New Pullets Mothered by "Alpha" Pullet?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Msfur08, May 26, 2019.

  1. Msfur08

    Msfur08 In the Brooder

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    May 25, 2019
    I got 5 new pullets of slightly different ages and each a different breed yesterday. They all came from the same place, but two are a bit bigger than the other three and a few weeks older. Where they were before, the two bigger ones were kept separately from the smaller ones.

    I'm not sure if they ever previously interacted with each other, but here they are, at my house, together.

    I noticed the three smaller ones (I believe two are 8-9 weeks and the other is 6 weeks) tend to hang out together during the day. The two bigger ones tend to stick close to each other in the yard. The two groups stay near each other, but generally separately. That is, until they're forced to share a smaller space at night.

    I sectioned off part of my large garage for the purpose of making it a coop for the chickens. There are some shelves built into the garage that have a space under them. When I put them in the garage last night, I turned off the light and noticed lots of peeping from the little ones and some almost clucking from one of the bigger ones. (The other "big" one quietly found a spot she liked to roost and settled in). I left them be and came back later to check on them, finding the three smaller ones under the shelf and the bigger two on the drawers that might not work as nest boxes after all if they want to roost on the edges instead of the many roosting bars I set up for them, lol.

    Today, when I put them to bed, I noticed the same behavior, then I saw the one clucking bigger one kind of herding the three smaller ones under the shelf almost like she was telling them to go to bed. She went under with them just long enough to settle their peeps, then she went up to roost with the other larger one. It almost looked like she was tucking them into the safest place she could find for them. Is she "mothering" them? Or is this normal "alpha hen" behavior to tell the others to go to bed?

    Also, on another note, the bigger two (an Amaracuana and a Midnight Majesty Maran) are a little skittish. I know this is typical of their breeds and feeding them will help them warm up to us. They're not mean, but I would like to work with them to make them a bit easier to handle. (My Silver Laced Wyandotte will sit on our laps and even fall asleep from us petting her. My Speckled Sussex is almost as friendly, and my Welsummer doesn't seem too distraught from handling. But the other two freak out badly.) Other than feeding them, are there any other tricks/do's/don'ts to get them to trust us more?
     
  2. BlueBaby

    BlueBaby Enabler

    When you go to pick them up, don't do it putting your hand above the head's, as they instinctively think it's a predator. Bring your hand toward's them more at their level.
     
  3. Msfur08

    Msfur08 In the Brooder

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    May 25, 2019
    Great advice! I was thinking this was true because I remember my dad telling me something similar about snakes when I was a kid. Really, this applies to almost any animal, but especially the ones typically considered "prey" animals.
     
    BlueBaby likes this.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Probably more 'flock leader' than 'mother'.
    Good observations tho....who knows what you might see in the future.
     
  5. Msfur08

    Msfur08 In the Brooder

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    May 25, 2019
    That makes sense. Another thing I noticed is my smallest one is pretty unwell... she is pooping blood. I started them on antibiotics in their water and medicated feed. I gave them some DE as well as Hydro Hen. The little one who is sick, the bigger one sort of protects her from the other big one who likes to peck others sometimes. The little one hides under the others. Seems she hasn’t grown for a couple days but the others have. She seems very weak and I had to clean her bottom today. She ate and drank a lot yesterday, but seems like less today. Anything else I can do for her?
     

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