Biting behavior

Jaxdrisc

Songster
5 Years
Apr 14, 2014
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My Coop
Hi All!
I have a 7 month old Speckled Sussex that I raised from a chick. I have always handled her (and her brooder mate) regularly, as I do ALL of my hens. However, lately, life has gotten insane (think Merrimack Valley Gas Explosion insane..and 62 days without gas) and I haven't handled her as much. I'd say she is a bit feral now. The last 2 days, when I have picked her up, she has been biting, not pecking. At first I thought it was my nail polish, but she has always been exposed to that. I "bite" back, as I do NOT allow that behavior in my flock. My question: why the sudden change? She is bottom hen, and does have some peck cuts on her comb, hence my handling her..to treat her. I am working on retraining her to my hands, but she just goes right at my hand if given the opportunity. My coop is waist high, and when I am working in there, she was trying to jump at my face...also new and another behavior I don't allow. Thoughts? Suggestions? Thanks so much for any input!!
 

Melky

Spring has sprung!
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Jul 23, 2018
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The jumping at the face is because I’m guessing you are bent low near the opening and she is feeling pent up and just wants out. Mine rarely jump at me in excitement and it is one of two things wants to jump in window to come out or wants food I’m bringing in first thing in morning. I put food in a feeder to the left first and then fill feeder in front so they go away from me first. As far as biting. I have been pecked a few times but I would not call it biting. I have learned to not induce that response. If one pecks me. I gently put finger down on beak. Gets a no no, then I nudge the bird back a little to back of girls. If I give them enough free time in yard, I typically don’t see those behaviors.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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Nov 27, 2012
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They do go thru demeanor changes.
Likely the combo of you not being around as much and her being low bird in a winter coop(are they spending as much time outside as usual?) has got her on the defense.
Peck her back and maybe the nest step, hold her down......

I peck them back, on the head or anywhere I can reach, with the tips of thumb and first 2 fingers, as hard and fast as many times as I can before they get away. Well, not hard enough to hurt them, just startle them and let them you mean business. That's what another chicken would do, so they understand that kind of communication.

If that doesn't work after a couple applications, I hold them down to the ground with my hand on their back until they submit....again firmly enough to get the job done but not hurt them....add a few finger pecks and/or tug on the feathers on the back of their neck.
 

Melky

Spring has sprung!
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Jul 23, 2018
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Oh I forget to mention I have a Speckled Sussex as well. They are highly communicative birds and first to greet you at the door or in the yard. Very social. Mine come up to me and are used to being handled and cuddled a bit. I also don’t wear red or shiny things that would attract them. I use positive reinforcement only as an eye for an eye attitude breeds hostility.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
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as an eye for an eye attitude breeds hostility
Nah.....depends on how it's doled out.
Have had several nasty biting pullets, a good 'peck' on the head has always worked,
except for the one who needed holding down, then it was over and she never did it again.
OTOH, familiarity can breed contempt with domineering livestock.
 

chickens really

Crazy Mother of Goats
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5 Years
Sep 8, 2015
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Different thread topic maybe, but good point by @roosterhavoc for others who may read this.....
Fine I hate this but it's pretty easy if your Birds start looking like heck..Also I do a deep clean twice a year and dust my Coop with dusting power on the Roosts and around the edges..
 
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