Is this Love?

When I go out in the garden, my chickens follow me around (unless they get bored or are taking a bath). If I stand still all of them will come and peck at my clothing. At first I thought they were going after lint or stray threads, but I’m sure my clothes aren’t THAT dirty. Their pecking is pretty much constant.

If I’m standing up they go for my trouser legs.

If I’m squatting down, they sneak up behind me and peck at my back.

Frank is just as tasty (he’s also a nice napping stop).

Why are they doing this? It doesn’t seem like normal chicken behaviour to me. They rarely peck each other (unless yogurt has been splattered when everything is fair game). So is this a grooming ritual? A sign of respect? A demonstration of love? What????

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About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: www.laurarittenhouse.com for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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19 Responses to Is this Love?

  1. pattigail says:

    I am not sure why they do it, but my girls are the same. They are in a run because I am too afraid of predators to let them free range so I thought maybe it was because they were bored or something. It seems like they want attention or food….not sure. Glad to hear yours do it as well. Did you raise yours from chicks? I did and they have always known me as the bringer of food and treats so that could be part of it. Part of the joys of chickens I guess. Patti

    • I haven’t raised mine from chicks – they were 16 weeks when I got them but I’ve spent a lot of time with them. It took them a couple of weeks to get used to me (I sat in their run and read a book for a couple of hours every day before letting them free range) but now they seem to really like me. I prefer to think it is a sign of affection, not a hunt for food. When they think I have food they jump and flap and try to get to my hands. A feeding frenzy is a very different mood to this pecking.

  2. vuchickens says:

    mine do that too. i always thought it was because they know where their food comes from, so they’re hoping i have something good on my person, but maybe it is somewhat affectionate. or natural curiosity? i know they are especially interested if i’m wearing anything red or pink. they were always after my painted toenails this summer.

  3. I think its all about food, they think you are synonymous with food and that’s why they are interested in you.

    • If it was just about food, they wouldn’t abandon food to peck my clothing. Sometimes I’ve got pellets in my hand and they snack on those then turn and nibble me. And the way they nap at our feet (sometimes on our feet if we sit still long enough) makes me pretty sure it’s flocking behaviour, not a hope of a free meal.

  4. Maybe they are little kisses…

  5. Coop Poop says:

    It’s love. A clear and unambiguous sign of affection.

  6. I like the little kisses idea. Definitely little kisses. Mine don’t do that. Maybe I can teach them 🙂

  7. cute little chook kisses?

  8. spiceandmore says:

    Ha ha, that is so funny to read. Mine do that too – they peck at my toes though so I have to make sure I wear covered shoes when I go near them. They only do it to me too. I always think it them having a whinge and expressing their frustrations – all directed at me since I am the mother figure in the family!

    • I’m sure mine aren’t whinging because when they’re upset, they make a lot of noise and race around. Pecking of my person is a quiet, calm thing. Which is part of why I like it. My friends feel a bit differently though. We had friends over for a lunchtime barbecue recently and the woman wore sandals. Rosie just wouldn’t leave her feet alone and we ended up locking the chooks in their run. Partly because of the toe pecking but really because they decided to fly up on the table – 3 times. That was a new (and really irritating) trick!

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