Mean hen?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by tessalace, Sep 13, 2014.

  1. tessalace

    tessalace New Egg

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    Apr 19, 2014
    I have 5 chickens. All purchased at the same time (actually started with 8, 3 were roosters). 3 have started laying, 2 haven't. One that hasn't is an easter egger. The other one that hasn't started laying is just plain mean. It pecks at me, won't go towards the coop when I herd them in in the evenings. Today it pecked/grabbed my pants leg and wouldn't let go. Kind of like a dog playing tug of war. Are some hens just mean? Will it chill out once it starts laying? The layers are very submissive and calm. Here's a pic of the wee devil. [​IMG]
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Some chickens are indeed just mean, and they basically don't chill out about it, ever; that's the rare exception to the rule that does so. I wouldn't bet your other hens' lives on it.

    If she pecks onto another hen and doesn't let go, as she did with your clothes, she can cause an open wound, and I would bet you actual money that if she does this she will then immediately cannibalize the hen she wounds. In a matter of moments permanent harm can be done.

    She has an obsessive look to her eye, not mentally well. You come to recognize that look after a while. She'll always be a liability, chances are. Her abnormal behavior is a warning of the abnormal mentality underlying and compelling it. It's strongly heritable too so if you ever breed her you'll pass on her mindset. I'd be rid of her personally but that's just my preference for dealing with socially malignant animals, makes things much more peaceful and safer than the alternative. Most people keep them so they have issues with pecking, feather picking, extreme bullying, attacks on humans, cannibalism, etc. It's entirely optional.

    Best wishes.
     
  3. tessalace

    tessalace New Egg

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    Apr 19, 2014
    Thank you for your reply. I have been wondering if I'll need to get rid of her. We have small children that like to help with the chickens and while she hasn't bothered the kids or other chickens too much yet, I can see her personality becoming stronger. If she was putting out eggs I would be more lenient with her as well. But as she's not, I definitely have less tolerance for it. She acts like a rooster and a temperamental one at that. I was hoping she'd relax and become more submissive once laying. I'll have to think on what to do about her, for sure. Thank you!
     
  4. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    In this case I think her pecking and pulling at things is possibly her trying to eat anything and everything, possibly caused by pica; the look in her eyes is a bit deranged, not outright baleful. Animals with pica may focus on only flesh of other living things or include plastics, metals and other inedibles in their obsessive consumption attempts but whatever they focus on, it is a lifelong issue for which I know no treatment except isolation and restriction, or culling. They can end up turning their obsession on themselves too.

    If she actively, aggressively attacks, she's outright mean, but if she's just trying to eat everything she's basically nuts. In neither case is having leniency or mercy on them going to be kind in the long run to you or the other animals. If she makes warning vocalizations or shows aggression to you before she pecks it's not pica.

    When you say she acts like a rooster, do you mean she mates the hens, crows etc? Some hens do that but will still lay. I did however have one male who reached long past point of lay looking completely hen-like before maturing into a male, turns out it's not an uncommon genetic fault in some lines. If you were referring to her pecking as being acting like a rooster, well, violence isn't male-specific, good roosters are every bit as docile and harmless as good hens.

    Best wishes with her. I personally have very, very low tolerance for even vaguely malignant behaviors as I need my animals to be kid-safe, so understand your concerns there!
     

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