Crazy hen attacking me?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Thomolli, Jul 27, 2016.

  1. I have a flock of five hens that I have had since they were 3 days old. They are 18 weeks and nearing laying age. These chickens have been spoiled to the nth degree since they were brought home. Regular handling, treats, nice big clean space to live in, music videos, jungle gym for exercise.

    So, imagine my surprise when my BO hen charged at me and bit me. It startled me because this was the first time anything like this had happened so I jumped backwards. Wrong move! This just made her think I was her [email protected]! She came flapping and flying at me all crazy. I was swinging my arms for protection while making for the coop door and managed to knock her to the ground. I felt badly but she brought it on herself.

    The next time I went into feed them she attacked me again but this time she drew blood on my arm where she bit me and scratched me. This time instead of retreating I stamped my foot in her direction and told her no loudly. Wrong move again! Now, I had challenged her! She came at me like a banshee, I ran like the chicken I am!

    The hubby came with me the next time and when she started in on her attack he picked her up and held her head to her chest for awhile and then let her down. She came right back at him. Again with the holding and head to chest. After three or four times of this she stopped attacking and joined the other girls foraging.

    She was good for several days after that. No problems going into the coop to feed and water. Then yesterday I took them their favorite treat, cold chopped tomatoes and she started up again. I am kind of angry at this point!

    Why in the world would she just start doing this? Is there anything I can do to stop this behavior?

    She is the head of the pecking order if that makes any difference.
     
  2. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    Technically speaking it's possible for a hen to display this behavior. But it's very rare and I've only seen it once. Are you sure she isn't a rooster? Do you have any photos of the bird?
     
  3. This is her. I just took these photos a few minutes ago. [​IMG]

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  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Definitely looks to be a she. I'd suggest that you do some dominance training with her. Take a slender stick with you. When you go in the run, use it to push her out of the way. Your goal is to keep her arm's length away. Make her get out of your way. Chase her around a bit. When you give treats to the rest of the flock, use that stick to keep her away from the treats till you decide she can have some. Never go around her. Where ever she is standing, make her move out of your way, and yield that spot to you. Your husband was on the right track. If you pick her up, push her head down to chest level and hold it there (grab her by the hackle feathers) until she leaves it willingly. Then, after a bit, lower her to the ground while still holding her firmly. She'll struggle just as soon as her feet hit the ground. Hold her, and again push head down to chest till she submits again. Then you can let her go. Every time she demonstrates the least bit of aggression , repeat. You may consider this to be cruel, but IMO it is even more cruel to let her be human aggressive, just as it is not ok to allow a rooster to be human aggressive. Never go into the run unless you are dressed appropriately to deal with her behavior at it's worst: hat, glasses, long pants and sleeves, feet well dressed. You may even need gloves. She may be dealing with raging teen hormomes, and may settle after she starts laying. But, no matter why the behavior, you should deal with it ASAP so it doesn't become a pattern.
     
  5. ChickChalk

    ChickChalk New Egg

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    Wow none of my girls have been this bad, but I have one that is trying to take me on. She is at the same age, very close to laying but not quite ready yet. She puffed herself up once and really came at me. I had on a long dress so I kicked her and pulled the skirt out to "puff" myself up and chased her around a bit giving her little boots in the tush and then let the dog chase her around. She hasn't tried to come at me like that again, but I wear boots in just incase. If she doesn't get lost the moment I come around I chase her away so she doesn't start getting a fat head. She definitely is the queen bee though and picks on the other chickens. If she keeps being so mean she's headed to the soup pot.
     
  6. Thank you Lazy Gardener! I will try all of your suggestions and update as to the progress. I would definitely rather curtail this behavior than have to cull her.

    One more question though...I am allowed one rooster. We didn't get one out of concern for the neighbors. Do you think a rooster might calm her down?
     
  7. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    I'm not Lazy Gardener, but her advice is spot-on, as usual. I'm afraid that sometimes people think that cuddling and loving and spoiling their birds is always the way to have docile lap sitters. It ain't always so.....if they don't see you as head honcho and haven't learned some respect for you from day one, there are times when they challenge your authority. Hen or rooster, this is never a good thing. Now, by "respect" I don't mean fear - every flock has a bird or two that is more skittish than others - but you should always be able to walk around in the coop, run or yard without worrying about a chicken coming after you.

    In my situation, which is admittedly much different than yours, I simply will not allow an aggressive hen or rooster to remain. There is no grey area here - my grandkids help take care of the chickens and my littlest granddaughter, 4 year old Kendra, has Spina Bifida and autism. She doesn't help with the birds, but she loves being out there among them. I will never have a chicken I don't trust 100% and around here they don't get a second chance. I had one aggressive pullet when I first started keeping chickens (@lazy gardener remember Jane the Evil One?) and I let her get by with it longer than I should have. She started exhibiting bad behavior as a chick and a few of the others in the brooder started joining in. After receiving some much needed advice, I changed how I handled the chicks, re-evaluated what I wanted from them, and stopped trying to be their best buddy and began acting like their owner. Jane never did change - and she was delicious. I also had very special rooster, Scout. He was an awesome bird - handsome, did all the things a good rooster does, but on June 4th he got spooked or something and attacked my hand badly enough that still have scars. That was in the morning. By lunch time he was in the refrigerator resting. That was the hardest thing I've had to do since I got chickens. I'd vowed that my kids would never have reason to fear the chickens and had to put my money where my mouth was.

    I don't see how a rooster would help your situation - you may well be exchanging a known set of risks for unknown ones. If you aren't able to get a handle on this particular hen using Lazy Gardener's suggestions, you might end up by adding to the problem with a roo. That said, there are wonderful roosters out there who go about their business and let you go about yours, but I would gently suggest that until you are able to learn how to control and/or prevent aggression you might be better served to focus on her.
     
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  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Blooie, the wise.
     
  9. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    I learned from the best group ever, LG! [​IMG]
     
  10. Thank you Blooie for your response. I certainly don't want any more issues than I have at the moment. We aren't particularly interested in getting a Roo but I read another post that basically said that if she is trying to take the place of the rooster a rooster will put her in her place. So, I was willing to give it a go.
     

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