Don't bit the hand that feeds you

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sj3364, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. sj3364

    sj3364 Songster

    Apr 21, 2011
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Someone forgot to tell my RIR pullet this.

    I normally hand feed my 3 chicks some treats a few times a day. They are 10 weeks old. My 2 BOs are good girls and politely peck the treats from my hand. My RIR will peck really hard and then bit my palm or my fingers. I started out giving her a little poke with my hand each time she did this. Now she looks for this coming and peck, bite, jump back. So I started making a verbal correction but this scares all the birds. So now if she bites me I just move my hand away from her and not let her eat from my hand anymore. She doesn't like this and tries to get to my hand and pushes the other birds away. And it doesn't seem to be working. I got so mad at her this morning I stalked her into a corner. Of course I effectively freaked out the other girls because they always stick together.

    Any suggestions? Just continue to not hand feed her when she shows aggression?


  2. VelvettFog

    VelvettFog Songster

    Apr 7, 2011
    Yakima, WA
    Quote:I have a hen that does this exact thing. I have had good luck doing two things that imitate what a Rooster would do to correct a 'bad girl'. I put a hand on her back and push her to the ground - into a sitting type of position. I hold her there until she calms down. Then I will slowly start to let up my hand, should she get excited again, I increase the pressure. After a few tries, she will calm down quite a bit and sit there like a good girl. Then I let her feed from my hand again. The other thing I will do is pull on the feathers on the back of her neck. That gets her attention too.
  3. scratch'n'peck

    scratch'n'peck Crowing

    Oct 31, 2008
    West Michigan
    My Coop
    Hello again from the Grand Rapids area.

    It does sound like she is taking the alpha hen position. I have tried pushing down on the back and gently pinching the back of the neck with one of my roosters like the poster above suggested and it does help.

    Even some of my really nice hens get so excited about treats that they accidentally peck my hand. I have experimented with how I hold the treats or I choose treats that are easier for them to get like greens or pieces or wheat bread that extend well beyond my fingers. I have also found that they are less likely to nip my fingers if I hold the treat above their heads and then they hop up to get it. Although they may all try to hop for the same treat at once.

    Your RIR may always be sort of bossy toward the other hens but hopefully you can get her to act respectfully toward you.

    (BTW, I finally did the Equest orientation, so maybe I will see you around the horse barn. - Jill)
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2011
  4. sj3364

    sj3364 Songster

    Apr 21, 2011
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Thanks for the suggestions. I'll give it a try.

    I have seen her try to boss the other girls around by jumping on their backs or trying to displace them on the roost so I'm sure the alpha hen idea is correct. I'm not really concerned with the accidental nip while hand feeding. It's that her behavior is obviously purposeful and aggressive. That won't stand.

    @Jill - That's awesome. I'm there every Monday night.

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