Chicken Submission Behavior

Free Ranging and Training Chickens...

“Hi, John here from South Africa. We have a mixed flock of about 180 free-range hens, and I have noticed recently what to me, is very odd behavior. The group is made up of three different breeds and each is approximately six weeks apart in age. (Amberlinks, Potcheftroom Koekoeks, and Rhode Island Reds).

I’ve noticed that as soon as we walk though the gate and wander amongst them, as you approach, some of them just “squat” down in front of you. As they sit there, they seem to flatten their back out by extending their wing slightly. They don’t move until you’ve walked past them. It started with the Amberlinks first but now they’re all doing it. (I hope they don’t think that I’m some giant rooster, as we don’t keep any other roosters with them.) Kind Regards,” ~ John Davis

Hi John, this is really interesting, thanks for writing.

I would suspect that your flock is showing submission to you.

In the same way they would “present” themselves to a rooster, they are showing you that they know you’re in charge.

I can’t help but picture the scene looking something like a ruler, walking amongst his subjects.

As he passes, they all bow before him. The fact that they’re spreading their wings slightly reminds me of a curtsey. It’s making me giggle as I picture it in my head as an animated scene; The hens are all dressed in little dresses. Is there any chance you’re wearing a long robe and possibly a crown as you’re tending your flocks? Just kidding.

The fact that they are all doing it now and not just the Amberlinks just shows us how easily behavior can spread among the flock. It’s the reason we need to curb bad behavior quickly (like egg eating) before it spreads among the whole flock.

Anyway John, if you’re having a bad day and you’re feeling disrespected, just go take a walk amongst your “royal subjects” and enjoy their submission as they “bow” to you.

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