Personality Change at Point of Lay

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by AUChickenGal, Feb 21, 2017.

  1. AUChickenGal

    AUChickenGal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Have any of you ever experienced a pullet who has undergone a complete personality change as she approached point of lay?

    My Welsummer was the sweetest bird in the flock until last week. She would come over to greet me and enjoyed being petted and even carried around. Now, however, she puffs up her chest and challenges me every time she sees me. If I ignore her, she'll escalate to pecking at my leg - HARD! - or flying up and trying to flog my legs (it's a good thing she doesn't have spurs!). Sometimes, she'll be her normal sweet self, but most of the time she acts like she's been possessed by a demon. She's too small to do any real damage, but I'd still prefer not to have to deal with that kind of behavior on a daily basis.

    I'm hoping she's just reacting badly to her changing hormones and will settle back down soon. She's 21 weeks old now. She WAS my favorite bird in the flock, but my affection for her is rapidly wearing thin. Otherwise, she may find her way to a crockpot or on Craigslist soon. I'm finally making progress on getting her to roost at night instead of sleeping in the nest boxes and now this... [​IMG] She's perfectly healthy and is definitely a pullet. The chickens have more than 8 square feet per head in the coop and about 20 square feet per head in the run, plus they get to free range for a few hours most evenings, and she's not acting like this to the other birds, just to me.

    So, any ideas? Past experiences with a similar behavior change? Moral support?
     
  2. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    Broody hens will do this some times but they usually stay in the nesting boxes most of the day. If she is not going broody, I would be Firm with her and break her if I had to kick her across the yard if she came at me----or boil the meaness out of her. I would not pass a problem hen on to someone else---well a Meat Buyer I would cause when he gets them they are going in the pot anyway.
     
  3. Shezadandy

    Shezadandy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    She's definitely challenging you. Because she was the favorite, she's kind of picking a pecking order fight with you, probably stirred by the rush of hormones.

    The pictures below are my older hens putting a hormonal cockerel (about 20 weeks old or so) in his place. That's what I mean in other posts (links below) by the surrender pose. Once they put him in the corner, he stayed there with his head down for quite a while! (but they didn't hurt him)

    Here are a couple similar posts about hens challenging their humans with previous advice/ideas, mine and others too.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1136929/she-bit-me
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1149277/chicken-attacking-me#post_17969180

    edited to add another link: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1135335/biting-pullet/10

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2017
  4. AUChickenGal

    AUChickenGal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks! Those links are helpful.

    I've never hand fed them - all treats/feed come either from their feeder or from a bucket that I use as "bait" when I need to round them up. I work with horses and other large livestock in my professional life, so I've essentially been treating her as a very small, feathered, colt. [​IMG] When she approaches me politely, she gets petted and/or picked up for attention. When she gives me "the eye" and postures like she's going to peck, she gets a quick tap to the back of the head/neck or pinned to the ground for multiple offences. When she flies at my legs, she gets booted across the yard.
     
  5. Shezadandy

    Shezadandy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    LOL- yes, we come from similar backgrounds. The other threads had chickens biting owners (usually because of treat feeding, thus the focus on that). Next time she does the fly at the legs, I would grab her (mid-air if you can manage it) and put her on her side with her feet out from under her until she gives up, i.e any attempt to get up before you walk away, she gets pinned again until you can stand up and walk away without her moving. Hopefully she calms down for ya!
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    This^^^^ be the 'head hen'!

    Definitely they can go thru personality changes at onset of lay...raging hormones, pecking order changes.
    You've got livestock experience, you got this.
     
  7. AUChickenGal

    AUChickenGal Chillin' With My Peeps

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