Friendly or Feisty?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by forbzilla, Dec 9, 2013.

  1. forbzilla

    forbzilla New Egg

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    Dec 9, 2013
    Spokane Washington
    I have a new congregation of hens: six pullets of six months, three Buff Orpingtons and three Silver Wyndottes, mixed with two Black Australorp two year old hens who used to be the ring leaders of every group they were in. Friendly, active, foraging machines. But one of them was unexpectedly moulting and the weather has been sub zero just at the move, so a lot of time in the coop with new, large and young neighbors.

    Here is the question. Naked black hen found the most comfortable spot was in one of the sheltered nesting boxes--all is sheltered, but I imagine it was warmer there. Her fully feathered friend is off foraging with the other younger girls, but one BO who is a pick up chicken by nature keeps jumping in and rooting little naked black hen out of every place she goes. BO does not peck her or attack her, but it still amounts to harassment of ailing bird. I put Naked Autralorp in a small dog crate with separate food/water in coop and am hoping once she gains strength to reunite them.
    Questions: What was that behavior? And how best to handle time out of separation.
    Thank you for any help offered. (And I know the timing was bad, but sometimes it is what it is--you got to move and it is -10 and the thing molts. . . )
     
  2. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Overrun With Chickens

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    Your bird is just being "feisty". She is more dominant than the black hen, and is making sure that she asserts herself. I have a Wyandotte pullet that acts like this often. Whenever a bird walks by and she's in a bad mood, or if a bird takes her roosting spot, or eats from her feeder while she's there, or acts silly in some way, the pullet glares at the bird and pecks/chases it away. In particular, molting birds tend to be picked on. Once your Naked Australorp regains her feathers, she'll be picked on less, but probably won't be completely free of harassment (some birds just like picking on other chickens, even when the other chicken knows that it isn't dominant).
     
  3. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    Is the orp who was rooting the black out of the nest boxes laying? Chickens like to lay where other ones have laid and will often try to push other hens out of the boxes (if she has it, it must be good and I want it). Chickens also don't really like different, and since your molting black girl was acting different then the others, the dominant orp is just being a dominant bossy girl and may have been responding to that and trying to move her along and it hadn't quite escalated to actual picking or attacking yet. You are sure your girls are all girls, you don't have a surprise roo? If you have the black in the coop with them, and they still see and interact with her, she should be able to fit right back in. You could try letting her out for periods of time when you are there or once or twice a day.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2013
  4. forbzilla

    forbzilla New Egg

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    Dec 9, 2013
    Spokane Washington
    Thank you for your answer--very much appreciated.
    Sadly, here is another question.
    The particular Buff Orpington who is so "social" has a long comb, and the lady that sold her to me said, "I thought she was a rooster with that comb, but I find her all the time in the nesting boxes."
    Okay.
    But she also comes and tries to sit on my legs (you have to kneel in the coop to work there, and I either pick her up and pet her or push her back out--which is hard to do as "she" is "booomerang chicken".
    So you think I ought to be thinking along different lines? (oops. . . .)
    She is very nice, friendly just now in the extreme--but how do I tell if she is cross dresser? :
     
  5. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    Oops, can you take pictures of your girl? ... orps often tend to be late bloomers and there have been a lot of surprise roos posted on BYC, so unless she has laid an egg, I'd be taking a close look at "her". Some roosters will spend time in the nest boxes, some of them a lot of time, clucking and trying to convince the girls they have found a good one.
     
  6. forbzilla

    forbzilla New Egg

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    Dec 9, 2013
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    Okay, I went and took some photos this AM. Thanks for looking!
    [​IMG]
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    All 3 of the Orps have combs, though this one has the biggest. General size is average to the group and I'm not good enough to tell about feet or other characteristics. He/she DOES do the chicken squat when patted from overhead. Is that definitive? Naked chicken had a good night in crate, went out for a brief walk and darted right back in, so she is locked up again with some yogurt and cat food, pellets, etc. A balmy 20 degrees this morning--much better than -4. . . .
     
  7. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    Looks like a girl to me so far, not seeing any patchy coloring and no rooster tail or saddle feathers ... Squatting pretty much means girl. So would vote you have a pullet on the verge of starting to lay and the flock hierarchy is changing as they hit maturity at different rates. You don't think the BA is broody do you? Sounds like you are having a downright balmy day today :)
     
  8. forbzilla

    forbzilla New Egg

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    Dec 9, 2013
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    Thank you. Great thing about the forum is new ideas pop up. Saddle feathers? Feathers around the shoulders, back and lower neck I assume? (I'll look it up)


    I had just thought Black Australorp was molting, and so, miserable with the cold. However, I read that they should act normal, if a bit reserved, during a molt. You're right that she is acting like a broody hen, nesting up, darting out to eat or drink, but not much else. Seems a strange time of year, but hey, so is deciding to molt on the coldest weather week in four years. . .
    That said, a word in praise of the Australorp. At the same age mine outlayed my Light Sussex two to one and almost never went broody. So she is entitled to some TLC. Very charming chicken with a nice soft voice.
    Thanks for the help--I'll keep her in with short walks until she is fully feathered, and see how it goes.
     
  9. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Overrun With Chickens

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    Saddle feathers are pointy, longer feathers near the tail of a rooster. Hen's don't get them, so its one way that you can tell the gender of a chicken.
     

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