Hen with spurs "attacking" all my other hens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by LindsaySinai, Feb 4, 2015.

  1. LindsaySinai

    LindsaySinai Chirping

    Jun 17, 2011
    San Diego
    I have what looks like a penciled hamburg who has grown spurs. She always seemed kind of wild and never joined the rest of the flock. She climbs/flies up the wisteria and lays her eggs on the lattice over our patio where it's impossible to get them. My boyfriend just noticed the spurs a few days ago and now she's frantically chasing all the other hens around the yard and doing what a rooster should be doing. Any info on this? I've read about hens with spurs but do they act like a rooster as well?
  2. Spangled

    Spangled Songster

    Jan 12, 2012
    Serenity Valley
    Hmmmm. Wow. This is interesting situation.

    I have had a few hens with spurs. Mine first one was a New Hampshire. She was a hen for sure, and some of her chicks also had spurs. She acted just like any other hen, but I do tend to keep a rooster or two running with the laying flock. I heard these hen-spurs were from them having some other breed (Old English Game? or American Game?) in their background somewhere. But I don't know. Mine all act just like hens.

    On the rooster-like attitude ... I've heard that in flocks without a male, sometimes a hen will take his place as flock-master without having the capability of fertilization, but will perform other acts (watching sky, warning, leading). I've also heard of the ovary atrophying (is that a word?) ... the hen's (last remaining) ovary atrophies and she ends up acting much more like a rooster.

    I had chalked laying hens with spurs up to "fluke." However, in your situation, I wonder just what is going on.
  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    Lindsay, sometimes a hen will start developing male characteristics. It's interesting that she's still laying, in light of her behavior. Have her hackle and saddle feathers taken on the long pointed characteristics of a male? What about her tail feathers? Are you POSITIVE that she's laying those eggs, or could an other one of your gals be laying up there? Can you post a picture showing head and neck, as well as tail feathers? What about her comb and wattles? Is she the only hamburg you have? How old? I'm guessing that if she is truly a she, she's got some hormonal issues going on. It does happen. I doubt that even if she is a she and starts crowing that she/he would ever be able to fertilize an egg.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Every hen and pullet I have ever butchered has some type of spurs, some pretty noticeable or at least a spur bud. A hen having spurs says nothing about her except that she has spurs.

    The mating ritual is not just about sex. It is also about dominance. The one on bottom is accepting the dominance of the one on top, either willingly or by force. One way a chicken will enforce and establish dominance is by mating another chicken. Usually that is the dominant rooster in the flock, but in a flock without a dominant rooster the dominant hen will sometimes go through the mating ritual with another lower-ranking hen or pullet, even touching vents. It’s her way to show the flock that she is the dominant chicken.

    What you are describing sounds perfectly normal and natural. I’ve seen it in my flock when I did not have a dominant rooster.
  5. Spangled

    Spangled Songster

    Jan 12, 2012
    Serenity Valley
    And that's great news for the original poster! [​IMG] Except maybe not so much for the hens below the peciled Hamburg in the pecking order. [​IMG]
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Some breeds are simply more prone for hen's to have spurs. Having spurs is not in itself a male characteristic. Lots of game hens have spurs and are good layers and great mommas. Could simply be she's maturing and deciding to bee the boss...someone's gotta do it.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by