Can hens be aggressive?


11 Years
Oct 15, 2008
Loomis, California
Hi Everyone! I am a newbie as of today and I am already so impressed by searching various topics and questions to see so much great information here!!

I have a question about one of my three pet hens who are 8 months old. It is the first set of chickens I have ever had and I have been so thrilled about them since raising them from 2 days old along with my two sons. All three of them are free range and love our 2 acre yard to roam in all day. They are all laying eggs (wow they are so yummy!) and have seemed to adjust well. My big question is about my New Hampshire Red whose name is Hannah. She seems to recently have become somewhat aggressive in her posturing and stance and has tried to chase me - while fluffing her feathers/flapping her wings. I have to admit that I have felt afraid of her and a couple of times I just turned and walked away only to find her following me or running after me. I don't have a good feeling about this and I notice that I am not wanting to be outside as much when she is nearby. The others are fine and I have specifically loved how wonderfully friendly my black bantam is - she loves to sit on my lap. I thought maybe it was just me, but Hannah did the same to my husband the other day - approached him and seemed to posture. She has not pecked at me, but I feel fearful that she may and I am sure she senses my fear. In my search it seems like roosters are often mean, but can hens be too? Any suggestions for a newbie to chicken raising on how to handle this and more specifically how to get past my own fear? Is there something I can do to help Hannah change her behavior? Help help please my chicken lover friends!!!

Year of the Rooster

Sebright Savvy
11 Years
Jun 27, 2008
West Central Ohio
First off.....

Are you sure Hannah is a hen? She obviously doesn't crow right? It is possible for a hen to become aggressive. Since you do not have a rooster, she may be taking the place of one by being the dominant hen. Pics would be helpful so that we can make sure.
The only way I can think to help stop her is to show that you are the dominant one. Do not be afraid of her. If she comes toward you, try chasing her back. Do stuff that would make her feel subordinate to you, but will not severely hurt her. Something that I've heard for younger chicks is to hold them until they stop making a fuss, then let them go when they settle down. This is to show that you are the boss.
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12 Years
May 24, 2007
First, as Year of the Rooster asked: Are you sure she's not a Rooster? I'm guessing if you are getting eggs then you know for a fact that she's a hen.

Yes, a hen can be aggressive (not usually with quite as much flair as a Rooster), I've got one hen that thought she could chase me around. I stopped it real quickly by moving directly into her 'charges' and picking her up. I then carried her around for a while, until she completely submitted to me, petting her and just talking to all the chickens while carrying her. After a couple of times of not allowing her to try to peck me (charge me) I've never had her try to mess with me again.

If you are afraid of picking her up (it can certainly be scary and hurt if you get pecked) wear some gloves and long sleeves. Keep her away from your face and don't let her know you are afraid of her.

Good luck - you need to stop this behavior right away.


11 Years
Oct 15, 2008
Loomis, California

Here is a photo of Hannah (she is the New Hampshire Red, not my cute bantam next to her!) I have seen her laying eggs so I really do think she is a true hen, but nonetheless here is the most recent photo to be sure.

Thank you both so much for your reply. I just went outside (after getting my boots on and my long sleeve shirt) and sure enough she came at me. I had planned to reach down and grab her but my immediate reaction instead was to give her a little kick in the breast. This was a light kick but I think enough to let her know she can't charge me. She ran from me. I don't like that it happened that way and I know I need to approach her again and pick her up and walk around with her as suggested. I wish I felt more confident and brave!! AAACK!!!!


◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊
11 Years
Aug 19, 2008
Normally, roosters have this problem. But hens can be aggressive, too. Some are aggressive only when they are sitting on eggs(broody) and they can get mad and peck if you try and steal one! But some breeds, such as the rhode island red(that's one that tends to be bossy, male and female) are usually aggressive. So your hen isn't a rooster most likely. She is just aggressive because of her breed I think. Just carry her around and talk to her, and show her that you are the boss. She won't jump at you like a rooster does, but she will peck and bite to defend herself.
Good luck! And if you plan on trying to get over your fears of her, I would wear long sleeve pants/shirt and maybe some gloves, that way she can't really hurt you by pecking. But don't worry! Just be thankful that she's not a RIR rooster, like we have. He is usually aggressive, but we carried him around a it and he stopped chasing us as much as he did.


In the Brooder
Jul 5, 2017
I have 3 hens who are very aggressive with our other 3 hens. Is this normal? Should I be concerned about our other hens? None of them are aggressive toward humans, we socialize with them quite often. Any advice is appreciated.
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The Chicken Whisperer
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
May 11, 2010
I couldn't get your picture to enlarge to examine your chicken closely. Yes, occasionally you will have a hen assume male characteristics in an all female group. She becomes dominant and bossy toward the flock just like a rooster would. And you will see aggressive behavior toward humans with poultry who think they are just as good as humans. If you have small children, I would place this 'hen' in another flock with full disclosure as to her temperament.

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