Why do hens crouch when approached?

It is fairly common for a hen to crouch to let another hen mount her as if it were a rooster. Occasionally if you approach your hen she may squat down as well. Just what is going on when your hen exhibits this behavior?

A hen mounting a hen is social, not sexual, behavior. If there’s a rooster in the flock he is almost always the dominant bird.  Before mating a hen crouches low to the ground and slightly spreads her wings enabling him to climb on and mate. The crouching posture also signifies submission. In an all-female flock a submissive hen will go into a crouch and be mounted by a female higher in the pecking order. The dominate hen is asserting her place in the pecking order and not mating.

Large breed hens seem more likely to crouch when a human is near than light breed counterparts. Sometimes a person can slowly approach an Orpington or Brahma and hover over her, causing her to crouch. She’s telling you that you’re the boss. It’s often easy to reach down and pick up a crouching hen.

A hen that mounts another hen remains female and will continue to keep her feminine characteristics and lay eggs.  So don’t be concerned – this behavior is absolutely normal and does not mean that something is wrong with your hens!

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