"Head Hen" behavior?


11 Years
Jul 24, 2008
My six Girls are about 11 weeks old and have been working out their "pecking order" fairly peacefully. None appear to get picked on excessively, thank goodness. I have noticed that one of my Barred Rocks, Harriette, holds her tail more erect than the other Girls, and she is the most aggressive of the lot- She has a very fierce looking face and acts like she's attacking her food when she eats. Harriette isn't mean to us, or her Sisters, but She does tend to be bossy. I've come to the conclusion that she has appointed herself "Head Hen. I'm just wondering if the erect tail is her way of showing her status? I really hope this isn't a sign that She's a Roo. Her comb and wattles are no bigger or redder than the other Girls. In fact, it's the smallest hen, Betty, also a Barred Rock who seems to have the most color in her face. Betty is also the hen that gets along best with Harriette- ever since the afternoon Harriette challenge Betty to a "who's the biggest, stretch and fluff contest" (they crack me up when they do that!) and Betty, who knew she didn't have a chance of winning, snatched a mouthful of feathers from Harriette's breast and glared at her, feathers hanging out of her beak. They have been best friends ever since. Go figure... Should I be concerned about the erect tail thing? Kathy
I have one EE chick that I decided was a possible roo based mostly on the fact that he sometimes "struts around" with his tail up. I got more confirmation this morning when I let the flock out this morning. Immediately he "stepped outside" into the run with my other suspected roo where they engaged in a short sparring match. The other chickens were busy at the feeder I had just set out under the coop. They are in the middle of their 8th week now.

I absolutely believe that tail-up posture is a dominant behavior, whether it is a pullet or a cockerel.
Well, I just hope Harriette is just using it as a way to declare her "Head Hen" status. She does tend to patrol the area when the other Girl's are lost in dust bath ecstasy, though she did succumb to it's lure today, but only after one of the other Girl's got up and shook herself off. I don't have a rooster and don't want one, so a vigilant Head Hen who takes her job seriously would be a good thing.
My BR hen, Brunhilde, is also head hen. She holds her tail very much like your Harriet. That 2nd pic of Harriet shows a posture very much like Brunhilde's, especially. I wouldn't worry about gender just yet. By the way, Brunhilde's good for about 5 eggs a week, so being in charge hasn't impacted egg production, as far as I can see.
Good to know! Thanks Lavandula Girl. By the way, I love the name Brunhilde! It's kind of "Witchy"!
Last edited:

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom