Aggresive hen

Discussion in 'What Breed Or Gender is This?' started by shell3, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. shell3

    shell3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi guys I have 5 RIR hens, 3 are just under 2 yrs old and the other 2 are about a yr old.
    one of the older hens has become very aggressive lately, I firstly put it down to her seeing less of me during the winter because they are mainly in a large run during the winter and summer they are free in the garden more and come up to the house.
    I noticed a few month back that she started growing spurs, they arnt massive but the other girls don't have them.
    ive found her in the nest box on 3 occasions recently when ive gone to lock them in for bed and ive lifted her up to the roost.
    she started to peck at me a few months back but I thought she was just a bit cheeky, now she stands up straight, puffs out her feathers and bites really as hard as she can! she will sometimes run straight for me when I open the door of a morning too.
    its so sad because she is a lovely girl really and im worried that this could be a health issue rather than a temperament thing.
    the other girls are all still friendly and we don't have a rooster.
    any advice or suggestions will be greatfully received I suspect she has stopped laying or at least is no longer regular.
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    It sounds like she is the lead hen and taking the role of the cockerel. So it becomes her "job" to protect the flock from you, and to try to be dominant over you. If it gets too out of hand, you can remove her, out of sight and hearign of the others, for a week or so. When returned, she will essentially be a stranger and thus at the bottom of the pecking order.

    As far as I know. the presence of spurs on a hen really has no significance -- but then, maybe it gives her some advantage over the others, makes her more likely to be the lead hen. Interesting question, actually.
     
  3. ChickenWisperer

    ChickenWisperer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 30, 2008
    KY
    She's taking on the role of Alpha - without a dominant male, not Alpha hen but Alpha roo. Some hens take this farther than others, and a hen doesn't even need to be dominant to grow spurs. Some just do.

    RIR are an overtly aggressive breed and it's no surprise to me that you're having a problem with it. Honestly? I'd cull. Immediately. This is a temperament issue and not a health problem, and I don't have room in my coop - or wallet - for aggressive birds.
     
  4. shell3

    shell3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for replying guys, I hope it is a behaviour issue rather than a health one. I've noticed she isn't holding up her wings, they are kind of low and shes loosing feathers too but she only recently molted. Are these connected with the behaviour or does this change things?
    I would never kill any of my animals and besides she isnt aggressive to the other chickens the dog or cats, just me it seems.
    She really bites me ! Yesterday I picked her up for a cuddle and she calmed down but then bit me again after I put her down. Should I try to spend more time carrying her around?
     
  5. spikennipper

    spikennipper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Are you sure she hasn't gone broody? they say RIR are unlikely to go broody but I had an older RIR that went broody fairly regularly, quite annoying really as I wanted eggs and my others kept doing it too lol! give her an egg and see what she does, if she immediately shoves it under her and sits she is broody.
     
  6. shell3

    shell3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi I gave her an egg and she ignored it, I also left the eggs in the nest box but she hasn't been in it at all so I don't think thats it. But glad to rule thing out so thank you for that.
    She let me feed her from my hand yesterday tiny bits of lettuce and then late last night when I locked the coop she let me pick her up and cuddle her but I made the mistake of stroking her back this morning while she was eating her appleand she stood up really straight charged at me and bit my hand so I thought id poke her in the chest to tell her to back off and she bit again drawing blood this time! Whats the advice on this? Do I stick my ground and pick her up tell her off when she does this or should I just leave her be?
     
  7. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    You just need to handle her like an aggressive roo. This means letting her know that you are the lead roo, not her. Back her down by walking toward her, carry her around under your arm like a football for several minutes, etc. There are lots of methods and lots of threads and articles here on the subject. Of course, it's best to keep her away from small children -- and earrings, painted toenails etc.

    Here is a good article:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/dealing-with-roosters-roo-behavior

    Just to be clear, I agree that RIR or other hatchery "reds" such as production reds tend to have aggressive personalities --- and nearly all mine have. But a true RIR from a good breeder who is endeavoring to meet the APA standard for the breed will have a very different bird: mellow and friendly, not to mention a bery different, darer color and different body type.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2014
  8. Bogtown Chick

    Bogtown Chick Overrun With Chickens

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    My Coop
    I would work the territorial approach, Shell. As you would with a rooster. When you bring food...kick her out of the run while the others eat. You sit there with them and hold the bowl or whatever to show that you are now the protector, the food finder, food presenter, etc. and the run is your territory. Let her in after everybody has eaten. If she comes after you again then push her out into the garden and sit with the rest again...showing her it's your territory. so on and so forth. It may take a while it may take one day. It's up to Angel really. Show her you are the Alpha of the coop and the run and she is "under" you in the pecking order.

    Precious, funny chooks. I like the dominant cuddle approach as well. [​IMG] Even though she's being a brat. [​IMG]
     
  9. shell3

    shell3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just a little quick update, I took the cuddle her approach! Lol and I'm having no more problems, everyday I let the flock out and ignore her completely, if she gives a little peck I immediately pick her up and carry her to the garden,give her a cuddle and the let her down. This has worked and although I still get the odd peck, they are not nearly so hard or aggressive and she now crouches when I go to pick her up again instead of charging for me! I've found any hesitation to pick her up makes her more nervous and thus more aggressive . Confidence is key! But a happy outcome :)
     
  10. chacha123

    chacha123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Good news! This was a very interesting thread :)
     

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