Behavior of "Spent Hens" I have taken in????

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by manydogs, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. manydogs

    manydogs Hatching

    Aug 12, 2011
    I added to my flock about a month ago. Added 6 "spent hens" from an "organic" egg farm. These hens are just a year old, and since they've been on my farm, they lay an egg just about every day.... even with it being December (no extra lights in use).

    At first, they really didn't know how to act with their freedom. I let them free-range during the day. First few days, I'd often find them fighting amongst themselves, but now they all get along.

    One of the behaviors that I have noticed with these hens is something that I've never seen before in all of my other chickens. (I've had RRR, Bared Rocks, and Buff Orps). These "spent hens" are the Bovan Brown breed. The behavior can be described as a squat position they quickly assume when being approached. Wings spread, they crouch, and do a little too-and-fro step on their feet - in place. It's almost like a fear reaction. I've never seen this in any of my other birds! They all do it. They don't flee when I reach to pick them up, but take this almost "frozen in place" position. WEIRD!!!!

    Has anyone else observed this type of behavior?
  2. BlazeJester

    BlazeJester Songster

    Aug 2, 2011
    Midway, GA
    Have you had roosters with your previous flocks?

    This is squatting, which is a submissive sexual behavior hens exhibit when they are "receptive" to a rooster... or, if you lack a rooster, the person who takes care of them. All of mine have done this and I actually had one of my 17-wk olds just squat for the first time! EGGS SOON! Yippee!!!!
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Quote:Ditto [​IMG]
  4. aoxa

    aoxa Crowing

    Wow! Your others don't do this?

    What good new chickens! It's submissive. A wonderful behaviour. Grab their tail a few times and pat them on the back. You will make them worship you [​IMG]

  5. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    That is known as The Squat - it is a submissive behavior and is based in readying themselves to be mounted by a rooster.

    When any of my hens or pullets squat for me, I give 'em a little skritch between their shoulder blades, another little skritch at the base of their tail feathers, then a gentle pat on the middle of their backs. (I also tell 'em "Good girl!")

    They will stand up and shake all their feathers - getting rid of that tell-tale "bed feathers" look. [​IMG] - and toodle on their merry little ways.
    (The shake is really the instinctive response to being mounted and moves the rooster's sperm up into their bodies. I like the bed feathers concept a bit better...)

    So, basically, it's normal behavior. As you've noticed, not all hens squat for people... So if you've never seen it, you wouldn't know what it meant.

    Be honored they are squatting for you!
  6. BlazeJester

    BlazeJester Songster

    Aug 2, 2011
    Midway, GA
    I'll also note that with my barred rocks, squatting had a lot to do with their rank in the pecking order. My alpha females wouldn't squat at all and the lowest-ranking girls ran up for "back scratches" whenever I approached. I could see how with a very small flock (~3 or so) they might not be inclined to squat.
  7. aoxa

    aoxa Crowing

    Quote:Never thought of this. My head hen, Denny (Delaware) never squats. My BR (second in command) squats all the time. My most flighty girl (SS hamburg x polish) squats the most. When I was able to actually pick her up, I knew she was ready to lay [​IMG]

    Are spent hens not hens that have stopped laying? Why would they call them spent hens if they were still laying on a daily basis and a year old? [​IMG]
  8. kari_dawn

    kari_dawn Songster

    Nov 2, 2009
    North Texas
    thats kinda what I was wondering too. I thought most hens had a drop in egg production at two years? Oh well, lucky you!
  9. BlazeJester

    BlazeJester Songster

    Aug 2, 2011
    Midway, GA
    After their first full year my hens molted (~1.5yrs by fall) and it took months to start laying again. I could understand commercial egg facilities not wanting to deal with the molt OR the month(s) of "useless".

    Where does one acquire "spent hens", on that note?
  10. zazouse

    zazouse Crowing

    Sep 7, 2009
    Southeast texas
    Congratulations you are now their rooster [​IMG]

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