Hen runs in front of me and pecks. Dominance behavior?


10 Years
Oct 5, 2009
Boston, MA
I have six hens (about 8 months old) and frequently let them out of their run in the afternoon to free range in the yard. One of my hens, a Rhode Island Red named "Penny", kept getting in front of me and started pecking at my foot. When I reached down to pet her she puffed herself up and pecked at my hand. I tried to walk around her again and she repeated the behavior. She was really puffing herself up and seemed to be standing up higher on her legs. I've never had any of my girls exhibit this kind of behavior before, so I'm completely baffled.

Is this some kind of dominance behavior? Is she trying to make herself more dominant than me? I haven't been able to find out any information on the internet, so I'm hoping that some chicken expert out there might know. Thanks!
Mine peck at me too... but more in a curious way. Do yours peck your shoes, or do they attack your feet?
Because mine most peck at fuzz on my clothes or shiny spots on shoes,etc. anything that is different:p
Sometimes mine peck at me or pull on my shoes/pants in a curious way, but this was different. It was really weird to see her puff up her feathers like she did. This seemed more like an attack peck. We were in the middle of my back yard and she had plenty of room to move away from me.
Yes, sounds like dominance, there are a lot of ways to combat it, a quick scoop up with your foot underneath her that lifts her about 2ft off the ground seems to work for me. I have RIR's, if one tries to be dominant i throw treats out for them and them prevent her from eating them, i hold her back and let the others have at it, a couple times and she will soon remember who the boss is and who rules the roost! A couple times i have "grounded" her, kept the offender in the coop while the others free range, i guess it sounds like chicken psychology but it keeps me the boss
Peck her back! Let penny know your the dominate chook. I have to do that with Zoii, my "queen of the flock" BR. In the end she knows who brings the food and cleans the poo.
Could she be taking up the role of roo------I have heard when there is no roo- that a hen will do that and even quit laying and become the caretaker of the flock. Teresa in WV
I have a 6 month old Rhode Island Red that just started attacking my boots yesterday when I walk. She wont do it to anyone else though. I am guessing she sees me as a competitor for flock dominance even though shes the smallest could she be the top hen? It is kind of freeky because it will just come flying out of no where and peck at my boots like shes trying to rip off a chunk of meat! She wont stop until I gently usher her away with my foot 3-4 times or go inside! Eventually Ill step on her by accicdent. It reminds me of dog behavior. Again she has not done this to her "mom" my 5 year old daughter. Good thing its not sandels weather around here. I keep yall posted or she be guest of honor at the next Pats tailgate!

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