Why Does My Hen Squat?

Have you ever walked near one of your hens and she suddenly hunkers down to the ground with her wings slightly open? She freezes and squats, not moving? This behavior is no cause for concern! Although it may seem like she is scared or in pain, squatting in this manner is a normal part of rooster/hen behavior.

As I once heard one person say, “Well, she’s easy.” All joking aside, many people assume this behavior means they want to be picked up and are tame. The funny, and kind of bizarre thing is, she actually sees the human as a rooster figure.

Hens squat like this in a submissive posture when a rooster approaches. The rooster sees this as an invitation to mate. He will usually grab her head feathers with his beak, hop on her back, do the deed, and it’s all over in a matter of seconds.

When a hen does this in front of you, it means she sees you as a kind of “rooster” authority. It is hard wired in her DNA, nothing personal.

Some hens are more prone to being submissive than others. They see you coming and will squat down every time. This would be fine time to give her a little pet on the back and gives you the chance to get a good look at her. I often use these opportunities to look over the hen and check for signs of illness. My daughter certainly takes advantage of a hen squatting by picking her up and giving her a quick tote around the yard. Even the most skittish of hens will do this, which does seem to tame them a little over time.

When the hen snaps out of her submissive mood, she almost always jumps up, fluffs her feathers, and gives a good shake. Squatting is a strange, funny, and totally normal part of owning backyard chickens.