Chicken ownership is fun and rewarding. Chickens are relatively easy to take care of, and they’re incredibly lovable. But there are times where chickens act in ways we can’t quite understand. One of these behaviors is stomping their feet.
Why do chickens stomp their feet? Reasons range from submission and trust to aggression and health problems.
Let’s break these down to further understand why chickens stomp their feet. Read this article if your chickens’ peck at your feet, and you want to know what causes the behavior.
5 Possible Reasons Why Chickens Stomp Their Feet
If you own a flock of chickens, you may have noticed that they stomp their feet from time to time. Here are five reasons as to why that is:
Show of Submission
Has your chicken ever run up to you, stomped her feet, and poofed out her wings before squatting beside your feet? Your chicken might very well be looking for affection!
Chicken experts call this behavior the “submissive squat,” wherein chickens bend their legs, crouch, and flatten their wings and backs when you’re around. They see you as the “alpha” or “rooster” chicken and want you to pet them.
Show of Dominance
On the other side of the spectrum, stomping may also be a sign of aggression. You’ll be able to tell the difference between a submissive stomp and an aggressive stomp by your chicken’s body language quite easily.
Roosters see themselves as the “protectors” of their hens, so they might not take kindly to anything that frightens, threatens, or stresses them out. Therefore, they’d stomp their feed to show you that they’re going to attack if you take another step!
If your rooster is stomping at you, just normally go about your chores without paying him much attention.
If he hurts you, it’s best to train that aggression out of him. We’ve included a section on how to train aggressive roosters and hens in this article, so scroll further down to read the tips we have for such matters!
If your hen starts stomping her feet, it might be because she sees you as a threat and wants to scare you away to protect her chicks. Like roosters, hens attack if they feel threatened. Although they don’t react as violently as roosters do, they can still do a considerable amount of damage if you’re not careful.
When a hen stomps at you, slowly reach over her and pet her back to show you’re not going to hurt her or her chicks. You can also try to carry her around for specific periods of time, so she knows you’re her boss and powerful enough to hurt her if you wanted to but won’t.
Egg Laying Maturity
If you notice your hens stomping followed by squatting, this may be a sign that your hen is ready to lay eggs. Chances are, she’ll lay her first egg a couple of days after she begins to squat!
Mites or Insect Bites
Chicken mites are incredibly small creatures that hitch a ride on your chicken’s fluffy, clean coat to feed on his blood. They’re a relatively common problem that affects most chickens once in a while. It doesn’t always mean that your caring practices are bad, so don’t be overwhelmed with guilt if your chicken has mites!
Mite bites are extremely itchy to chickens, so they may stomp their feet in a futile attempt to get rid of the itch or release some of the frustration they feel.
If you think your chicken has mites, some of the signs you need to look out for are as follows:
- Dirty or ragged-looking feathers
- Decreased activity or listlessness
- Changes in appetite
- Drop in egg production
- Weight loss
- Redness or scabs on the skin
- Flat, oval bodied insects near nests or in structural crevices
Luckily, mites aren’t difficult to treat. First, use strong-smelling herbs in your coop, like lavender, bee balm, calendula, and mint, to name a few, to prevent further infestation.
You can then put several cloves of garlic or garlic juice in your chicken’s diet to kill off these parasites. You can also add a naturally occurring type of sedimentary rock called Diatomaceous Earth (DE) to your chicken’s dust bathing area, even directly onto their features, to kill these mites.
If it’s not mites, your chickens might be fighting mosquitoes or other insects. They’d stomp their feet in their coops to kill these annoying creatures so they can go back to living their lives in peace.
How to Tame Aggressive Chickens
To reduce the tyranny your chickens impose upon you and your flock; you’ll need to take some defensive steps. If you’re dealing with aggressive chickens, here are some tips for taming them!
From the 16th to the 20th week, young chickens, especially roosters, go through a period where they become more aggressive. New hormones race through their bodies as they reach sexual maturity, resulting in bold and/or defensive pecking, stomping, and the like.
To establish dominance, the first thing you should do is to place yourself at the top of the pecking order without engaging in aggression yourself. This means no stomping, kicking, and roughly pushing your chickens away.
Doing so not only makes you the enemy in your chicken’s eyes, but she’ll most likely interpret your behavior as a challenge. As if you’ve invited him to fight one-on-one! You, or even a child, can get hurt. Don’t encourage his behavior by acknowledging his threats. Show him that his actions don’t phase you.
Go on the Offensive
If ignoring your aggressive chicken doesn’t work, and she begins to seriously hurt you, you’ll have to go on the offensive.
The most important way to establish dominance is to stand your ground. Similar to backing down from an aggressive dog, backing down from a chicken will make her feel as if she’s established dominance over you.
There are three ways to “attack” your chicken. This includes:
At the first sign of attack, reach down, grab your chicken by the feet, turn him upside down, and tuck him under your arm. Ignore his squawking and struggle. Hold him like you would hold a football: firm but secure. Don’t forget to wear gloves so he won’t peck or scratch your hands!
Go about your daily business while he’s tucked under your arm. Do this for about 10 minutes or so until he acknowledges your power. Once he understands you can subdue him easily, he’ll have to rethink his position in the flock and stop fighting you.
When the 10 minutes are up, gently release your chicken. Keep your eye on him as he might come back to peck at you with renewed vigor. Every time he attacks, grab him with the same hold until he leaves you alone and respects your leadership. You’re the boss. He’s the follower.
Run Them Down
When I say run them down, I don’t mean this in a literal sense! The idea is to walk right through them without stopping so they’ll step away.
To do this, take one large step into the chicken’s space while maintaining eye contact. Don’t be afraid, and even if you are, don’t run or move away from him. He needs to move first.
If he drops his wings and spreads them slightly, preparing for an attack, you do the same. Spread your arms, glare at him, and take a step into his space. This will intimidate your chicken, and he’ll back off.
Teach Them Respect
There are several ways to teach chicken respect. For example, while you’re feeding your other chickens treats, feed him last. Don’t cuddle, pet, or baby him.
Some farmers suggest grabbing onto the chicken’s comb and force his head onto the ground until he stops struggling. Personally, I recommend against this method as it may hurt the chicken’s neck, but the option is out there.
If you’re dealing with an aggressive rooster, lock him up in a “chicken prison” to prevent him from mating with the hens when you’re present.
Chickens stomp their feet because of a multitude of things. It could be a way of showing submission or a way of showing dominance and aggression towards you and your flock.
If your chicken is stomping his feet, it’s essential to understand the reason why early on so you can act accordingly. Good luck!