Backyard Poultry Forum

Is My Chicken Biting Me or Preening My "Feathers?"
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Author:  Brever [ Thu Dec 20, 2018 2:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Is My Chicken Biting Me or Preening My "Feathers?"

I have a pet leghorn chicken who is over four years old and she has always been very affectionate and loves cuddles and basically she's pretty cool with people.

After her last companion absconded, I brought her a new baby leghorn for a companion. She's outlasted five other chickens at this point; she's always been top of the pecking order (and a lovely gentle leader), but on every other occasion where I've introduced new chickens to her (always in pairs), she's been initially very aggressive, just to make sure her pole position is not taken away, I'm assuming.

This time she has taken this young pullet under her wing (literally), but it seems that she's also suddenly been VERY cranky with me; completely avoiding me EVEN TO ASK FOR FOOD (unheard of). Completely unresponsive.

So I figured I'd let them do their bonding and stay out of the way, but on the three odd occasions I've picked her up since then, she's done this weird "biting" thing on my arm. I initially thought it was a bite, because I recall her not really letting go, but today I had a good look and it almost looked like she was trying to preen her wing feathers but my arm was in the way, like her eyes were rolling and stuff. But she was definitely doing it to my arm.

I'm confused.

She's clearly holding a grudge with me so it would not make sense she's suddenly gone next level friendly. Has anyone had a chicken do this and what on earth does it mean?

Author:  Okaru [ Thu Dec 20, 2018 9:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Is My Chicken Biting Me or Preening My "Feathers?"

I don't have any advice for you. Who ever said chooks were predictable? You have a unique girl who is doing something nobody else understands, but she obviously does and will keep doing it until she thinks of something else to do....... She might be telling you she's upset by losing the predecessors, or she might be telling you to join the flock because she likes you, or she might be simply saying thanks for not making her stay by herself. Who knows? If the two of them are getting on, you are winning. I bet if you just keep being you, she'll eventually get back to being 'her'. Everyone adapts to change differently. :)

Author:  globi [ Mon Dec 31, 2018 4:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Is My Chicken Biting Me or Preening My "Feathers?"

All I know is that when a chicken bites you you know that you have been bitten.
I have a friendly older hen who bites my leg to remind me to hand out her favoured grain. It really hurts. And she knows I will pick her up so she stops biting me, but she loves that. It's just what she does.
And yes, I have had chickens trying to preen my eyebrows.

Author:  Rock'n'Roll_Rooster [ Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Is My Chicken Biting Me or Preening My "Feathers?"

Perhaps she's adopting the 'treat them mean, keep them keen' technique?? :laughing

I hatched out 5 beautiful white Australorp hens about this time last year and ever since they were chickens, they will always come up to me when I sit down and start pecking me. Never aggressively, more out of curiosity I think? They'll come up and start to peck gently at first and if that doesn't get my attention then they can get quite fervent! I think it's probably my fault as when they began doing it as chicks I would always give them pats or pick them up when they started to do it... Whoops!

I suppose it could be worse? I have another black Australorp hen that will wipe her beak on my pants right after she's consumed a 5-course feast on 2 day old kitchen scraps! :doh

I don't think there is much cause for concern, it sounds like your hen is just acting up maybe because she's found a new friend? Hopefully she'll snap out of it soon for you. Nobody can quite justify the way chickens handle things sometimes!

Author:  Gramps_grower [ Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Is My Chicken Biting Me or Preening My "Feathers?"

My Plymouth hens will peck my hands and my toes to let me know they want some tucker when they're around the house.

But when i stick my hand into the nest when one is broody it's most definitely a bite!

Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk

Author:  globi [ Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Is My Chicken Biting Me or Preening My "Feathers?"

Agree, chicks peck at their mum to ask for feed, and mine peck at me when they think they should get a treat.
When they bite they BITE.

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