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Pecking Order

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I have 4 chickens that will be a year old in April. They are awesome. They USED to be so loving. My Easter Egger is coming out of a molt ... I thought she was too young but I guess not. My 2 Wyandotte have been bullying her sad.png Today I was tossing black oiled sunflower seeds around as a treat and every time she would start to eat them, one would come over and she'd run off. It breaks my heart. I've watched them peck her bottom ... but she isn't showing any wounds or feather loss.

How long will this last. Will she ever come up from the bottom of Pecking order? I just hate it.
post #2 of 9

Coming out of a molt can be hard. Unfortunately someone will always be at the bottom of the pecking order. It's just the normal process and life of a chicken. They understand it, while sometime it's hard because we view it with human emotions.

post #3 of 9

You have accounted for the breeds of three chickens in your descriptions. Is there also one other EE? Or a third breed?

 

Often a chicken of a single breed in a flock will get singled out for bullying? Yes, it sometimes appears chickens are "racist". It's more likely that they see she is different and inferior in some way, though.

 

Is the victim particularly docile and timid? Does she show fear and run away when approached by these Wyndottes? Is the victim sick perhaps? How is she behaving? Does she spend a lot of time stationary with her tail held down? Does she sit for long periods facing a wall or corner?

 

Check her over for injuries or disabilities. This is a prime cause of bullying. Chickens often notice an injury or infirmity before we humans catch on. The flock may try to drive a chicken with a defect out of the flock.

 

A lot of time though, it's simply the pecking order arranging itself according to the fittest and strongest. A very timid chicken will get relegated to the bottom rank. They are the last to eat, and they have to get out of the paths of any higher ranking chickens.

 

If the bullying doesn't settle down, if there's one bully in particular, then you may be able to do some management and help the pecking order resolve in a more peaceful order by segregating either the bully or the victim. This should only be done as a last resort as it often causes more problems than it solves.

post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you for responding. My 4th chicken is a Rhode Island Red and she doesn't bully at all. Just my 2 Wyandottes. Gertie (my EE) was never timid before ... she was the friendliest of all of them. She did start squatting for me again yesterday so I think she is starting to feel better. Just makes me mad to see them act so mean. I'm glad this is normal. So things may go back to how they were?

I checked and there are no injuries. When it's just here and my RIR she is fine. Just when the other 2 come around she tries to steer clear of them.
post #5 of 9

One thing you can count on with chickens is things never stay the same forever. The pecking order is also very fluid, and it depends on many things, many of which always are changing.

 

So, yes, the way things are now isn't how they're always going to be.

post #6 of 9

Azygous has given very sage advice.

 

Typically the friendliest hen to humans is the bird that is the most tame, which usually means the least aggressive, which puts her automatically at the bottom of the pecking order.

 

She also was in a molt, which is hard on them, and they don't feel well (imagine razor burn all over your body), and the other birds can peck at her prickles which will make her run, which reinforces that she is less than they are.

 

While not flighty or typically aggressive, Wyandottes are usually rather self-possessed birds stemming from the fact that full grown, they are typically larger than the average bird. They likely are larger than your 10 month old EE...that also feeds into the equation as she who carries the weight, and willing to throw it around, usually is on the top of the pecking order.

 

Just watch and wait. Make sure no one is being hazed so severely that they are not getting food or water. Placing feeding stations in different locations can be very helpful so that all can get their fill. It should be a location that is out of sight of the other.

 

In time, things generally settle down. If not, then it may be time to intervene. Flocks are like families...some get along very well together...others can have a lot of drama....but chickens are not like people with emotions and do not see hazing as anything other than establishing flock order with the hardiest at top.  It is up to you to make sure that overall harmony exists while letting the pecking order sort itself out if done reasonably well.

 

...and while you feel sorry for the one that is being hazed now...I have seen it over and over that the lowest one on the pecking order hazes the hardest when a new hen is brought in, changing the flock dynamics again.

 

LofMc

Keeper of 15+ layers, common to specialty types for colorful egg baskets. Brooding Queens: The Queen Mum Silkie and 2 Bantam Cochin handmaids. Preparing to breed my own Olive Eggers! Barnevelder roo with Splash Marans and CL for egg color and color coding :D Former 4H leader, GDB Puppy Raiser, Homeschooler. Current ESL tutor. Proud new grandma. Loving wife to a very tolerant husband.
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Keeper of 15+ layers, common to specialty types for colorful egg baskets. Brooding Queens: The Queen Mum Silkie and 2 Bantam Cochin handmaids. Preparing to breed my own Olive Eggers! Barnevelder roo with Splash Marans and CL for egg color and color coding :D Former 4H leader, GDB Puppy Raiser, Homeschooler. Current ESL tutor. Proud new grandma. Loving wife to a very tolerant husband.
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post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
You all are awesome. You have made me feel so much better!!!
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Good news!!! I got my first blue egg in MONTHS!!! I'm guessing she's feeling better! smile.png
post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by SurbFarmGirl View Post

I have 4 chickens that will be a year old in April. They are awesome. ...... My 2 Wyandotte have been bullying her sad.png Today I was tossing black oiled sunflower seeds around as a treat and every time she would start to eat them, one would come over and she'd run off. It breaks my heart. I've watched them peck her bottom ... but she isn't showing any wounds or feather loss.

How long will this last. Will she ever come up from the bottom of Pecking order? I just hate it.

It will last only as long as your Easter Egger allows it to last or in other words as long as either of your two Wyandottes are stronger than your Easter Egger.  This is the reality of chicken society and short of maybe cutting off both of your Wyandottes' right legs, there is little that you can do that will permanently change it.


Edited by chickengeorgeto - 1/20/16 at 11:26pm
Keep your chickens safe from predators, buy and wear fur. 
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Keep your chickens safe from predators, buy and wear fur. 
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