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How long does it take to establish a pecking order?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I introduced 2 new EEs to my 3 hen flock yesterday evening.  Even though I did it close to sundown, there was a bit of bloodshed.  One of my Australorps went after the silver EE and decided she was happier to leave the EE alone.  My Wyandotte was next, and my EE was the loser that time.  I ended up shooing her off the EE since she was standing on top of her and picking her wingfeathers out for quite a while after the actual fight.  The 2 EEs and Wyandotte shared a roost last night.

This morning, the Wyandotte is still chasing and picking at the silver EE, but the EE is showing no inclination to challenge the Wyandotte and runs away every time.  The EE seems to be on decent terms with everyone else.

The other EE is very shy and hasn't wanted to challenge anyone.  If another bird besides the silver EE comes anywhere near her, she lets out a squawk and tears off like her feathers are on fire.  It's funny to watch, but I do feel bad for her.

Looking back, I should have waited til after the original girls had gone to roost.  They're generally docile birds, though, and they hadn't shown any interest or aggression towards the newbies when they were in the kitty carrier.  I guess I thought that chickens were more like cats; if you bring a strange cat into your house and leave it in the carrer, your current cat will circle the carrier, hiss, and carry on.  The chickens ignored the carrier, so I (mistakenly) thought that meant they weren't feeling territorial.  hide

How long will the picking and pecking continue?  How much is normal?  There's no blood this morning, just some picking and chasing...  My original girls never really fought; they were all raised together, so I guess they never really had to sort it out.

post #2 of 5

It varies from flock to flock, but I have found that my EEs are on the bottom of the pecking order and the Wyandottes on the top of the pecking order. They were raised together, but they the Wyandottes will still peck at the EEs occasionally. But, that's just the nature of the pecking order.

I have introduced other chickens into my existing flock and usually the newcomers are the picked-on ones. Back in mid-November, I introduced one Red Star pullet to the other 12 chickens, and there was quite a bit of chasing and pecking. But, she discovered that there were "safe" places to "hide", and they worked it out. The "head girls" still peck at her, especially when eating, but there's been no blood. In fact, about 1/2 an hour ago, when I went to feed/water them,  "Patience", the newbie, was the first to start eating the food. A few of the other chickens pecked at her, but she just moved to another spot to eat. So, while she won't challenge any of the other chickens, she is able to hold her own and not be as scared.

As far as how long it takes, I'm not sure. It could take a few days, weeks or even month before things get "worked out". But, even when the order is established, there's usually some pecking and chasing involved, at least when there's food involved. What I'd consider "normal" is just the occasional peck or chase that lasts for a few seconds, and when there's no blood drawn or patches of missing feathers.

Red Star, Easter Egger, Partridge Chantecler, Dominique, Rhode Island White, Bantam Cochin, Silver Phoenix, Blue Andalusian mixes, and my mixed breed backyard flock I'm calling "Wildflower Easter Eggers"!

 

 

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and wordly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age...

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Red Star, Easter Egger, Partridge Chantecler, Dominique, Rhode Island White, Bantam Cochin, Silver Phoenix, Blue Andalusian mixes, and my mixed breed backyard flock I'm calling "Wildflower Easter Eggers"!

 

 

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and wordly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age...

Reply
post #3 of 5

The pecking order is a dynamic thing.  It's always evolving and changing.  The current situation will probably be resolved within the week.  It sounds like nothing too dramatic is happening and the newbies seem to be settling, so once the head hen re-asserts her dominance and the newbies acknowledge that she is dominant all should settle down quickly.  Do not let them pick until blood is shed.  Blood is like the proverbial "red flag to the bull" for chickens.  Once blood is spilled they will continue to attack/pick at the bleeder.  Clean any blood spots off and cover any wounds with Blukote spray to mask the blood.  A certain amount of picking is expected but as soon as blood is spilled they need to be split up.

In case you haven't seen this here's a link to a really great write up on flock integration: http://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=2593-adding-to-your-flock

Good luck.

post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by CMV 

The pecking order is a dynamic thing.  It's always evolving and changing.  The current situation will probably be resolved within the week.  It sounds like nothing too dramatic is happening and the newbies seem to be settling, so once the head hen re-asserts her dominance and the newbies acknowledge that she is dominant all should settle down quickly.  Do not let them pick until blood is shed.  Blood is like the proverbial "red flag to the bull" for chickens.  Once blood is spilled they will continue to attack/pick at the bleeder.  Clean any blood spots off and cover any wounds with Blukote spray to mask the blood.  A certain amount of picking is expected but as soon as blood is spilled they need to be split up.

In case you haven't seen this here's a link to a really great write up on flock integration: http://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=2593-adding-to-your-flock

Good luck.


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Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.

9 hatchery and mutt hens

BYC Troubleshooting article -- click here

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Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.

9 hatchery and mutt hens

BYC Troubleshooting article -- click here

Reply
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

The Wyandotte isn't keeping the new EEs from the food or water, so that's good.  Also, nobody's picking at anyone else's wounds.  I can't even tell where they were pecked.  I know it was on their combs, but there was no major damage.

The two EE girls are out in the run, and the original birds are in the coop/house, with no intervention from me.  Neither set of birds is forcibly separated.  The food and water are down in the run, which is about 6' by 12', so there's plenty of room for a chased bird to run.  I filled it with straw yesterday because of the cold weather, and the new girls seem to be content to scratch around and make little nests in the straw.  The older ones kind of have a monopoly on the house, but they let the newbies in last night.

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