experience anyways, but there are many people who may have differing experiences.

    I don't even pick my birds up much at all. I handle them in order to inspect them of course but not to hug them very often. I have had cuddly birds and very clingy birds, and I prefer the ones who aren't clingy, myself.

    Now the egg eating, I would not tolerate. Some people swear by filling eggs with mustard and others say they LOVE the mustard LOL. Do you have fake eggs in the nest box (or golf balls)? Fake eggs are important because they don't give gratification when pecked.

    Also your nest boxes should be very dark. Curtains, etc.- somehow make them darkened so she doesn't see the egg as well.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2015
    1 person likes this.
  3. song of joy

    song of joy Crowing

    Apr 22, 2012
    Central Pennsylvania
    Based on your description, it doesn't really sound like a bad flock. I think a lot of this is the personality of the hens. I've found that no matter how much I handle the chicks when they're little, I'm usually lucky to get 1 out of 6-8 hens who is genuinely friendly and docile enough to let me pick her up and hold her when she's an adult. It also seems like their friendliness dissipates somewhat after the 1st year or 2, as they become increasingly independent. I've never experienced or quite understood the whole "lap chicken" thing, as birds are just not wired the same way dogs and cats are.

    Now the running away part is something that would bother me. My girls don't like to be picked up, but they do come running when I call, as they associate my call with treats. You may want to limit treats to only those that they get when they come to you and eat out of your hand. Over time, they will probably come running whenever you call them.

    Egg eating is not easily fixed, so my solution is to cull the offender, but that's a matter of personal preference.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2015
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Not chicken cuddler either......that's why I have a dog, he likes to be petted.
    Most my chickens do not want to be touched, if I need to check them out I'll grab them off the roost at night.

    I've found the friendliest chick now hates to be touched....and the ones that squawked the loudest while being handled as chicks now walk up right up to me every morning and want to be picked up.

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