Hiding and protecting eggs as a pecking order thing?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by simply blessed, Dec 4, 2014.

  1. simply blessed

    simply blessed Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 20, 2014
    Colorado
    So I'm new to chickens, lots of other birds, but chickens only the last seven months...I have 5 Black Stars who have been laying about the past 2 months. We switched to a larger coop / run 2 months ago and the pecking order switched with #2 and #1 switching places. My #1 hen has been becoming less social with me since. All the rest beg for pets and will eat out of my hand. Forty (my number #1 hen named by a three year old), will get as high as she can when I enter the run and stare at me. She resists any contact, and occasionally pecks at me but does not (at least yet) break the skin. (I saw in another post about tapping them with a finger back so I've been doing that.) When I open the coop to clean or collect eggs, she jumps up and hurries to about a foot from me. At first I thought she was bragging about her egg, but now she seems to be trying to keep me away from all the eggs placing herself between me and the egg. (Only one hen actually lays in the nestbox, and it isn't her so every day reminds me of Easter egg hunts!) Today, her egg was buried in the pine shavings in the usual spot for her. At first I thought she was just curious, but she seems to grow bolder each day. Could she be trying to top me in the pecking order? I have small children so I can't have an aggressive hen. Is there something I should be doing to nip this in the bud? Sorry for the long post, but I don't know what is relevant to the situation. Might just have an eccentric bird!
     
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Sometimes in an all female flock, one of the birds will assume the 'rooster role' and defend the flock.

    Just stay calm and ignore her, don't try to handle her, showing(even feeling fear) can exacerbate any aggressive behavior.
    Walk thru her not around her-make her move for you.
    The kids need to do this also, if they can't and she remains aggressive you may need to rehome her.

    Once you all get used to this new behavior and learn to manage it, things should settle down.


    ETA:
    As far as getting them to lay in the nests...
    ....have you tried putting fake eggs/golf balls in the nests to entice them to lay there?

    A pic of your coop and nests might help us figure out a solution.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2014
  3. simply blessed

    simply blessed Out Of The Brooder

    30
    1
    26
    Nov 20, 2014
    Colorado
    Thanks! I'll try and get some decent pics. Maybe I've been handling her too much trying to get her used to me. Have golf balls in there, 1 in one nest, 2 in the other. They sleep on them or occasionally kick them out. Have put one of their eggs in there for a few days too, but I was afraid to do that longer because I didn't want them eating it. Since I only have a few birds, it doesn't matter too much to me if they don't put them in the "right" place as long as I can find them and don't end up with buried, rotten eggs in the summer!
    Thanks!
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Yeah, I have a few that seem to like to be handled, they'll walk right up and let me pick them up.
    Some will squawk when grabbed but settle down after getting a hold of them.
    Most of them do not like it at all and fight it and are stressed to the end, so I let them be including the rooster - no sense in stressing them out. If I need to handle them to examine a problem I go out with a head light and get them off the roost after dark, when it's easier to grab and restrain them. If want to pet something, I pet my dog-he likes it always.
     

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