Weird Pacing Behavior

Orit

Songster
10 Years
Jun 21, 2011
108
77
176
Philadelphia, PA
This morning I opened the door to the run to let the girls free-range. Typically they all go charging out at top speed. This morning, most did this, but 3 stayed behind and were at the back "wall" of the run, packing back-and-forth frenetically, vocalizing (not loudly), and running their beaks along the hardware cloth. They kept this up for a good 5-10 minutes. Finally 2 exited and went back to normal chicken behavior. The last one kept it up. So I got close, she ducked close to the ground like the laying hens often do, I picked her up and put her down by the door. She then ran out the door and started free-ranging as if nothing had happened. It was so weird. Anyone have any idea what this was about?? While it was happening, the others were happily free-ranging in the yard.
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
32,005
259,415
1,642
NY Southern Tier
My Coop
My Coop
Did you have anything different with you? Carrying anything? Wearing anything different?
I went into my chickens pen one day to water the plants around the coop, then casually walked into the run to check the feed trough. I was still carrying the water can. One of my pullets was behaving exactly as you described, frantically running along the back of the run. The rest of the flock was out of the run in the pen. I wasn't even thinking about the watering can I was carrying. She was terrified of it. Once I left with the can, she was fine again.
 

ValerieJ

Straw parade on snow day
Premium Feather Member
Jul 24, 2016
10,552
63,209
1,277
Washington State
Did you have anything different with you? Carrying anything? Wearing anything different?
I went into my chickens pen one day to water the plants around the coop, then casually walked into the run to check the feed trough. I was still carrying the water can. One of my pullets was behaving exactly as you described, frantically running along the back of the run. The rest of the flock was out of the run in the pen. I wasn't even thinking about the watering can I was carrying. She was terrified of it. Once I left with the can, she was fine again.
That happened here too when I went out in a red poncho on a particularly rainy day. They must have thought I was a large bird.
 

Jurassic Wolf

Songster
Jun 27, 2018
159
155
111
NJ
Hi, my chickens used to do this too when they were in their smaller coop. It was there way of telling me to let them out immediately . Now the only time they do it is when they forget that they need to walk out of the door and not walk through hardware cloth lol. It's nothing to worry about, it's just that chickens don't always understand that the hardware cloth won't simply disappear
 

Acre4Me

Crossing the Road
Nov 12, 2017
6,415
20,096
867
Western Ohio
I agree with @DobieLover - maybe something new and scary.

Our rooster despises shoelaces...very scary, so a constant issue in the winter bc my winter barn boots have laces going up the boot. This summer, I was putting up shade cloth on the outside of the corner of the run. Our run is 50’ long and I was at the SE corner and the rest were in the middle of the run to the north side. The rooster sounded some of the loudest alarm calls I had ever heard, pullets and hens racing away from the scary shade cloth (light tan in color). When our more skittish hens are let out of the run, the gate makes a triangular dead end bc it can’t sit flush to the fence and they get stuck. They race back and forth in this small area, never figuring out to go just a half-foot farther to get past the end of the gate to go around bc they are in flight mode. The less skittish hens and pullets figure it out or never get stuck in the first place.

So, my guess is something new/different/scary causing their flight reaction. They are prey animals after all.
 

Orit

Songster
10 Years
Jun 21, 2011
108
77
176
Philadelphia, PA
No - nothing different at all. I was wearing clothes that I always wear, my rain boots that I always wear, not carrying anything... I guess the explanation of something scaring them makes the most sense. I know there are occasional night predators that come by (raccoons, a fox), but very infrequently. It may be that a predator had been nearby recently before I came out into the yard? It was so weird though! The rest of the flock bolted into the yard (as they always do) when I opened the door. It was just so weird seeing the 3 of them so disoriented, or whatever it was that they were experiencing. They all seem fine now - have been free ranging for a couple of hours so I guess all is good. Thanks for the feedback and your insights!! I have kept chickens for several years, but I'm always confronted with new situations every year when I think I've seen it all.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom