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What's up with this hen? Low hen being mean....to ME!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by kuntrychick, Nov 11, 2011.

  1. kuntrychick

    kuntrychick Songster

    Jul 19, 2009
    I have this EE hen that is the lowest of the pecking order....BAD! She kinda stays to herself. If I happen to open the door of the coop & she happens to be in there, she takes off running out real fast clucking loudly (drawing more attention to herself). Then, the roosters go after her having their way with her & even one mean hen gets HER turn with her! [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Well, there's some teenagers (almost 21 weeks old) now that she hangs around a lot, but still stays to herself some & she's head hen with them when she's around them since she's older than them I guess.There's also some almost 11-week olds that I've seen her peck on a few times (maybe makes her feel a little in authority since she's lowest in the pecking order with the older ones).

    Anyway, since she's least in the pecking order, she doesn't get to choose where she wants on the roost. So, she sometimes sleeps on the floor & sometimes in the nest box.

    Well, I've started blocking off the nest box in the evenings, but yesterday afternoon she was in there before I got to it. So, I got her out & held her awhile, talking to her, petting her. Then, I put her up on the roost.

    Well, today she was doing her deal being by herself sitting between the house & the heat pump. When she got out from there, walking around cautiously, neck way up tall like being alert so she'll know if anyone's gonna come bother her, clucking & clucking.

    Then, she actually came over there where I was sitting at the picnic table & got up on top of it close to me, looking at me. Well, I was so surprised! I turned around & looked at her & started talking to her & real fast before I could even think....she PECKED ME RIGHT IN THE EYE!!!! It hurt really BAD! Thank goodness she only got my eyelid!

    My DH came over there & saw about me & scolded her.

    After that, every time she saw me sitting at the picnic table, she would come back over there (by now I had some sunglasses on to protect my eyes [​IMG] ) but she did peck my arm a time or two (luckily had on long sleeves). I got her & held her a while, petting her, talking to her. She made a few noises, sort of a quieter version of the sound she makes when she's getting picked on by the others, but she didn't try to fly away or anything; she stayed in my lap.

    Later, she ate out of my hand & everything! This is VERY unusual for this hen! She is a hen that normally won't let me close to her, much less touch her! I usually can't even give her any treats because she won't even come for them (afraid of the others, I guess). I have to throw them in her direction & hope that she gets it before the other hens run & get it.

    She is molting, or at least I think she is. She is growing back some feathers on her neck & back & not laying right now (did lay 5-6 green eggs a week) Could the molting be the cause of her behavior?

    What is up with her?! I just don't know what to think of this! Did me getting her out of the nest box & talking to her & petting her make her gain some trust in me or something & then her pecking me was her letting me know she's the boss of me or what? Does she think I'm another hen? Is she blaming me for her low pecking order status & getting back at me? Is she trying to have trust in me but testing her limits or leery of me or what? What would cause a low pecking order hen to behave like this?

    I'm looking forward to seeing how she's gonna act tomorrow (but lesson learned....I WILL be wearing sunglasses!! [​IMG] )

    ETA: Sorry so long.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2011

  2. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    Your picking her up likely helped cause this change, yes. And if she's never been in contact with you before like this, then she's likely just curious and isn't pecking out of meanness. Sometimes that's sort of their way of exploring something. You're right to discourage that but don't make too much of a fuss about it.
  3. kuntrychick

    kuntrychick Songster

    Jul 19, 2009
    Well, today the hen was in the coop and as soon as I opened the door, she runs out clucking as usual. Then, she stood around clucking with her neck stretched out on the lookout either for me or to make sure no one was going to bother her.

    I sat at the picnic table. DH and one of his friends were out there talking. DH & I had told the friend about the hen pecking me in the eye yesterday. I guess she spotted me because she came and got up on the picnic table looking at me, walking close to me. I told DH and his friend, "I'm prepared today; I've got my sunglasses on." Right after I got that out of my mouth, the hen pecked my ear!

    I don't know what to do. I mean, she's FINALLY having something to do with me, and she is so picked on by the others I feel sorry for her, so I don't want to scare her off from me. But, at the same time, I want to discourage this bad behavior.

    I got to thinking last night about her and realized that I haven't really paid much attention to her nutrition or made sure that she's eating enough. I mean, I feed all of them, their feed & treats and throw treats her way, but I guess I just assumed she took care of herself like the rest of them. But, since she's so scared & shy & picked on so much, she may not get enough to eat. I haven't really paid much attention to her crop (for one thing, she wouldn't let me close to her!)

    Anyway, while I was sitting out there at the picnic table & her on top of the picnic table, I got a bowl of food & put it there for her to eat on. I also fed her out of my hand. Later, I got her some Greek yogurt mixed with some Flock Raiser and some scrambled eggs. She LOVED it!! I also put a waterer up there for her to drink while she was standing there.

    Later, she came down on the bench of the picnic table and got right up against me & even got up under my arm. Maybe assuming my arm is a wing...lol and getting me to protect her?

    She didn't peck me anymore after the ear peck, but was staring at me and standing a little too close for comfort a couple of times....made me a little nervous.

    Not sure I'm doing the right thing. I want her to like me and be comfortable with me. But, at the same time, I want her to blend in better with the other chickens and not be so shy and scared. I don't want her to feel such a comfort with me that it's the only time she eats is when I feed her at the picnic table.

    What do I do about her?
  4. Woodcox Acre

    Woodcox Acre In the Brooder

    Sep 18, 2011
    A Mt. Valley in Utah
    You have a unique and yet a cute situation there. When I got my first chickens, I had five leghorns and they all did so well together. I supose they were raised together as chicks. A couple of months later my daughter found she had a rooster in her little flock, and she couldn't keep him. Actually he belonged to my grandson Gideon. Each child got to get a chick, and his turne out to be the rooster. As i live in the country and a rooster was no problem i told him I would take him. Well that changed everything. At first the hens really picked on him, but that soon changed and he was after them all the time. He was relentless, especially with one hen. Soon the other hens got after her to, almost like they were jelous. So they were all pecking on the poor thing and soon she had no feathers on the back of her neck,and it was bleeding well yu know what that ment. Well I finally said enough is enough. I gave the Rooster away. Things began to settle right down and all pecking stopped. No more roosters for awhile. I actually love how your chicken took to you ( except for the pecking ) but I supose it was her way of touching you. Cute I think. Good luck with your situation. [​IMG]
  5. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    I can see what you're saying with wanting her to be part of the flock and not depend on you, but that's what you've already been doing and it hasn't worked for her. My only suggestion with that is to find out who the top bully is and separate it for a week. In almost ever case, it's one that initiating the bullying, not just everyone deciding to pick on one of them at the same time. You'd be astonished how much more peaceful the flock can be when a trouble starter is taken out of the equation. I've had to do that more than once. But rather than separate them for a week, I most often have just separated them permanently various ways, depending on how bad they are and whether it's a pullet or a cockerel.

    After a week of being separated though, it resets their status in the flock and might solve the biggest problem.
    Or, just carry on the way you are. I really see little problem with it. If she's happy, and everyone else is happy, I'm fine with it. I know people say to use multiple feeders but my experience has been that if there's 3 feeders, the three at the top of the pecking order will each go to one of them. I'd imagine that if I had 25 birds and put out 10 feeders, it'd be the same. The lower ones still wouldn't be able to eat till the others were full and off out of sight.

    Or, they'll all want one feeder. That feeder will be whatever one the junior birds want to eat out of. And as soon as the littles go to another, there they all go to run them off. And these feeders are all 20 feet apart or more. Eventually though everyone does get to eat at least since I keep food out all the time and don't restrict their food.

    But if I have one that wants or needs special attention, they get it. One even gets to come into the kitchen for a while every day lol. She rarely poops in here so I guess she knows it's my "nest." I realize this type of solution isn't for everyone, especially those for whom the chickens are just livestock. In that case, separation of some kind is much better. I fully understand both points of view.

    I see you understand what the pecking is about now and it looks to be taken care of. She still might peck you out of curiosity. You'll definitely know if she's really being mean with it, and she hasn't so far. She might peck your hand pretty hard when eating out of it but that's because she doesn't know where the bottom of this soft food container really is. They tend to peck hard at first then later learn and not peck so hard when eating out of your hand.

    PS - getting up under your arm is like snuggling under Mom. CUTE! Oh, and I have one hen that LOVES diet coke. I don't let her have it much but if she can get to eye level with me she'll get right in my face wanting some if she sees me with a can.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2011
  6. mulewagon

    mulewagon Songster

    Nov 13, 2010
    My low-ranking hens love to be picked up and carried, and they'll peck my legs hard to get my attention! It's funny that they'll do that to me, but not to the other hens.

    I wear long pants in the pen, and don't sit with chickens at face level. They just don't know about faces, they'll peck anything!
  7. CindyJeann

    CindyJeann Songster

    Mar 29, 2011
    Miller County Arkansas
    It's hard for a chicken to ignore a pupil, it looks too much like a bug. Pupils, freckles, they peck at anything that "might" be edible. I just never let any of the chickens near enough to my eyes to do an damage. And I make sure the kids understand not to let them near their faces as well.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2011

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