Why does my hen wag her tail feathers when she sees my dog and me?

Asked August 18, 2014, 4:33 PM EDT

I have a hen that is very attached to me and my dachshund. She is totally dominated by the rest of the flock. Whenever she sees me and the dogs, she wags her tail feathers. Is this tail wagging a sign of happiness, or does she think she is a dog?

Cowlitz County Washington

2 Responses

I have not personally seen such behavior, but I asked a poultry behaviorist in California what his opinion is. This is his reply:
"I don't think anyone has ever looked at tail wagging in chickens before. This is a first for me too! I looked up tail wagging online, and from the descriptions people post, and the one you sent, I would think it is probably a displacement behavior. It is just something some chickens do when they are stimulated (either excited or nervous) ... like a coping mechanism for the stimulation."
Richard Blatchford

Thank you for your response. I have been around thousands of chickens, my aunt and uncle were the second biggest egg producers in Oregon many years ago. This hen is extremely bright and her behavior is out of the norm at times. Thank you again for your time. If you have any other thoughts please feel free to contact me. Jackie Collins Kelso, Wa. Whistlerskeep@cni.net