Chickens have a reputation for being easily flustered and scared. Most of us have either caused chickens to scatter and run when we approach them or have seen other people or animals cause them to do so. However, for those who own chickens, there is another behavior that they may have experienced, which is the chickens chasing them around, instead. So, why exactly do chickens chase people?
There are three main reasons why chickens may chase you. They may be hungry, they may just be enjoying your company, or they may see you as a threat to them and the rest of the flock. Most likely chickens will chase you because they hope to be fed.
It can be a little disconcerting to be chased around by your feathered friends, especially if they are doing so in a threatening manner. After all, nobody likes to be pecked or worried about being pecked. Sometimes your chickens may just be following you around and getting underfoot. Why does any of this happen, and what are some ways to handle it? Read on to find out!
Why Do My Chickens Chase Me?
As mentioned, the main reasons your chicken is chasing you are hunger, aggression, or because they like you. Let’s explore each of these reasons a little more in detail and some things to keep in mind if it is happening.
Chasing for Food
If it is clear that your chickens are chasing you around for food, you may worry that they are not getting enough nourishment. However, what is likely the case is that they have just come to associate you with food and are excited. Chickens love to eat and do it throughout the day, grazing in the yard eating bugs.
To keep them out of your way if you need to get things done, you can always distract them with a handful of feed when you approach their coop.
Chasing to Show Affection
When it comes to affectionate pets, chickens may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, many chickens do love people, and they will show this by running up to greet them.
Unfortunately, this can often be seen as an act of aggression by those who are not used to chickens. The best way to handle it is to remain calm and avoid running as they will continue to chase you.
Chasing out of Aggression
Generally speaking, it is not the hens who are likely to chase you because they are trying to attack, but roosters will because they tend to be more territorial and protective of the hens in the flock.
However, even among roosters, it is not a hard and fast rule that they are chasing you out of aggression. If they are, then there are a few things you can do to ward off attacks:
- Stay calm. A rooster is less likely to see you as a threat if you are not acting erratic or frightened.
- Get to know them and spend time with them. The more familiar they become with you, the more they will realize that you mean them no harm and they will calm down.
- Make yourself bigger. Many people do this by carrying a large coat or a bag out in front of them.
- Pick them up. This establishes dominance. Be sure to have all your skin covered up to avoid any pecks.
What Does it Mean When a Chicken Follows You?
Sometimes chickens just follow their humans around. This is a bit different from when they are chasing you, though sometimes the reasons overlap, such as if they are hungry or because they love you and want to be near you.
The following are some other reasons that your chickens might be keeping close by and following you around:
- They are being curious. This is often especially true of free-range chickens who have explored the yard on their own. If they see you wandering around, doing different things, it is something new for them, and they want to know what is going on.
- They see you as their leader. If they see you every day, then they will come to recognize you by sight. Furthermore, if you are the one who feeds them, then you are their provider. Even though many flocks have a bird leader, they might see you as their leader instead.
- They are playing with you. Chickens are a lot smarter than people realize, and they like to play with their people. Following them around is one form of that.
- They are teaching their young. Chickens are good parents to their chicks. In addition to teaching them what the safe things are to eat, they also “show them the ropes,” so to speak. Part of that is knowing who their leaders are, including their human leaders.
- They may be going through a phase. Just as humans change and display different behaviors and attitudes as they grow up and mature, so do chickens. One of the common behaviors during a chicken’s adolescence is to stay nearby their humans.
If you want your chickens to follow you around and recognize you as their leader and friend, then the best thing you can do is make sure to spend a lot of time with them. As you do, your affection and trust for each other will grow.
Chickens may have a reputation for being scared and simple-minded, but they are quite gutsy, clever, and affectionate. One of the behaviors that most clearly shows their intelligence is when they chase humans or follow them around their yard or the coop.
Often, chickens will chase their humans because they are hungry, as a sign of affection and recognition, or because they feel threatened.
When it comes to why they follow humans around, it can also be because they are hungry or to show affection.
Some other reasons for following you around could be because they are curious about what you are doing, they are trying to teach their young about the world, they are playing with you, or they are going through a phase.