Why do my chickens peck me?

April 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Chickens

Monday 4-30-2012

Chickens peck at everything, especially bright things. They love red objects. They will eat just about anything whether they should or should not. My coop is insulated with pink rigid board insulation. There are certain small parts which show through, and I had to cover all the insulation, because they will literally eat themselves out of house and home.  


Also, they are definitely lacking in manners, so if you are feeding them by hand, don’t be surprised if they grab a finger. You also have to consider that they have no hands, and many times they peck as a way of exploration.


They also peck to gain status in their pecking order. If you raised them since they were chicks, chances are they have imprinted you as their mother, and they will peck you to show you whose boss. If you want them to stop, you have to show them that you are the top chicken so to speak. As much as I hate to do it, I will give them a light kick in the butt if they peck me, not hard enough to injure, but hard enough to let them know their behavior is unacceptable to me. I found that they were very aggressive in pecking me until I established myself at the top of the pecking order. After that, they have not pecked me since, even if I am on the ground working on their coop.


If you have a rooster or roosters, this pecking dynamic is probably much more of a nuisance. Roosters can be very aggressive. They are simply protecting their hens. If you handle them often when young they are typically more docile. I know of one chicken keeper that will hold down her rooster when he pecks her. This scares him enough for him to back down and leaves her alone.


Some chicken keepers believe that responding to violence with violence only increases their aggressiveness. My personal experience is the opposite. At first they rarely pecked me, and I did not react, because it did not hurt or bother me. Unfortunately, this emboldened them to be more aggressive. This got to be a hassle, because they would rush to attack my boots as soon as I opened their pen area. When I say they, it was really only the top two chickens. After giving the two hens that were getting a little too big for their britches a light but not injuring kick in the butt, they were much more polite. Now they wait by the door politely for me to come in, and when I walk in front of them, they move, as opposed to them being offended that I walked in their space.


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