Stop pecking my hand so hard!!! Please!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ChickyChooky, Feb 23, 2013.

  1. ChickyChooky

    ChickyChooky In the Brooder

    Hi, Everyone!

    I have a lovely W/C Frizzle Black Polish pullet (21 wks old), Frizzie, who is very friendly but has the annoying habit of pecking the treats from my hand very hard. I've had her since she was 12 wks old. At times, she pecks so hard, she accidentally, nips my skin. It isn't that painful but when she is fully grown, my hand may have a different opinion!

    I believe that she does this because when I got her, her crest fell over the tip of her beak so she couldn't really see properly. I can just imagine that she probably was guessing where the food was from sound and smell alone! Can you imagine ....... "Oooh! I heard that! Sounds like food. The others are pecking! Gotta get in there fast!...... Ah ha! Here it is! Grab quickly! Don't want to miss out!" Poor thing! The weight of her crest was that big, that she couldn't hold her head up properly! Poor Frizzie kept dropping her head down. Then, gallantly, would thrust her head up to hold her head up. Then, down again, her head would come! And up again, etc. After I clipped it all back, her head bobbing reduced but it took weeks before she got out of the habit of bobbing her head up and down! Actually, it's only just stopped since I clipped her crest again and clipped even more off this time.



    I've tried giving out a little cry whenever she pecks my hand (full of grated cheese treats, of course) to put her off, but that didn't seem to make any difference. Not until I would prod her with a finger after I gave out a little "Ouch!" cry. I would have thought that she would, finally, put two and two together, but she just seems confused and backs off for a few seconds. Then, carefully, she returns and cautiously starts pecking for her treats with the others around my hand, but just as hard! Sheesh! This has been going on for quite a few weeks. One would've thought that she would've caught on by now!

    When I first started clipping her head, Frizzie, was a bit of a wriggler. Then, I think she realised that she could see because of what I was doing and appeared to relax a little more. Unless, of course, she was just fed up with my very patient and continual persistance! Lol! The first time that I clipped their crests, I had someone hold them for me. The second time, I tried by myself. I think they all realised what I was doing and didn't wriggle as much as the first time, so I succeeded. Gee! I DO get sidetracked, don't I! Tee hee!

    Anyway, .............
    Frizzie has a lovely nature otherwise. She'll follow me around the coop and hang around me for 95% of the time when I'm sitting on my stool. The stool is where I sit to give them their treats or just watch them. Frizzie is a real glutton when it comes to the cheese treats so I have to distract her or keep moving my hand so the others can get a look in.

    Anyway, is there anyone who has any ideas how to get Frizzie out of this habit? I can't think how else to do it other than what I've tried already. Well, other than holding her on my lap, which she doesn't mind at all, and hand feeding her the cheese treats on her own. I do give her a positive response when she pecks my hand a little more gently.... but it ain't often!!



  2. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I admire you for your focused efforts to try to get to know and understand your sweet little Polish girl. I think you're definitely on the right track. Keeping her crest trimmed will be a big help.

    I've noticed that most of my hens, there being fourteen of them, will stab frantically at my hand when I'm handing out treats. Such is the nature of competition. They know they need to be fast and furious if they're going to end up with anything.

    Frizzie has learned that since she doesn't see well, she has to make up for it by being intense. You've already reached the conclusion that she requires frequent hair cuts and individual attention. If you devote some time each day to feeding her from your hand without her needing to compete with the others, I think you'll see her calm down after a while.

    Try wearing padded gloves for awhile so your reaction to her pecking doesn't distract from the training. Feed treats slowly, calmly. The goal is to reward good behavior, and not reward the bad. So don't continue feeding treats after she delivers harsh pecks. A finger peck on her head would be the same as an alpha hen reprimanding her for unacceptable behavior, so you might try that when she drills your hand.

    Try e-mailing this chicken trainer [email protected] Tell him you are a BYC member. He's had huge success in training chickens with all sorts of problems. He can tell you exactly what to do to get Frizzie trained to dial back the beak action.
    1 person likes this.
  3. dracoe19

    dracoe19 Songster

    May 31, 2011
    Warrenton, Virgina
    I admire your persistence to train her to be gentle. I have some chickens that are rough like her and others that are very gentle. I just figured some don't know their own strength or are just super eager lol.
  4. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    I agree with giving her a finger peck to the head accompanied by chicken Ba-gawk, or whatever the others say when injured. That along with stopping the treats till she behaves might help but, she is afterall a chicken. One can only hope.
  5. ChickyChooky

    ChickyChooky In the Brooder

    Very sound advice, Azygous. Thank you for your reassurance and the link.

    From the sounds of it, I must be lucky for Frizzie to be the only one who does that! All in all, I have 15 chickens, who I feed treats in two lots first thing in the a.m. Maybe that's why they don't feel as if they're in too much competition. The younger ones arelet out and given treats first: Silkies, one Silky-X, one DB Plymouth Rock and the Polish pullets.

    Ever since I introduced the last addition to the flock, the Polish chickens, the rest of the flock won't let me stroke them whilst giving them their treats. So, I decided to back off until they sorted out their new pecking order. And, yes. I didn't introduce them immediately. I left them in the mini-run inside the coop so they could all see each other and get used to one another. Then, a few days later, I let them out with the rest of the flock. Anyway, even the ones who loved to be stroked are still being a little standoffish. Yet, when I put them to bed at night, they are quite happy for me to pick them up, talk to them (they even softly talk back) and give them a cuddle each before they're put in their proper or prospective coops. Yep! All fifteen of them! I'm crazy, I know! They all get a cuddle every night! Occasionally, I just give a few of them a few strokes if I don't have to move them but I try to make sure that every one gets the same attention each night! Lol!. I think that they're just too tired to complain! But, with all the peeping, chortling, soft clucking, and soft trilling going on in response to my cuddling them, well, they appear to be loving it!

    Anyway, it looks like I'll have to go back to giving them their treats in the morning individually like I used to but it's very time consuming, of course. Maybe I'll just do a few each day to remind them that's it's an okay feeling to be held.

    As regards Frizzie, yes, you seem to agree that I should give her the individual attention. So, I will do that but I will also follow up with that link.

    Thank you,

  6. ChickyChooky

    ChickyChooky In the Brooder

    Thank you, dracoe19,

    How many chickens do you have? I, actually, let out half the flock out at a time to reduce the competition tendency. Maybe that might settle them down a bit. Have a look at my previous reply to "azygous". You might find it helpful. Though, I might just be plain lucky!

    And, yes. Sometimes, they don't know their own strength and are super eager, I'm sure! Lol!

    ChickyChooky [​IMG]
  7. ChickyChooky

    ChickyChooky In the Brooder

    Actually, it's a "finger peck" to the body with an appropriate sound! Lol! As you say, she is, after all, a chicken. But, nevertheless, I can see that their ('hrrmm!) intelligence does differ between each chicken let alone their innate tendencies of their breed instincts. As you say, "one can only hope!" One will never find out unless one tries!

    You're funny! You call yourself "drumstick diva", yet your avatar is a pic that looks like an "egghead". You've definitely got a great sense of humour!

    Nice to meet you,

    ChickyChooky [​IMG]

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