Angry, angry Broody!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by krista74, Oct 25, 2014.

  1. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My favourite hen is one of my Buff Orpingtons. She is so beautiful and whilst she has never been a cuddler per se, she does follow me everywhere like a little lamb, and allow me to snuggle with her after she has laid her egg each day. She had a brief dalliance with going broody once before at about 6 months old, but abandoned her nest after only a week. This time though she seemed very dedicated, and whilst she did walk around puffed up like a porcupine, she still didn't mind my baby talk and seemed to like a pat when I went out to the coop.

    Fast forward to today. She is 11 months old and she has hatched out 4 gorgeous fluffy chicks two days ago. I swear, she has gone crazy on me! Obviously I don't go around trying to get hold of her chicks, but I do have to go into her pen and refill the waterer and feeder, and do a little clean up each day so that the chicks are kept in a decent environment.

    Momma does not like my presence one bit. She has the fire of hell in her now, and puffs up when she sees me coming. She huddles all her chicks behind her, drops her head and shoulders down and rushes at me, pecking at my boots or my legs. I have to be super fast to pick up her food bowls or she'll peck at my hands too.

    Today she got herself so stressed while I was in there, that one of her chicks slipped by her and out the open fence as I was cleaning. I picked it up, and was trying to place it back in the cage in front of her, but she got so worked up that she accidentally pecked the chick!

    This is chaos! Will she settle down in time? Is there anything I can do to make it better? I really try and get in and out as fast as possible, but neither of my other two broody hens were ever this aggressive with me after they had their chicks. Please don't tell me my beautiful BO needs to visit the soup pot! I know maternal feelings can be strong but I just don't know what has come over her!

    Krista
     
  2. mtngirl35

    mtngirl35 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    In my opinion a momma hen that won't protect her chicks would hit the stewpot before an overprotective momma hen would. Does she get stressed when you are outside the pen? If not you could hang out in the area and see if she will get used to your presence around the chicks. I know my momma hen would start squawking and pecking if one of my other hens so much as looked at her chicks for about 3 weeks. Hopefully she will calm down soon.
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I have numerous hens raise chicks each year. They have the capacity to fly up into your face and chase you across the yard. I do not pet them when they are broody as that is not liked. When they attack as you describe I temporarly stop and look away. Attack may persist briefly but does break off with hen going back to chicks. Do not recoil or retreat. Doing that a few times will usually settle such a hen down.


    My male dog that serves as lead poultry guardian has an elaborate display that seems to get a hen to break off quickly. When attacked he goes into slow motion and arches his head and neck away from attacking hen. Hens seem to need either a face or movement to attack. He removes both from hens mindset.
     
  4. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    To be honest, she gets stressed before I even get into the coop! She hears me coming, and when I open the gate to the run in the morning I can hear her 'bok-bok-boking' before I've even got to the coop door! She is a dear little thing normally, and I do know she is only doing what her hormones are telling her to do.

    I think I will do what you suggest - just go in there, sit quietly, and chat to her each day. Surely she will calm down eventually when she realises I mean no harm. Poor fluffy girl! Here is a pic so you can see her and her babies. She is hiding in her nest - to get away from me, lol. Mind you, I was on the other ide of the fence! She was madly calling to her four babies in this picture, to get them to come and snuggle with her.


    [​IMG]

    Krista
     
  5. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Great advice, thank you! She really is a force to be reckoned with! I will try and be calm and collected when I tend to her, and not back away. She doesn't hurt when she pecks really, but if she flies in my face I can imagine that wouldn't tickle!

    Krista
     
  6. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer

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    Yep mama hens are hell on wings when protecting their chicks. That's how nature designed them. Remember you are a predator and she perceives you as a serious threat to her babies. Don't take her behavior to heart. She's a mom and her babies are the most important thing to her. The not moving trick does work well. You can also find her 'point of anger' and proceed from there. Find the area where she starts reacting when you approach and back off. Once you learn where her safety net is, set your self in a chair and observe her. She may or may not tolerate your presence but in a few weeks she will return to normal. Remember, you have the option of not allowing her to raise chicks.

    My FIL had a neat trick. He bred game birds and some of those hens were ultra aggressive when protecting their brood. OMG, those girls were heroic in their desire to protect their brood. He used a large piece of plywood with a handle to use as a shield when he entered the pen to change out food and water. Years later I saw the same thing in a zoo when keepers dealt with 'sensitive' avian species.
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Krista, most of my birds are gamefowl with the capacities described above. Most have been through upbringing and a little handling expertise conditioned to be very docile to the point where my very small children can ply the cockyard without being attacked. Getting hens to that point starts at hatch. Chicks learn from mother and you what kind of threat you can be. With current hen try feeding chicks by hand something like mealworms. Allow hen to take such items from your hand for presentation to chicks. This will also serve to calm hen. Shortly thereafter chicks will get items directly from you and continue into adulthood if repeated periodically. When the female offspring become broody themselves they may be cranky at first but your starting point will be much less violent / aggressive. I have several hens to point where they bring chicks up onto my lap and same hens with their broods can be taken to school or other public places where they can interact with people including children that have never been around poultry prior. Hens and chicks will approach total strangers for eats and no flogging occurs. Even fluffing up is minimal. Every bird I set out to work with in this manner does as needed even though untreated full siblings can be psychotic face floggers so changes are not genetic. Such birds will still attack other threats with a vengeance.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I was also thinking to suggest offering treats in hand......after a calm demeanor, food is the quickest way to their 'hearts'.
    Meeting the aggression with calm and deliberate tenacity should get you back to 'top hen' status with her.

    Am curious, is she in with the flock or in a separate enclosure?
     
  9. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    Determined broody hens are just that....determined! Actually she is a very good mother, is very protective of her young, and her behavior towards you (or anyone for that matter) is actually quite normal. You need to give her her "space" .. leave her and the babies alone as much as possible. After about 5-6 weeks she will more than likely leave them to their own devices. Don't be alarmed if she actually pecks at them telling them "it's time for you to be on your own...off you go!" at that age. Many flock keepers would give their eye teeth to have such a determined broody in their flock! I wish you all the best! [​IMG]
     
  10. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    She has a corner of the main coop fenced off. Actually, we have HALF the main coop fenced off at the moment, and that half is divided into two quarters. In one quarter is this Momma hen with her four (3 day old) chicks. In the other quarter is ANOTHER Momma hen with her four (3 week old) chicks. The rest of the flock is in the remaining half of the coop! Everyone can see each other though, the fencing is all wire, but about a metre and a half high so as to provide protection.

    The Momma with the 3 week old chicks does come out into the main coop in the afternoon with her chicks. Sometimes the other hens pop in and out during the day, so it's a sort of 'early introduction' to the flock for the chicks. I am hesitant to let her take the chicks outside yet as I have a cat with a hunting fetish, and those chicks are not even feathered out yet! The Momma with the 3 days old chicks though, she does not come out of the pen yet. She is just too easily flustered. When her chicks get to 3 weeks old I will let them into the main part of the coop to play with the bigger chicks and become socialised.

    Krista
     

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