Why do my rescue hens obsessively peck footwear?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by HollyWoozle, Jun 25, 2019.

  1. HollyWoozle

    HollyWoozle Songster

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    I’m curious! We have 19 chickens at the moment, 5 of which are ex-battery cage rescue hens who have been with us about a year. These 5 hens will merrily stand and peck your footwear and/or legs all day long, even when there appears to be nothing to gain from it. I have never seen this behaviour in our other chickens or in others we’ve had before, although I’m sure mine are not alone in this habit.

    Does anybody have any clues as to why they do it? I was wondering if perhaps it is a learned behaviour from their days of caged living but I can’t see what that could be (since I hear there is a distinct lack of available footwear in commercial cages ). My mum finds it so aggravating that she gave them their own Wellington boot but it’s just not as exciting when there’s nobody wearing it!
     
  2. Pork Pie

    Pork Pie Flockwit

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    Just surmising, but may be any animal that is kept in captivity to the extent that they are unable to express their natural behaviour leads to ingrained repetitive / obsessive behaviour :confused: polar bears / big cats in captivity most certainly express stress-related behaviour - I wonder if chickens do?
     
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

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    Feeding treats a lot promotes that behavior. My first birds did it. I stopped using scratch to train them, I was a candy dispenser, they figured pulling on pants or feet would drop more.
     
  4. HollyWoozle

    HollyWoozle Songster

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    I was wondering if it could be something along those lines @Pork Pie. They all came from the same set-up. I find it fascinating!
     
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  5. Pork Pie

    Pork Pie Flockwit

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    HollyWoozle likes this.
  6. TooCheep

    TooCheep Chirping

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    I have three hens and one will occasionally stand on my foot and two will occasionally peck at my shoes/pant legs. They generally don't respond positively when I reach down to pet them, so I've been interpreting these as begging for treats.

    Once you give them something positive a couple of times, they quickly associate the behavior with the reward and will become very insistent even if you only reward them rarely thereafter.
     
  7. OCD
    I had a friend pick me up a jap bantam rooster from a livestick auction once. He was a beauty but had always been in a cage apparently. He was totally obsessed with water.
    He would hear the outside faucet or garden hose and come running.
    Start to dance around in excitement and loudly clucking to the hens to "come hither and see what i have for you"
    Its just water....running along the ground......whats the big deal...?
    He did not get that excited about scratch feed or meal worms or any treets....just water.
    Go figure!
     
  8. HollyWoozle

    HollyWoozle Songster

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    Actually my girls love water too, especially if you get some on the floor and they chase it as it runs! That makes more sense to me than pecking the same bit of clean boot over and over but I guess I’ve never lived in a cage!
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    They are always seeking thing to eat, their beaks are like our fingers, we touch to check things out. They will continue to do so unless you break them of the habit.
    Do they have trimmed beaks?
     
    HollyWoozle likes this.
  10. HollyWoozle

    HollyWoozle Songster

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    Yes, their beaks were cut by the farm they were at. It doesn’t bother me that they do it, I am just interested as they will peck the same spot repeatedly when there seems to be no obvious reward.
     
    aart likes this.

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