Submissive hens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Peepthis541, Nov 24, 2008.

  1. Peepthis541

    Peepthis541 Songster

    Oct 25, 2008
    Eugene, OR
    I had an interesting interaction with one of my hens yesterday while working in the chicken yard. One of my light brahmas was getting curious and pecking around some of my building materials, and I put out my hand to pet her, expecting her to run away, but she crouched down and let me pet and scratch her around the head and neck. I thought this was interesting because normally when I walk into the chicken yard, all the hens are pretty skittish.

    I did notice similar behavior a couple weeks ago between the alpha hen and my barred rock, who is smaller and younger. The alpha was chasing after her and instead of continuing to run, the barred rock just crouched down and "let" the alpha give her a few aggressive pecks on the neck before moving on.

    I am curious of the roots of this behavior, if it has to do with the "pecking order" and who they see as the dominant figure in the area.

  2. Buff Hooligans

    Buff Hooligans Scrambled

    Jun 11, 2007
    It's the ol' "Squat". It's what hens do to make it easier for a roo to get the deed done. If they consider you dominant (like a roo would be to the flock), they'll squat for you too.
  3. Maryallison77

    Maryallison77 Songster

    Jul 18, 2008
    Fountain, Florida
    My oldest buff did that the other day too. I always try & pet them & they run, but this time Buffy just laid down and I loved her! [​IMG]
  4. purr

    purr Songster

    Apr 30, 2008
    east freetown, ma
    my leghorn does this for me, I reward her with a back scratch so she doesn't get a complex.
  5. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    If I walk up on one of my hens suddenly, say turn a corner and find her there, she'll automatically go into the squat. Then when she sees it's just me she'll stand up and give me a look that clearly says "oh it's just you, nevermind!" [​IMG]
  6. Matt A NC

    Matt A NC Crowing

    Feb 22, 2007
    Morganton, NC
    This behavior is also a good sign that a new pullet will start to lay soon. From first squat to first egg is normally around 1-4 weeks.

    My laying flock doesn't currently have a rooster with them. Several of these hens squat for me anytime I try to pet them. Most are tame and will stand there if I pet them, but the squat is quite different.

    As stated above it helps the rooster to get on, but it also protects the hen from the weight of the rooster. A sexually aggressive rooster can easily hurt a hen if he doesn't give her the time to squat. I have a couple hens with broke keel bones because of 'AJ'. He went to "freezer camp" after he killed 2 hens and hurt those. He was fine for 2 years, but then just started jumping the hens hard.

  7. jforsness

    jforsness Songster

    Dec 28, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    My Top bird of the pecking order, B Master B, is the first one to assume "the squat", it's so silly looking to see her like that. [​IMG]

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