Why do my chickens want to eat me?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by AshlyMommaWard, Jul 31, 2015.

  1. AshlyMommaWard

    AshlyMommaWard Chillin' With My Peeps

    My main flock of 30 9-16 week old pullets want to eat me. They peck my legs & fingers (if and when I HAVE to reach down) like they want to take a chunk and gobble it up.
    It isn't all of them, none of the younger birds (who were not raised by me, until about 6 weeks old) do it. Not all of my big girls do it maybe 6-8 of them.
    Possible causes?
    1. Too much cuddling/babying as chicks?
    2. Bring them too many (healthy)treats? Like they expect treats and if I dont fork them over I am the treat?
    3. They are lacking something nutritionally that they think my flesh will provide? I feed them grower %18 mixed 75%-25% with gamebird breeder (the only high protein feed I can get locally undmeicated, I feed the rest mixed oppositely to the dual purpose roosters I'm raising for meat)
    5. They're genetically mean birds?

    These are possibilities I've mulled over, but just dont know what the cause is. They are Easter eggers, a production red, cuckoo marans. I have 10 other breeds, that dont partake in the human violence, and more easter eggers who dont.
    They free range every day, all day, and have 24/7 access to feed & water.
    They get along with eachother famously, no bullying or feather plucking/eating.

    They've only just started this in the last week, could it be the pre laying meanness I've read about here on BYC?

    And what on earth do I do about it? I've read tons of threads on what to do about aggressive roosters (although the #1 answer is soup pot, of which I agree) but its just not applicable in this situation.. Yet.. I've tried chasing the offender to show her "I'm top hen" but as soon as I try another will peck me & then I'm trying to tell 4 girls running in different directions that I'm boss... It doesn't work. :/ one EE in particular has had multiple serious lessons and has probably gotten worse. Is there anything I'm doing wrong or can do to correct this?
    Our children currently aren't playing outside except in a small fenced area because our horses are grazing (mowing) the yard currently, but when they're moved back to the pasture & it cools down a bit outside my toddler will be out there, and anyone who hasn't reformed by this will have to be sold (honestly, as a mean chicken, unlikely) or eaten.
    I want to do anything I can to right this situation, as I'm sure it stems fromvsomerhing I've done wrong...I just dont have a clue?

    If I have left out any key details let me know.
    Thank you all so much!
  2. GitaBooks

    GitaBooks Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Jun 23, 2015
    Sometimes, bold, tame birds are more prone to pecking just because they know they can. Mine do it too. My adults peck me when they are really hungry and trying to get me to hurry up, while my chicks peck me purely out of curiosity or maybe just to be a booger. [​IMG]

    1: Likely one cause, since they aren't afraid of you.
    2: I do the same thing, they peck me when I give them treats, and its my fault, but I'm not going to stop. [​IMG]
    3: Probably not the cause
    4: Yes, they could have genetics for it. They can also be more prone to pecking people with freckles, scabs (ouch!), or during hot weather. I have found Marans and RIRs (similar to Production reds) to be out-going and more prone to trying something out like pecking.

    Is it an aggressive peck? Sudden with flaring of the hackles. Curious? Staring for a while and then grabbing. Excited? A mad rush and pecking all at the same time without any thought about it.

    I've never tried anything besides saying ow, which scares my birds and makes them stop. My adults are nervous around me. They come running for treats, but they don't like to be touched, so they generally keep a few feet between us.

    I hope this helps. Best of luck!
  3. megan13

    megan13 Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 19, 2015
    I had a problem like this but only with one super mean hen. After trying a ton of stuff I found the only solution was so wear my tall rubber boots and every time she pecked me I kicked her. Not very hard but hard enough to knock her back. It was very hard for me to do this but I was out of options. But it worked out super well! I had to do a few times before she got the message but now it's been months since I've kicked her and now she's my buddy. She's super sweet and actually wants to be held!
    First you have determine if they behaving aggressively or if they are just curious. And I have no idea how it will work on a bigger scale but before you just blame genetics you may want to try giving them a taste of their own medicine. Hope this helps!
  4. pepparaaraa

    pepparaaraa Out Of The Brooder

    May 4, 2015
    London, UK
    I raised mine from chicks and they peck me too!
    They started with the odd confused freckle etc as chicks but now do it when I try to change feed or water too [​IMG] they are 14 weeks old now and I feel I need to address it before they get too big and it really hurts!
  5. N F C

    N F C doo be doo be doo Premium Member Project Manager

    Dec 12, 2013
    In our mixed flock, the only ones that peck are the 3 Red Sex Link girls. Weird, none of the others (various breeds) peck us.

    I started to just pick up the worst pecking offender and hold her for a while...partly out of self-defense and partly to show her who is boss. She is now a devoted lap sitter and another is well on her way to that point. The third one seems to have let up on the pecking (guess she doesn't dig the lap sitting part).

    Who knows the mind of a chicken? I just decided to look at their pecking as a call for attention, rather than a sign of aggression. [​IMG]
  6. AshlyMommaWard

    AshlyMommaWard Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks everyone! I'm glad I'm not the only one who's gone through this. The two worst offenders both used to be my friendliest girls, the red sex link/production red (in really not sure which) & my most beautiful EE. They are both most definitely bring aggressive the red, Polly, has been smacked (gently) and foit tossed away, this seems to engage her, like challenging a bad rooster for a fight, she will come back a running hackles flared! Jazmine, the EE has a strange foot hatred, like when I walk twords her she will start to run, then turn back and full on attack my feet/legs. What the others do seems more like a curious or hurry up with the treats peck... Or they've learned it from the others, but it's not as serious, since they're not actually out to get me. I think I'll work on Polly & jaz, and see if that will calm the bunch. Honestly they both intimidate me. They will peck when I reach for them, so picking them up is a little scary. :/
    They make me feel like such a big baby, who is afraid of chickens, haha!
    Only about 3-4 of my birds will hop up in my lap &enjoy being pet, none of them are the offenders. But, all 30 birds surround me in a right group when I first walk up to them, expecting treats, so I'm usually imobilized, I've tried bringing a stick or broom, doesn't faze them, since I wouldn't actually wack them, they don't see it as a threat. I will try picking them up and holding them, since violence with these mad girls has only begotten more violence.
    Thanks all!
    If any of you have experienced this pre laying meanness, at what age did it start?
  7. N F C

    N F C doo be doo be doo Premium Member Project Manager

    Dec 12, 2013
    I suppose chickens are like other animals...they can sense when you are afraid of them and will take advantage. I don't chase my pecking ones but when they come close and look like they want to, I bend down and scoop them up and tuck them under my arm, pinning their wings close to their sides. Sometimes I'll even tuck them under my arm so their heads are facing backwards (for some strange reason that really quiets them down). Then I just walk around until they quit squirming. Once they are calm, I keep them closely held, get close to the ground and let them down gently. I don't let them fly out of my hands, I control them until they are on the ground. Sometimes they'll come back for another peck, but rarely...they usually just go about their business.

    The only one I've had that was "mean" was a broody Black Australorp but a broody girl is a whole other animal, lol.
  8. DrTacosMD

    DrTacosMD Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 27, 2015
    Riverside, CA
    When my hens do that I just poke them. They don't peck me now.
  9. Finnie

    Finnie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 27, 2014
    Just remember to wear protective eyewear whenever you go out and think you might be picking chickens up, or even crouching down to their level. Curious chickens peck at everything that catches their attention, especially if it's a shiny round eyeball.

    I think an aggressive chicken wouldn't necessarily aim for an eye, but if their peck landed near the eyes, better to be safe than sorry. It might help you to feel safer when manhandling your flock if you know you have gloves and eye protection on.

    Good luck. I hope you are able to get the aggression settled, because having friendly ones that come close to you (nicely) is one of the fun parts of raising chickens. [​IMG]
  10. Naliez

    Naliez Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 7, 2015
    I poke mine too, or "pssssssst!" and point at them if they get mean. They walk away complaining "bbbbbbbbaaaaawk"... But it works every time. (At least for as long as I'm out there, anyway.) I think it seems to get worse before it gets better around a certain age (around 10 weeks old to lay) because just like regular teens, they're learning their place in the world (a pecking order becomes very important) and they're definitely going to test you. I wouldn't take it personally and just keep spending time with them. sometimes my "agressive" teens have turned out to be the friendliest hens.

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