behavior questions


In the Brooder
8 Years
Jun 14, 2011
My chickens are about 12 weeks old and are starting to get pretty big. I have 3 plymouth rock hens, 1 plymouth rock rooster, and 1 blue cochin hen. The blue cochin is at the bottom of the pecking order I think because whenever I go to feed them treats, the roo or the other hens will push her out of the way and she doesn't get much. I have been finding feathers scattered around the coop, is that from them loosing there feathers or is that part of the pecking order from them pecking the feathers off? Also, yesterday I took the blue cochin out of the coop and put her in the yard so that she could eat some grass since there is no grass in the coop. When I put her down, I think she felt lost since she was alone and she just walked around and clucked and didn't really eat any grass. But then she started squatting real quickly, and I read somewhere that chickens squat before they start to lay. Is it possible that she might be laying soon being only 3 months old? I think she was just squatting because she was about to try to fly, but I'm not sure. Thanks!
mine were laying that early to be honest, the eggs were rather small but eventually got smaller. they can do the squat for weeks prior to the first egg. chickens like being with their flock, taking her out on her own without her flock likely scared her, even if she is at the bottom of the pecking order she still feels safety in numbers and her flock are her family. so she was likely confused. I also found that my hens tend to cluck for each other and to let one another what they found.

Also bottom of the pecking order hens being shown favoritism by removing her from the flock can be more detrimental for her if she is being picked on, that is why it is recommended to remove the bully for a day or so to balance things out. Or to carry the bully around to let her know someone else (you in this instance) is the alpha not her.

as for the feathers, if they are being picked off you will see bits of blood on the chickens where ever feathers are missing. frankly the lose feathers all the time, you should see my yard, feathers every where, lol. I just mulch them into the ground in the fall :)

Yes, as they grow, their smaller feathers are constantly being replaced by larger feathers...could you imagine a six-week-old chick with grown chicken size feathers?

Ema is right, they are flock animals and don't like to be alone. I've found it difficult when nursing a sick one, because they get depressed being alone. If it's possible to keep a buddy with a sick or isolated hen, it helps a lot. If you want to let your cochin out to graze, bring another hen with her, maybe one that doesn't pick on her so much.

Cochins are very sweet birds and as such tend to be low in the pecking order (like with people - the nice ones often get stepped on by ones that don't mind doing the stepping...) Cochins are also a slow maturing breed, so at three months it's not likely that she is close to laying - have her comb and wattles gotten large and red yet? In general, I wouldn't expect a cochin to start laying until six months.

Good luck with your girls.
I don't think your cochin is close to laying at that age. As for the feather loss, they are at the age that they go through a juvenile molt. It's totally normal, no need to worry about the feathers.

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