Hen Pecks at Me

TaraontheCoast

Songster
9 Years
Apr 13, 2010
66
76
129
Oakland, CA
We adopted two 8-month old hens about a month ago, both of whom are laying. They're very friendly chickens and love to follow me around any time I am outside. I'm their primary caregiver, coop cleaner, egg collector and treat provider.

My Rhode Island Red, however, sometimes expresses herself by pecking at me. She often sticks close to me when I'm outside, but if I'm standing still, she will occasionally peck at my feet. Today, she was standing next to me on some steps and pecked a few times at my sweatshirt. I'm now sitting in an Aderondack chair and she reached through and pecked at my sides a few times. It never hurts, but it's startling.

We're new to chickens (and birds, really) so I'm not sure if she's just being curious or aggressive. I feel like it could be somewhere in the middle, like "Hey where are my treats?"

I've been shooing her away or picking her up and moving hew away, but if there's another way I can/should handle, I'm all ears.
 

Shadrach

Roosterist
Premium Feather Member
Jul 31, 2018
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We adopted two 8-month old hens about a month ago, both of whom are laying. They're very friendly chickens and love to follow me around any time I am outside. I'm their primary caregiver, coop cleaner, egg collector and treat provider.

My Rhode Island Red, however, sometimes expresses herself by pecking at me. She often sticks close to me when I'm outside, but if I'm standing still, she will occasionally peck at my feet. Today, she was standing next to me on some steps and pecked a few times at my sweatshirt. I'm now sitting in an Aderondack chair and she reached through and pecked at my sides a few times. It never hurts, but it's startling.

We're new to chickens (and birds, really) so I'm not sure if she's just being curious or aggressive. I feel like it could be somewhere in the middle, like "Hey where are my treats?"

I've been shooing her away or picking her up and moving hew away, but if there's another way I can/should handle, I'm all ears.
Interesting.
I have two hens that do this. I think of it as being a bit bossy more than anything else.
The hen that obviously does it for food, I sometimes gently push her away by placing my hand under her bum and propelling her forward. She seems to understand this and just grumbles but doesn't try to turn and peck me.
The other is just plain aggressive. I don't mind. I know what she's like and I think as she gets older and more confident it will reduce. I'm quite fond of aggressive hens here. I free range and we have the Goshawk as the main day time predator. The more aggressive hens, especially if they got chicks out with them tend to fare better if a Goshawk strikes.
I've had a number of hens survive but never a rooster.
 

so lucky

Crowing
9 Years
Jan 31, 2011
1,249
2,854
372
SE Missouri
I'll be interested in the answers you get, because sometimes my friendlier girls do that to me. One of them made a blood blister on my paper-thin skinned hand a couple of days ago. I used to have a speckled Sussex that would follow me across the yard and peck at the back of my legs. Not real hard, just enough to be annoying.
I usually just shoo them away when they do that. Maybe we should be more forceful?
 

Folly's place

Enabler
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
23,593
39,679
1,106
southern Michigan
She is being rude, not necessarily actually aggressive, but do stop this behavior.
Don't actually hand feed goodies, if you have been. Toss stuff on the ground instead, while calling them to you.
Have them respect your space, and react immediately if she doesn't move out of your way. Bump her with that bucket you are carrying, or something.
Peck her back, immediately, if you can, or again, have a 'weapon' that taps her when she's about to 'tap' you.
These pullets are learning their boundaries, and adult hens would correct these behaviors too.
Wear jeans and shoes or boots, so you don't have injuries if she escalates this behavior.
Mary
 

Folly's place

Enabler
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
23,593
39,679
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southern Michigan
I don't expect to be pecked, or jumped on, ever. Watch flock members interact with each other. The birds higher in the social order aren't pecked or harassed!
I'm not a chickens, and not part of their pecking order, and don't expect to have any bird try to 'manage' me.
Use enough force to be noticed, it really doesn't take that much effort, except to be consistent..
Mary
 

Mimi13

fuhgettaboutit
Premium Feather Member
Jan 6, 2018
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Centre, AL
Anytime I sit down there are several of my hens that will aggravate the fool out of me, some by pecking me and some that won’t shut up. Most of the time they are either looking for a treat or plain old attention. The ones who want attention always get it. They will peck at me when I’ve got one in my lap and I have to shoo them off. Sometimes their pecks hurt, even through my shorts or shirt. And heaven forbid if the notice a scab or spider vein on my leg. Good gosh. But when I have one that just won’t quit I keep pushing her away, again and again, until she wanders on off.
 

TaraontheCoast

Songster
9 Years
Apr 13, 2010
66
76
129
Oakland, CA
She is being rude, not necessarily actually aggressive, but do stop this behavior.
Don't actually hand feed goodies, if you have been. Toss stuff on the ground instead, while calling them to you.
Have them respect your space, and react immediately if she doesn't move out of your way. Bump her with that bucket you are carrying, or something.
Peck her back, immediately, if you can, or again, have a 'weapon' that taps her when she's about to 'tap' you.
These pullets are learning their boundaries, and adult hens would correct these behaviors too.
Wear jeans and shoes or boots, so you don't have injuries if she escalates this behavior.
Mary

Thanks Mary! Great suggestions. I do go out in the yard in sandals, so will stop doing that. I'll use my fingers to peck her back, or carry something that can. I adore her and her "sister" but having had dogs for 13+ years, have no problem setting alpha boundaries.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
99,223
138,804
1,807
SW Michigan
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Peck 'em back!

This is more about a rather aggressive pecker, but....
Have had this happen several times, mostly with hand fed chicks often as they come of age and get spunky. It's pretty easily curbed with calm and deliberate determination.

I peck them back, on the head or anywhere I can reach, with the tips of thumb and first 2 fingers, as hard and fast as many times as I can before they get away. Well, not hard enough to hurt them, just startle them and let them you mean business. That's what another chicken would do, so they understand that kind of communication.

If that doesn't work after a couple applications, I hold them down to the ground with my hand on their back until they submit....again firmly enough to get the job done but not hurt them....add a few finger pecks and/or tug on the feathers on the back of their neck.
 

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