Our hen attacked my two young kids


Apr 14, 2020
Boston, MA
Thank you, everyone, for your thoughtful replies.

On a related note, does anyone have any advice on how to best transport a chicken in a car for a two hour drive? 😢


Sep 16, 2020
Scottsdale, AZ
Thank you, everyone, for your thoughtful replies.

On a related note, does anyone have any advice on how to best transport a chicken in a car for a two hour drive? 😢
I bought something like this: https://smile.amazon.com/MidWest-Fo...9Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=
We had a two hour drive to drop our little guy off. I put straw in the bottom and attached a pet bowl with water and he was fine. Sorry again. Virtual hugs from me to you. Some days adulting is really hard.


Apr 28, 2020
Hi all,
Need some advice on correcting some unacceptable chicken behavior.

We have a small flock of five hens, and this past weekend one of our hens (she's #2 in the pecking order) squared up on my one-and-a-half year-old and threw her feet up into his face, just as a rooster with spurs would (she doesn't have spurs, thankfully). He wasn't tormenting her or anything, just walking calmly and cutely through them and giving them gentle pets as he passed. Her back toe baaaaaarely made contact with his cheek--didn't break the skin or anything--but NO WAY is that sort of behavior going to be tolerated. Once I made sure my kid was okay I scooped him up and chased that hen around the backyard, "pecking" at her with my fingers. When she went to hide under a large, low tree where I couldn't reach her I got the long stick we use for our firepit and continued to gently peck her with it. Hopefully the fact that I was holding my son drove home the fact that she is NOT above him on the pecking order.

Then this morning the same thing happened with our seven-year-old. He had crouched down to give her a pet and she threw her feet up into his face, this time lightly scratching his cheek. I immediately instructed him to chase her and "peck" her, and then when she hid under that same tree I had him continue pecking her for a bit with the stick. After I took him inside and washed his cheek very well with soap and water I went back out with some treats, and made sure all of the other chickens got some, "pecking" at the offending chicken whenever she got close. I think it would have been more effective if my son was the one denying the treats, but at this point I was just pissed at her, to be honest.

So my question: is this just "testing the pecking order" behavior? Or is the fact that she's rearing up and attacking with her feet indicative of something else? And is there anything else I or my kids need to do to quell this misbehavior? Thanks in advance.

WHOOOOAH! I wish I was there to help you!!!

First of all, (eyeroll at me if you must :) are you SURE that it's a hen and not a roo? Have you physically seen her lay an egg? I ask, because, as you've already described as her showing rooster behavior in the way that she's physically attacking. And, if it's for sure a hen, was / is there a rooster around to be showing her/others how to act like this? I'd assume not, but just curious if there's or has been a roo around...

Okay, so let me suggest that in fact, I think you can try another method.

Your pecking back on her makes sense, but I think that you need to try it in a slightly different way. So, from what all advice that I've come across, is that based on chicken behavior--and, understanding that there's a pecking order in all flocks and a lead hen / rooster... that what another hen would do to gain leadership in the flock is more like what a rooster would do. So, bear with me...

Even NOW, you, personally, should actually approach this troublemaker, and talk to her, and GO PICK HER UP. You caress her, hold her tightly (but, not too tight, just enough to keep her within your clutches), and walk around the other hens with her in your arms, for a good 10+ minutes. You should do this a few times a day (for 5+ days in a row at least)--to show consistency with this hen. By carrying her around the other hens, you're also showing the troublemaker that you're in control.

You can then also add this to your pick up routine, or wait until bad behavior appears: you immediately GENTLY press her to the ground, from her shoulders, hold her down on the ground for a couple seconds. And / or, after many times of the walking around with her firmly in your arms, you could sit down in a chair with her, and hold her securely in your lap and press her shoulders into your lap. I have not found a non-lead hen who doesn't submit immediately to this authoritative action, as it's their instinctive nature and reaction to when a roo is going to mount them. 3 of my hens now (the youngest) act like I'm their rooster. I'll try to get video this weekend and share with you.

This rooster approach may take a little bit of time and consistency at first on your end, (like, 1-7 days of holding her, carrying her around, and showing her how to submit to you) but, I assure you that it'll put your hen into thinking that you're the boss, her rooster, and that you're the leader when you come around. In addition, you can actually build a relationship with her AND figure out what's really going on with her reacting that way to your kids. You could also consider separating her from the rest when your kids want to play--there's nothing wrong with doing this--like, put her back into the coop or a caged area, etc. while they play with the others! I've had 2 cats who literally HATE any child--especially who is under 3' tall--I kid you not--as soon as one of my kids was 3'1" the cat/s had NO problem with them. We didn't cull our cats--we told the kids to not go near the one/two cats--and, we talked to the cats--both knew what we were saying and learned to live with each other :)

What I'd suggest that you also consider is her nutritional satisfaction? I find that besides chickens finding smaller children (including up to teenagers) as being a threat to them--like, worried that they'll eat their food, they'll hurt them or another flock member--even if your kids are being kind--I'm sure at some point the chicken/s have felt threatened by them. This type of overly defensive behavior by a lead hen, I find is related to not getting enough nutritional satisfaction from their diet, like not enough protein or minerals, or even calcium for egg layers...

But, I can't help but to think that you may have a rooster or a hormonal hen--it's also not impossible for gender changes (from hen to roo or vice versa)--rare, but the behavior DOES seem very out of the ordinary for a hen.

Can you share pics of the feet and legs of this hen?


Apr 28, 2020
And, here's a couple helpful articles:

Though, I do NOT agree with turning upside down any chicken--especially a layer--but, there's still good info in this one, including this, relating to your situation:

" ...Living in fear of attack is not a good option. If you have an aggressive chicken, don’t send your kids out to gather eggs or feed the chickens until they’re old enough to be the dominant force. Show them how to do it, or get rid of the threat. Children have been blinded in chicken attacks. "


And, this article:

How-to videos:

This one she shows how to do the technique around 2:15:

This one he shows at around 9:45:

And, this video may help in supporting your feeling comfortable to handle your hen like a rooster:

Momma hen quack

Oct 4, 2017
I have a hen that attacks me like our roosters do. However, my kids are all teenagers or an adult so they can deal with her. We have tried asserting our dominance as would be done with a rooster, but she still is evil and attacks when in her home. I just put her far away when I clean her home. If I had small children, I would just re-home as I haven't had much luck with behavior modification and I have a master's degree in clinical psychology. My daughter won't let me get rid of her rooster who is also evil. He and I have gone head to head with his head out on the ground between my fingers. Still , he tries to attack and peck me. With a large stick, he has learned who is in charge plus I now have 3 other roosters to put him in his place. Some birds never learn! Good luck!

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