Red Star Hoodlums-Need Advice

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Enchanted Sunrise Farms, Oct 8, 2008.

  1. i bought some Red Star pullets couple months ago, in order to get a regular supply of eggs. When they were young they were sweet. Now they're laying hens and have gotten pretty mean and out of control.

    They have plenty of food and water all the time. They also get extra treats. But whenever i go into the pen with a bowl or plate of treats, they start jumping up and snapping at my hands. Before i have a chance to put the bowl down, they've slammed into it and everything goes flying. It ends up all over the ground, on each other's backs. It's a madhouse. Even trying to get into or out of the pen or coop area (wherever they are currently shut into), the door opens and there are legs and wings and beaks pushing. i'm trying to get inside and half of them are crouching in front of me, the other half are trying to shove their way out. They even snap at my hands when i'm in the pen or coop and have nothing to give them.

    i don't know what to do to change this. Is it simply a matter of spending more time with them? How do i get them to calm down? Are Red Stars naturally like this? And then, now trying to integrate my two older EEs and not going well (another whole issue). Penny is holding her own, but one of the RS got the better of poor Grace once, and now they all gang up on her every time i try to put them together. It breaks my heart seeing Grace cowering in a corner, so i give up and let them back into their old pen. But that has to change as this new coop and pen was built for all of them, and i need that other coop for Silkie expansion.

    Any advice would be appreciated.
  2. Chicky Joy

    Chicky Joy Songster

    Jun 22, 2008
    I have 8 lovely Red Stars. I love em but they are a bit crazy. They do seem to get over excited about the food/treats but not exactly mean. They do crowd the door when I try to come in, unless they have something better to do. Some of them have a bit more sass than the rest but they aren't too bad. Everyone that has visited them says that they are happy, contented chickens. I'd say they're just a little excitable when it comes to food.

    I'm anxious to see how they are when we integrate our 6 black star chicks in about 4-6 weeks.
  3. kinnip

    kinnip Songster

    Feb 24, 2008
    Carrollton, GA
    That wouldn't fly around here. There would be no more treats.
  4. debilorrah

    debilorrah The Great Guru of Yap

    Have you raised your voice to them? My roo was giving me stink eye and trying to closer to me and then he tried to peck me and I stuck a flashlight beam in his face and hollered NO a few times. Now he just stands there looking at me.
  5. tiki244

    tiki244 Flock Mistress

    Jan 1, 2008
    This sounds like a case of classical conditioning gone awry.

    In order to fix it,,,,,welll,,,,,,,maybe I would start with no more treats for a while,,,then I would try something similar to what a rooster does when he 'controls' his hens. He willpeck them on the head and/or stand on them. I dont suggest you do that, but try a stick and bop them on the head or back 'lightly' or just 'move' them with the stick. And only give them treats when they behave.

    I have had this problem and by hand feeding I give the well behaved ones a treat and the naughty ones a shove. After a shove they are a bit more shy to come at me with such gusto.

    You can shove a chicken pretty good without hurting it. I dont mean hard, just enough to let them know who is boss.
  6. Swamp Roo

    Swamp Roo Songster

    Apr 22, 2008
    SW FL
    Toss some treats/scratch in one corner, and put bowl down elsewhere while they are distracted. I tend to scatter treats anyway so the more timid birds get their fair share. Getting loud as already suggested would be my bet as well. I'm top chicken in my coop, every once in a while I have to shoo them just as a reminder, but not often. My roo has definitely had a few hard lessons [​IMG]

  7. Thanks everyone. i actually don't give them treats every time my others get them. Mainly because i just don't have the energy to fight my way into their pen.

    When the one Red snapped at my fingers that time, i did yell "No" and swatted her on her bottom. But she just crouched like i was going to mate with her. i am always afraid of hurting them, though. i would hate to shove them and damage their crop, or any other part. i have taken to backing into the pen, kind of shoving back with my foot before putting it down. i think i've trampled a few chicken feet, but trying to get in face forward is harder.

    What i've tried so far with keeping them from ganging up on Grace, is a water pistol. i will sit in there and whenever one of them goes up to confront her, i keep squirting them in the face until they back down. That only works when i'm in there, though.

    It sounds like i need to spend more time in there, working on positive conditioning. Tiki244, i like that idea of shoving away the naughty hens and rewarding the good ones. i'll try that today.
  8. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    Perhaps restraint is called for - restrain their snacks and their legs, wings and beaks.

    If I was attacked when arriving with treats, the treats and I would go right back out the gate.

    We have on this forum someone who understands how to restrain a rooster. He will, in time, calm down and realize who's boss. Dealing with Roosters I've used my gloves backhand on a rooster before. "You, sir, are a cad and scoundrel. Pistols at dawn!"

    The gloves worked but not well (probably should have used a pistol [​IMG]). He did his level best to persuade the hens that I was the dangerous one. They believed him for a time.

    Perhaps you should determine who's the #1 hen and pick her up. After a moment, the other hoodlums should realize what has happened. The next one who acts out, should be picked up and restrained also.

    You probably should have introduced your EE's weeks ago. Perhaps you can take #1 Red Star to the EE's run and see how well she can beat up the 2 of 'em . . . okay, that might not be the best but there's a pecking order and none of the 6 Red Stars want to be on the bottom. Somebody needs to be and, for the sake of peace, order, and your own happiness - it probably should not be your EE. She just can't deal with all 6 at the same time.

    Steve's digits
  9. Thanks Steve - you are right, i should have integrated at least a month ago. It's my fault for not getting this larger coop and pen done in time. i did spend a great deal of time in their enclosure yesterday, finishing up on some work. They saw so much of me they gave up running every time i went in and out. i have now tried talking loudly to them to get them to obey, like when you're trying to train a dog "Down!" "Stay!" "No!" and amazingly, it's working. This morning when i took them their scrambled eggs and oatmeal, i waited until everyone calmed down before i set the dish down. i was able to get it down without incident. Of course, once it hit the ground, they went wild. That's fine.

    Now i just need to continue working with the pecking order. i may try taking the Reds, one by one to the EE pen. Penny has them scared of her. Maybe the one-on-one will give Grace the confidence she needs. She is my largest hen - she just doesn't know it. [​IMG]
  10. Buff Hooligans

    Buff Hooligans Scrambled

    Jun 11, 2007
    Well, I'm a wimp - I don't withhold treats from my Buff Hooligans. When I have to work in their coop or run, I just scatter sunflower seeds around their run. That diverts their attention easily so I can get something done.

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