Hen attacks me while I hold another hen

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by weknowstuff, Feb 7, 2017.

  1. weknowstuff

    weknowstuff New Egg

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    I have 6 hens - 2 red sex-links, 2 black sex-links, and 2 cream legbars. They've grown up together since Day 1 and have always been sweet, kind and gentle.

    Recently, one of my red-sex links has started bullying the 2 legbars and whenever we hold one of them, she flys up at me and the kids to "attack." She was the runt of the batch, but now I think she's #1 - but why on earth is she flying up at us?

    Today, I saw that one of the legbars is missing all of the feathers from her neck and the red is yanking them out. When I went to cradle the legbar and hug her, the red went after me and the legbar. I put my foot up and chased her. Then, I held her to the ground like everyone says to. She's being very timid around me now, which she should, but what is going on?

    The girls will be a year old in March.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2017
  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC

    She is coming at you/the kids because you have one of her flockmates in your grasp -- to a chicken you are either predator or prey and when you are holding another chicken that makes you a predator. Defense of the flock does not require her liking the other bird....and the fact that she has claimed the role of top bird in the flock just makes her defense that much more understandable.
     
  3. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    Regarding picking -- when you witnessed the picking did the RSL drop the feathers or consume them? What are you currently feeding your flock? Are your birds confined 24/7 (and, if so, what are the dimensions of their enclosure) or do they free-range for part or all of the day?
     
  4. ejcrist

    ejcrist Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ol Grey Mare is right on the money - it's all about protecting the other birds. I know a lot of people like to hold their birds, and I'm sure there are exceptions, but I've never held a bird yet that liked being held. They'll jump up on my shoulders, etc. looking for food sometimes when I'm working in their area but they never like it when I restrain them to check them over for health and measurements. The cock birds get upset whenever I pick up a pullet/hen also but I never tolerate cockiness so they keep their distance, and that's the way I like it.
     
  5. weknowstuff

    weknowstuff New Egg

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    That's an interesting view, but then why is she pecking at the hen I'm holding? It's almost as if she thinks I'm giving her better access to the weaker bird. Does that make any sense?
     
  6. weknowstuff

    weknowstuff New Egg

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    A few months ago, they were eating feathers, so I changed their food. Now, this red hen is picking the legbars feathers out in a mean spirited fashion. It looks like a pecking order thing, but it's mean. The legbar has a naked area on her neck now. :(
     
  7. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    You are looking at this from a human perspective, the chicken is not.
     
  8. weknowstuff

    weknowstuff New Egg

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    That does make sense. usually when we hold them, they are free ranging and are fine with it. But today, I was checking for mites and the were definitely worked up about it.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I've had that happen too, other birds attacking me and/or the bird I'm handling.
    Some kind of pecking order thing......I always go all 'Head Hen' on the attacking bird, until she remembers her place when I'm around.
     

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