Speckled Sussex sudden change in attitude

ash11

Chirping
7 Years
Aug 14, 2012
70
1
94
PA
I have a Speckled Sussex pullet who is friendly but shy. Usually if I pick her up she squaks like it's the end of her world! If I kneel down she will come up to me, but as soon as I put my hand out she runs. She is at the bottom of the pecking order. She is now almost 20 weeks and for about 1 week has been squatting everytime I get near her. The problem is that for about 3 days when I go in the coop, she walks right up to me and jumps at my leg(like she wants me to pick her up) and she will try to peck at my face when I bend over to feed them. She follows me around doing this the whole time I'm down there. As soon as I put my hand out she squats. I know she is about to lay anytime now, is that why she is suddenly so brave and a little crazy?!
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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Colorado Rockies
That and she's growing into her personality. I have four SS, and they're the most curious and physically active members of the flock. I think it's in the breed.

I do believe she wants attention from you but is conflicted. Squatting is a sign she wants to be mated and also wants attention. Try placing your hand on her back when she squats, and the other hand on her breast, then pick her up and hold her close. When she squawks and carries on, whisper, "shhhh" in her ear. She could use some taming and calming. This might accomplish it.

And please remember to keep your face away from that beak! Getting pecked in the eye is painful.
 

ash11

Chirping
7 Years
Aug 14, 2012
70
1
94
PA
Thank you I will try that. I try not to put my face too close to any of them I'm paranoid about getting face pecked! I guess I'm just surprised that she's acting this way since she was always so scared of everything.
 

ash11

Chirping
7 Years
Aug 14, 2012
70
1
94
PA
So all day today I kept going down to the coop and everytime I opened the door she was right at my feet. I picked her up and she was quiet and seemed happy. I carried her around and pet her. As soon as I put her down and walked away, she would run right back to me and if I ignored her, she would peck me. Her new behavior has me stumped. I can't believe how calm she is now when I pick her up when before she would squak and try to get away. I hope she lays an egg soon then maybe she will go back to how she was before.
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
22,914
32,481
1,102
Colorado Rockies
Personality changes in chickens aren't uncommon at all. Lots of things can change behavior. I've had some pretty dramatic personality changes in my flock. For instance, one Brahma hen was always very timid and was always bullied and picked on by the others. She was bald for much of her early life. Then I decided to keep her separate so her feathers could grow back, and after a couple months of this, she returned to the flock with amazing, new-found self confidence, and to this day, she now stands up for herself.

Some hens are more in need of human attention than others. Some come to be addicted to being held and cuddled. Recently, a couple of older Wyandottes that have always hated to be touched now act much like your pullet, suddenly craving attention and affection. Today, another Wyandotte, who has always pecked me when I go to touch her, has suddenly begun to hover closely when I'm showing attention to the others. I reached over and brought her in close for a cuddle, and she submitted to it for the first time in her four years of life, even to the point of relaxing and almost falling asleep.

Some people mistake a hen coming up behind them and pecking them on the legs as aggression. Most of the time this is a signal that this hen wants you to show her some attention. Even my rooster does this when he wants a hug. It's just a gentle tapping, and is in no way aggressive. When I bend down and draw him in for a hug, he melts into my arms and almost falls over in ecstasy.

Chickens can be among the most affectionate of all animals if only people paid attention to their signals.
 

ash11

Chirping
7 Years
Aug 14, 2012
70
1
94
PA
I never thought that chickens would suddenly change their personalities. Thanks for sharing your experience with me. That's amazing how after 4 years your wyandotte suddenly wants attention! This info was helpful now if any of my other birds change their personality I won't be so surprised!
 

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