In looking at various threads on the backyardchickens.com website the main consensus seems to be that Gretchen's behavior is dominance based and that he should be culled from the flock. Well, that's just not how we roll around here - Gretchen is family and we just don't go around killing our family members. We just don't. And besides, it's not like Gretchen isn't good for anything. He does protect most of the ladies. Penny is the notable exception - we're not sure if it's because she is older than the rest of the chickens and so didn't grow up with Gretchen and his crew or if it is because she is sporting spurs on her legs - but whatever the reason, Penny is definitely lowest down in the pecking order and frequently gets picked on or chased by Gretchen and several of the other hens.
Aside from his lack of protective instincts towards Penny, Gretchen is quite protective of all the other hens and no one is too big for Gretchen to go up against when it comes to someone bothering his ladies. Axel, the largest of the three dogs, grew up with chickens and cows on a farm somewhere before we rescued him from the shelter so he generally leaves the chickens alone. Scout and Molly, however, are another story. Scout thinks that the chickens are endlessly fascinating toys of some sort and they only want for the proper persuasion to get them to join in a rousing game of chase. Molly will chase almost anything that a) moves and b) is smaller than her. Being a chihuahua mix not many things fall under category b, although she will join Scout if he decides to chase the chickens. The chickens, for their part, squawk and flap their wings and tear around the yard in a highly disorganized manner that often leads them back into the path of the dogs. Hearing this commotion, Gretchen races to the rescue. He flies into the dog run and heads straight for whatever dog is closest and slams into their side, effectively drawing the attention away from the hens in order to give them time to make their escape from the dog run. The party is generally over at that point. The hens are gone and none of the dogs wants to tangle with Gretchen the attack chicken so for now the good outweighs the bad and Gretchen is staying where he is, "mean" or not.
|Gretchen, our attack chicken|