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Hen freaking out whenever I get near her

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Petra Pancake, Mar 27, 2017.

  1. Petra Pancake

    Petra Pancake Chillin' With My Peeps

    Maybe it's the spring air... today was the second time in a week that the rooster and half the hens broke out of their run. [​IMG]
    My chickens are not "tame", most of them I got when they were grown up already. I don't hold them, just feed them, watch them and collect the eggs. In the run, they move out of my way when I come in. If for some reason I need to move them from A to B, I normally "shepherd" them with a long bamboo stick, that is, I direct them with it and sometimes give stragglers a gentle tap on the back (really gentle, of course I don't hit them). Anyway, today half the flock was outside, all the good flyers including the rooster. They had to get back in because our garden isn't fenced and I don't want them all over the neighborhood (neither do the neighbors). For some reason I felt a bit suspicious of the rooster and decided to take a broom instead of the usual bamboo rod, just in case he's up to something silly (he's never attacked me yet, though). The chickens were all quite frightened when I tried to direct them back to the run with the broom, but I got them back in, all minus one hen. She freaked out entirely and flew away like a rocket, loudly screeching. Within seconds she was out of sight and vanished somewhere in our neighbor's garden. I couldn't find her and after a while decided to leave her to come back on her own. I put the other chickens back into the coop and closed the coop door but left the door of the run open so that she could get back in. Indeed, half an hour later she was back, loitering around the run door. I went out to get her in and close the run door, but she took of with a screech again as soon as I came around the corner (without the broom!). Some time later I found her in the run and tried to get her into the coop with the others.To open the coop door, I had to get near her, and off she went again, lifting off vertically like a helicopter and vanishing in the high grass outside. We had another few rounds of that helicopter game and some hide and seek until finally, after sunset, I got lucky and managed to chase her into the coop and slam the door shut.
    What can I do to prevent her from freaking out in the future, every time I get near her? She's been part of my flock for half a year and should know by now that I'm the "food-human" who brings feed and water and closes up the coop at night and lets them out in the morning. Even if the broom frightened her - I won't use it again any time soon - how can I get her back to normal? If she stays like this, I won't be able to let her into the run again with the others and I don't have alternative housing for her.

  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    How are they getting out of their run? I would work on fixing that before worrying about anything else. Some people will go sit in the chicken run or out where they're ranging, just to get the chickens used to their presence. That might be a good place to start after you figure out how to keep them contained.
    1 person likes this.
  3. Petra Pancake

    Petra Pancake Chillin' With My Peeps

    @bobbi-j , they fly out of the run. That's why only half the flock gets out - the good flyers. The heavier and calmer ones staid behind both times. The fence around the run is about 5 feet high, bit less in some places. It is partially covered with tarp but there are gaps in the "roof". They have been in that run for more than half a year with no problems. It's a new thing that they fly out. I'll have to check what's cheaper - getting the run a chicken-proof roof or just getting a fence around the garden (there is already an incomplete old fence). Maybe I'll clip a few wings as well, though I've never done that before.
    As far as getting them used to my presence is concerned, well, normally they are used to me and don't panic like that. Also, it was only one specific hen that went crazy (Cream Puff. Today I really considered renaming her "Psycho-Puff"), the others were o.k. and went back into the run nicely right away.
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    I'd look into covering that run for a couple of reasons. For one, of course, keeping your flock contained. Another good reason would be to keep predators out. Climbing predators will have no problems getting through the gaps. Hawks can swoop down into your run where it's not covered.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Ditto Dat^^^^
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
  6. nenebynature

    nenebynature Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 9, 2016
    Southern Indiana
    I got my first girls this past fall from a family member. They were already 2 1/2 years old. They were used to free ranging all day on the farm and we're not really considered pets. When I got them and needed to herd them back into their coop, we went round and round and I looked like an idiot. I was also scaring them. I started shaking a bag a meal worms when I called them to go back into their run. Now all I have to do is call them and they come running. Most of the time I throw a couple worms in the run, but I don't always have to. This is really helpful especially when they get too close to the road or too close to the dogs or too close to my cuss word flowerbeds.
  7. Petra Pancake

    Petra Pancake Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'll try the meal worm trick or something similar. Good idea to train them with treats to come to me in any event. Regarding predator safety: We don't have hawks or any airborne predators and no really climbing ones either. Everyone keeps their chickens in open pens around here (but most people have higher fences than we around them). The real problem are feral dogs and domestic dogs on the loose. Occasionally foxes at night, but so far none have made it into my coop... containing the flock of course will require some re-designing.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2017
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    No hawks, yeah right.:pop
  9. Spartan22

    Spartan22 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 2, 2014
    North Canton, Ohio

    Agreed! No hawks, no possums, no raccoons, no owls [​IMG], NO CHICKENS.

    We have non of these on our lawn until we have beautiful chickens.
    Check out what I found inside our covered run one Sunday morning.

    Last edited: Mar 28, 2017
  10. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.

    [​IMG] One of these things is not like the others...[​IMG]

    It's kind of surprising the wildlife we "don't have" until we get chickens. Then they seem to appear out of nowhere. I have gone for 3-4 years at a time with no predator losses in my free range flock. But when one comes along and finds them, they can do a lot of damage in a short time.

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