Dangerous chickens?!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Gisselle, Aug 19, 2018.

  1. Gisselle

    Gisselle In the Brooder

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    So, our story started with bringing home 4 baby chicks of various breeds this past spring as egg layers and fun yard pets. When those chicks were half grown we also obtained 3 day old silkie chicks.

    Long story short, during this past spring we had a family of FOUR big hawks that terrorized our chickens and weren’t afraid of us really. It was getting too stressful anytime I was out in the yard to -constantly- be shooting away hawks flying low or perching in the yard. Their territory was our property :(

    • During this time one of our Orpington hens completely disappeared and we could never find her. She was gone for 3 entire months
    • We presumed a hawk finally got her and it was so sad - we rehomed the other hens and just kept the 3 silkies since they could tolerate confinement safely in a pen.
    when suddenly my next door neighbor found her in her yard - (after no sign for 3 months!) perfectly healthy and unhurt!

    So now “Helen” the Orpington, is mixed with our flock of silkies and we love her! (Looking like the odd one out too!) The pecking order is still kinda off. It’s been probably a month since we got Helen back, she started laying the day after we got her back. She fought with the silkies a little but they tolerate each other and kept to themselves mostly now. She BEATS up our silkie rooster if he tries to mate or otherwise charges her.

    * I mention all this because I wonder if it might hold a clue to -why- my one silkie hen who use to be the sweetest, calmest one out of the three suddenly will aggressively peck your hand if you want to pet her and she will peck your feet too if they get too close. The worst part is the behavior is unpredictable. Sometimes she will be in a “mood” and other times she’ll be docile. She is not broody and no silkie is laying right now - my roo is crowing and just super high strung. He will also peck your hand viciously if you try to pet him or pick him up. I’ve had roosters before of other standard large breeds and I know how dangerous they can be and how much it hurts to get attacked and I hope he doesn’t turn into a mean rooster -

    My daughter who is almost 2 LOVES to pick up the silkies. She only picks up the ‘sometimes’ docile hen named ‘Soot’ - and I assure you - she is very careful and gentle and I supervise her. But lately Soot has pecked my daughter hard on the hand and hurt her feelings and made her cry.... and today one of them pecked her and left a mark on her face!! If you are reaching for one of the hens while the rooster is standing with the group he will freak out and peck at you thinking you are trying to get him.

    • Soot also pecks my husband and me! Not in a “oops I thought you had a treat” either - I know the difference.

    Why are my silkies getting mean?? They have NOT been mistreated or teased as I NEVER allow that with these birds.

    As far as the rooster “Snow”.. I’ve heard of the picking them up to show whose boss. But how do you do that when he’s naturally flighty and doesn’t let you pick him up? He’s been that way since he was a chick.

    My Orpington “Helen” is sweeter and more predictable than these silkies. She never shows any aggression to us... she even lets my daughter pick her up even though she is soo big!

    Our chickens range in our entire fenced backyard and have lush wild grass, shade and plenty of space to get away from each other

    Please let me know your thoughts....
     
  2. I am so grateful you daughter did not get pecked in the eye!
    You must always be careful of your small children around animals, you todler may think of them like stuffed amimals, soft and cuddly, but that is not always the case.
    Cats can scratch, dogs can bite and chickens can peck and scratch. A rooster with spurs can do worse.
    Your silkies are just birds, and they are normal.
    Teach your daughter some animals are look but do not touch.
    The orphington may be the best candidate for pet.
     
  3. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

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    I'm also glad that your toddler wasn't really injured! It's certainly safer to watch the birds, and not try to make them into cuddly toys. Have her NOT try to hold any of them instead.
    Your Silkies are just maturing, and may not respect your space at all. you are the giant who brings food, not a flock member, not to be managed by any of them! Especially because you have a small child, regroup, and encourage these birds to move out of your way rather than hand feeding them and letting them climb all over you.
    No bird gets close to my face!!!
    Mary
     
  4. Gisselle

    Gisselle In the Brooder

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    Thank you all for your comments. Please keep them coming!
    I’m just wondering too if anybody else has had experience like this with a ‘gentle docile breed’ like silkies...

    It makes me feel absolutely sick inside to think if they had pecked my daughter in the eye. She mimics what I do with the chickens, which is how she learned how to gently pick them up and hold them and she even tries to ‘sweet talk’ them. And it will be nearly impossible to break her from trying to pick up Soot after all this time the silkie has been tolerant and so sweet - suddenly is being unpredictable and aggressive. Even if she is ignoring them and they are choosing to be around her.
    Heck - my daughter was reaching for a little rock on the ground cause she likes to collect them and Soot was standing nearby and charged her hand and bit aggressively! And I was standing right behind my girl watching them all.
    That means I can never turn my back for a second because that’s all it takes for them to have a mood swing and my daughter to merely be minding her own business in the same territory.

    I do not want to be swatting at or otherwise having to ‘punish’ my chickens all day - they were suppose to be little pets and I would hate to break their trust.
    I had chickens when I was young - I hand fed them and spent time with them like my daughter does but I never had an aggressive hen - then again, I never had silkies. Just the standard breeds...
     
    PrettyChickens15 likes this.
  5. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

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    Soot needs to move on elsewhere! It's not worth your daughter's safety to have her around. Yes, you can readjust her behavior TOWARDS YOU, but your child can't, and won't be capable for years.
    It's good that your cockerel runs away! Much better than having him become an attack bird, who also would need to go ASAP.
    Mary
     
    DobieLover and bobbi-j like this.
  6. " they were suposed to be little pets"
    I dont think there is anything wrong with your chickens, they are just chickens.
    What i think is wrong is your expactition of yhat they should be,
    In my flock of a dozen birds, i have one that tollerates being picked up right now.
    In my past 100 birds i have had one who actually prefered to be handled and would try to fly up on me to be held. I think she was a rare one.
    Every chicken has their own personality and temperment.
    Get chickens because you like chickens.if you want cuddly pets, maybe bunnies would be better.
     
  7. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

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    And then carefully select your bunnies, because not all of them are nice either!
    Mary
     
    coach723, KikiLeigh02 and snow5164 like this.
  8. Gisselle

    Gisselle In the Brooder

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    I really appreciate your input and never thought about how trying to readjust her behavior towards my daughter would be nearly impossible. :(
    I’m hoping it’s just a phase or maybe because she is the lowest ranking and most timid in the flock. Just this morning I was out alone with the chickens and they were all coming up to me. I lightly pet my Orpington and my gray silkie hen who didn’t mind at all but I tried to stroke Soot in the same manner and I got pecks and she was the only one who pecked my foot when I was coming through the gate.

    Well I do like chickens! I have had chickens when I was young of many breeds... I’ve never had this breed and these two oddball silkies who are aggressive (the black silkie hen and white Roo) could easily make life miserable. Like keeping a dog around that will nip and bite unpredictability. Because these silkies have to be handled so often because they won’t go to the roost in their actual coop - we are forced to handle them and of course get pecked in the process ourselves!
     
  9. snow5164

    snow5164 Crowing

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    I’ve had silkie for a few years, there are children at my place often .

    In my opinion, your children need to not be picking up the birds. I know you think she’s doing it correctly but if you really watch no child’s small hands can gently pick up and hold a chick or puppy .theres squeezing and uncomfortable looks from the animal.

    That being said my hens are confined as you said yours are? So how are they darting around getting your daughter?

    They are a docile breed but you need to pick them up and let your daughter feed them treats so they see her as a friend .

    I pick up my birds and then hand them to the child, your daughters too young

    Rabbits are worse , the bite and can scratch like crazy ,no animal enjoys being held awkwardly

    I can’t think of a good pet that would enjoy being carried around by a child , we got a dog when our girls were old enough to handle them properly... 6 and 8
     
    JanetMarie likes this.
  10. Gisselle

    Gisselle In the Brooder

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    Lol! Exactly! :)
    What a disappointment that everything was fine with my birds until just recently....
     

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