"In the best of conditions, rejected members of a flock would have the freedom to split off, find alternative habitat, and exist in peace."
I'm thinking that my chickens who get picked on by other chickens would NOT choose to split off, find alternative habitat and exist in peace, because it wouldn't be real peaceful for them when they got eaten. While it may suck to get a little pecked on by other members of the flock, at least when it gets dangerous out, they can all run for the coop and their protected yard & run. Better to lose a few tail feathers to another chicken than to lose your entrails to coyote.
My chickens have a very large coop that they are free to use anytime they see fit, a very secure run attached to the coop and a fenced yard that's about .5 acre in size. I have roughly 40 hens and 15 guineas. The gate to the yard is generally open so they can go check out the horse barn, steal grain from the horses and cat food from the barn cats who don't eat them. At night they all go back in their coop and if someone stands too close to someone else they might get pecked, but not because of lack of room or roost space. None of them act like they think they ought to move out.
Edited by dreamcatcherarabians - 6/10/12 at 10:28pm