Hen came after me! Question:

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Jennschics, Dec 8, 2014.

  1. Jennschics

    Jennschics Out Of The Brooder

    48
    3
    36
    Oct 11, 2014
    North Mississippi
    So I got home and found my silkie Enid in the brooder tub I keep me 7 week old chicks in for transport.

    [​IMG]


    She was pecking and fussy, so I thought I would help her get out.
    Well I walk up slowly and gently get her out
    And put her down.
    [​IMG]
    She charges me. Then stands back and keeps coming after me. I stand my ground. Then she jumps back in the tub. I put the lid on and bring her inside her makeshift coop in the garage. I do take this time to hold her close to me and speak calmly. Then put her in.

    Now I've only had her for 2 weeks and she is 1.5. I go back out to get her chicks and put them in with her and I see a fresh egg.

    Can I chalk it up to her needing to lay? I mean I have 3 nesting boxes set up outside while she free ranges. So I was hoping she would use one of those. I was hoping she wasn't getting mean on me! I've been trying to keep a steady routine with them and handle them a lot since they were barely handled from the people I got them from.
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

    4,905
    588
    286
    Apr 8, 2013
    Australia
    Sounds like there's a bit more going on behind the scenes but I don't know for sure what... But I'd cull her, myself. I don't care what her reasons or excuses are. A chook that attacks you is a threat to you, itself, and quite often to other chickens as well.

    I used to tolerate some aggression over chicks and nests, but experience tells me the chicks are the most likely to bear the brunt of tolerating that mindset. You are a necessary influence in their lives, you must be able to handle them for their own good. Bad attitudes can be fatal. Plus, they tend to breed it on.

    She didn't charge you because she needed to lay. If she needed to lay so badly she would not have budged, indeed she physically wouldn't have been able to. Sounds like a plain bad attitude coupled with nest possessiveness. Either way, intolerable, as it means this is the sort of hen who is likely to trample her own offspring trying to get to you, and break her own eggs or jump off hatching eggs, causing problems, in her desire to get at you. No good. I've had a good few hens like that over the years, after they caused enough harm I killed them. Not worth it.

    Best wishes.
     
  3. silkymom

    silkymom Chillin' With My Peeps

    254
    6
    121
    Nov 20, 2009
    wow havnt seen this happen, but we do outwhey tham by at least 100 lbs, i would see for sure if they are baby killers, cant let a 2 lb bird get the best of yal,
     
  4. 3ChickensNADuck

    3ChickensNADuck Out Of The Brooder

    80
    4
    38
    May 30, 2013
    Lakewood, CA
    Not sure, but sometimes my hens are moody. One day they'll follow me around and another day they'll be terrified if I walk by. Could be a bad day, maybe you need more bonding time.
     
  5. Jennschics

    Jennschics Out Of The Brooder

    48
    3
    36
    Oct 11, 2014
    North Mississippi
    She was nice all day which is why I was suprised! She's back to normal. She's been very kind to her 4 month old offspring and has never been rough with them. It did worry me that she would attack them.

    Thank you all for replying. This is all new to me!
     
  6. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

    4,905
    588
    286
    Apr 8, 2013
    Australia
    It's not uncommon for hens that display extreme aggression like that to hurt babies while trying to get at you, no matter how good they are as mothers at other times, which is what I meant there.

    I had a hen who would fly my face, couldn't feed or water her babies without her making a hysterical scene out of it... She was otherwise a good mother, ended up dying and leaving her babies orphaned because her rage towards me was as such that while eating some grass, she spotted me, and screamed at me as always --- accidentally inhaling the grass, and subsequently suffocating. With her first few clutches she was a great mother. Always a bit aggressive but it just got worse and worse and worse as she went on.

    I also had a turkey hen with accelerating trends towards attacking humans, she too used to be a good mother though always angry, but with every clutch she got more and more aggressive, until the mere sight of me was enough to get her pawing the ground like a bull, in full fight mode, crushing and crippling her babies as she did so. She also ended up flying my face. Less funny with such a big bird.

    The rest of my hens, chicken and turkey, have not had these issues, it's just been those two extremely angry hens. What a waste of some fine chicks they were. I tried to rehabilitate and manage their issues, but should have culled them for everyone's sake. Hence recommending culling in your case. Yep, they're fine the rest of the time, but their little 'episode' of aggression is the marker of an unstable and unsound animal, unfortunately. Temperament is easily bred on since it's highly heritable, so if you're not careful you could end up with more of them. How useless, to have a hen or rooster that attacks you while you're doing necessary tasks around them! No patience here anymore. lol... Anyway...

    Whatever your choices with her, best wishes.
     
  7. ernie85017

    ernie85017 Chillin' With My Peeps

    158
    7
    83
    Jun 24, 2012
    I have to go with her needing to lay. Though I have never seen anything like that.

    My girl who lost her eye last year seems to be protective of me. If I am trying to catch one of the others and they are putting up a fuss, she will jump and peck at them.

    They are funny funny birds.
     
  8. 3ChickensNADuck

    3ChickensNADuck Out Of The Brooder

    80
    4
    38
    May 30, 2013
    Lakewood, CA

    Wow, yea if my birds ever became like that, they'll become fantastic dinners. :p
     
  9. silkymom

    silkymom Chillin' With My Peeps

    254
    6
    121
    Nov 20, 2009
    wow i can see trrouble if an aggresive roos are a prob but we still outweigh them if they dont hurt their own and lay eggs whats the problem >??? im hoping this giant roo i have doesnt give me probs, hes just gotten his thing on, but heck, if theyu dont hurt other birds, they sure as heck cant hurt us????their 2 lb birds,
     
  10. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

    4,905
    588
    286
    Apr 8, 2013
    Australia
    "What's the problem?" It's actually plural, there are many problems with keeping and breeding any vicious individual, both short term problems and multi generational problems that can and do outlive the individual human and chicken that starts the ball rolling, so to speak.

    The same thought process has led to Chihuahuas as a breed having a terrible reputation, for example. "They're only small, we outweigh them, what's the problem...?" How many people every year get scars and need stitches despite outweighing Chihuahuas? Many people rate them in the top percentage of breeds that bite regularly and have horrible mentalities. It's easy to dismiss it because they usually do far less damage than bigger breeds, but that's not really a justification for breeding vicious animals.

    They can hurt you, small or not. Especially because most prefer to go for the eyes, and from the side or behind, and to overcompensate for their smaller size with greater ferocity or, as one of my tiny bantam hens did, clever choice of points to bite onto and twist, and vicious chooks in general show a preference for attacking when you're unable to defend yourself or unable to see them. When she bit, that little bantam hen could leave indents like a small pair of wirecutters would; if she had proper spurs, as many of my hens do, she would have potentially sent me to hospital for stitches, possibly cost me an eye.

    All their tactics increase their chances of getting more damaging results. They have to be pretty dumb to keep flogging your legs when it gets no result; most simply aren't that dumb. They're results-oriented. They like bullying, not fair fights. Vicious chickens are almost always cowards. Only a small percentage of aggressive birds will remain up-front in their aggression once confronted with an equal opponent, and those are the most unhinged of all. It's another reason small children are their favorite victims, too.

    I've had a Silky flog me before, hitting with such force that if I was a small child the bones in my hand would have been broken. That's just a tiny purebred Silkie, with no true spurs, just small, wobbly, soft, blunt things, pointing off in useless directions alongside the extra toes. The real impact was delivered by the bones of the legs and feet. What a whallop the bird could still apply with that; the force was equivalent to being hit with a small hammer, and left equivalent damage, with deep tissue and bone bruising and deeply indented blue-purple marks. Muscle, tendon and nerve damage are very common and often permanent results. Until you've been seriously flogged you won't know how much force they can apply. It's shocking, even from tiny Silkies.

    The grandmother who owned him would be chased around the yard by him every day, and would wistfully sigh over my docile and nice natured chooks, but "he produces beautiful babies" she said, when asked why she put up with it, and so she continued to risk the safety of her grandchildren on this fluffy piece of fecal matter. The kids had to use a broom to bash him around the yard for their own safety, (nice training there, granny) or she had to lock him up when they visited, and he would fly her face too despite not having proper wings. She lived in fear of him. She ended up getting some mongrels off me just to have some joy in her chicken keeping again. How pointlessly sad.

    She was a purebred breeder; it's not really a coincidence. She was also insane, with a vicious streak of her own. Probably also not a coincidence. She had a real condemnation of those who hurt animals, though she also batted him around the yard and forced her grandkids to, but oh boy, could and would she hurt people. While that seems to be a divergent topic, it's often not. People who breed vicious animals, in my experience, tend to fall into two groups: those who don't know better, and those who either like to see others get hurt or just don't care if they contribute to others getting hurt. There are also those others which have ideal situations for managing vicious stock, but personally I think many of them forget the bigger picture, and their lack of perspective is also harmful.

    They can and do hurt one another, small or not, that's a quite sizable amount of muscle in their thighs, equivalent to the arms on many humans including plenty of fine-boned, small adults. Not the majority obviously but it doesn't take a huge amount of muscle to do serious harm anyway. Even without spurs they can do quite a lot of damage. Vicious mentalities are often widely applied, it's not too common to have a bird that only expresses its aggression to humans and not other birds too. Behavioral traits tend to come in conglomerations, not just singular faulty behaviors.

    If the bird is demented enough to attack humans, massive opponents they can't possibly beat, despite having thousands upon thousands of years of successful selection for tame natures bred into the overwhelming majority of them, then they are significantly aberrant and of limited value as domestic animals. Aggression is highly heritable and makes for miserable experiences in flock-keeping, as well as reduced productivity for the rest of the flock due to stress, almost as a rule. It often also limits the owner's ability to care for either the aggressive animal, or the rest of the flock, often both, due to the everpresent threat of attack.

    It's very easy to select against aggression, cannibalism, and other bad behavioral traits, and almost immediately get long-lasting results, permanent really unless you introduce 'new blood' carrying such traits, which is where maintenance culling has to occur if you're not a devoted inbreeder, lol. I know I'm not.

    Since removing aggressive birds from my breeding stock many years ago I've never had a recurrence, and instead have a safe, happy and productive flock. So many people (and countless nice natured chickens) suffer under vicious chickens due to people thinking that it's unavoidable, it's "just how they are", and other BS like that. Some purebred breeders are some of the worst when it comes to passing on those sorts of nuggets of defeatist misinformation, since absolute dedication to appearance above all else (somehow many forget temperament breed standards also exist) leads some to turn a deliberately blind eye to the terrible attitudes their birds have and the harm they cause.

    Vicious hens tend to produce vicious offspring, too, so keeping vicious hens can give you vicious roosters, and vice versa. There's no magical line dividing aggression into one gender only just because they had only one aggressive parent.

    Then there's your contribution to the global genepool to take into account, which I think has some element of social responsibility whether or not you adhere to breed standards; if you're passing on vicious mentalities by your breeding choices, you're contributing to the percentage of chickens that cause sometimes serious, or even fatal, injuries to other chooks and humans, especially children which are most at risk of being seriously damaged or killed by roosters (yes, it happens).

    Plus, breeding vicious animals is greatly increasing the chances of causing grief to others. At no point would I be happy with the knowledge that an animal I bred went on to make someone's kid cry, develop a fear of the species, or need stitches, or scalped someone's favorite hen, or any pointless and avoidable trauma like that. Not the legacy I want to leave, but many forget that in our breeding choices we are creating a legacy, as well as shaping the legacy of others' breeding choices. How tragic for great lines to fall into the hands of those that select the nastiest birds to continue the family.

    Good breed reputations that people worked on over hundreds of years are destroyed in as little as a few generations by people keeping and breeding animals with nasty temperaments. There's only one way breeds get a reputation for docile, friendly temperaments --- by killing all the ones that are not of that mentality.

    Anyway, this is all fairly strong an opinion, but it's not intended to offend, so please don't take it personally. I know it can take a long time for people to give up on trying to rehabilitate vicious birds, and I know some people aren't emotionally able to kill vicious birds or hand them over to someone who will.

    It's just how I feel about it. If you disagree, I still wish you and your birds all the best.

    I know the hardline stance is not for everyone, but that just means myself and others like me have more 'cleaning up' to do, pinching off the ends of people's vicious family lines, sometimes by getting nasty birds for the express purpose of ensuring they never pass on their genes again. I'm not on a crusade about it, though, just consistent in destroying aggressive lines when I find them. Not every animal deserves to breed and when considering the social and physical wellbeing of others, it looks quite unethical to perpetuate some traits. The breeder whose animals possess ugly mentalities, no matter how pretty they are, doesn't make a good or lasting reputation for themselves, either. People learn to avoid them after enough bad experiences. No amount of prettiness or 'good type' externally makes up for ugliness internally, for most people, anyway. Some can only see the cute exterior. But they tend to pay for being so shallow, as the granny I mentioned before does.

    Best wishes.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2014
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by