Mean behaviours in docile breeds?


In the Brooder
6 Years
Sep 22, 2013
Brisbane, QLD, Australia
I'm not sure if this should be here in the behaviour forum or in the breeds forum, so mods feel free to move it if appropriate.

I am in the process of choosing heritage breeds for my small flock. The breeds I am considering are:

Plymouth Rock (Barred)
Sussex (Light, coronation or Buff)
New Hampshire

These breeds are all described as fairly docile, however, reading the reviews here on BYC, for most of these breeds there are a few people who report meanness to the other chickens in the flock. I accept that a pecking order is normal and healthy but really don't want to end up with a chook that beats up or injures the others. So I'm wondering if any of you have any thoughts on the following:

Is meanness really breed related?
Is it more to do with a particular strain / breeding stock from a particular breeder?
Is there any way to avoid getting a mean bird? (I will be getting mine as pullets)
Can mean behaviours be discouraged?

Thanks in advance!


Fred's Hens

Premium Feather Member
9 Years
I cannot speak to the situation in OZ, but here in the US, this is a result of breeding. Hatcheries don't select for much of anything as to being faithful to the breed, let alone temperament. Hatcheries here crank out thousands and thousands of chicks a month and use huge flock breeding, non selective methods.

The problem with this propagation is that it isn't really breeding. The more aggressive roosters are more successful at dominating the flock, producing more of their kind with each succeeding generation.

When one researches the temperament of breeds, the data is somewhat warped. These breed specific temperaments generally refer back to the bred to Standard or pure bred examples of the breed. This information isn't entirely helpful when buying chicks that are not bred to the Standard and come from parent stock that fall far short of the standard.

So, it tends to be more of a crap shoot as to what temperament one gets.


6 Years
Sep 28, 2013
Lancaster, CA
Cochins are supposedly dosile breeds, when i first got my 3 hens they were 7 weeks and my two red sex links bullied my cochins and barely let her eat. now my cochins took a rooster leader role.of the flock amd beats on the two reds. i thinks it has to do with pecking order.

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