apparently 1 mature hen trumps 3 young cockerels ...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Christie Rhae, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. Christie Rhae

    Christie Rhae Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 5, 2010
    Big Island, Hawaii
    Let me set the stage...
    This is my second year with chickens and my first time with cockerels...

    Today I decided to do some more chicken coop shuffling.

    I have a big garden pen that had 6 hens in it. I removed all but 2 EE hens.
    I have a group of 5 five month old chicks (3 cockerels and two pullets).
    And I pulled two of my most beat down bottom of the pecking order EE hens from my main laying pen.

    So I thought that putting 2 EE hens from a different pen and a group of 5 five month old kiddos into a pen with only 2 EE hens could possible work. I thought that if the group of 5 stuck together... (and there were 3 cockerels in that group) that maybe... just maybe it would work. My EE's are the most meek and low on the totem pole of all my birds.
    Well it took about 30 seconds before one of the young cockerels was bloody. And guess who did it? The most beat down, bottom of the pecking order EE hen that was also new to that pen. Jeez!! I had to get those youngsters out right away. I guess I learned my lesson.
    And the crazy thing is... I plan for those EE hens to one day be part of that cockerel's harem. Guess I will have to wait till he out weighs that girl, then we will see who is boss.
    He is a beautiful solid blue marans from Peachick... with a bloody ear lobe. Sigh.. my poor guy. He had only been trying to crow for about a month... how could I have thrown him to those mean old hens?? That is a mistake I will not make again. I hope he is not too traumatized to give his cute little crow a try in the morning.
  2. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    How is it that the roo knew to challenge the lowest girl on the pecking order first. Do they wear a sign only chickens can see on their foreheads saying "I am the peon"? When I finally introduced my roo to my older flock he immediately went up to the lowest girl on the pecking order... and got the beat down of his life. She pulled out the chicken kung fu moves and beat him bloody. I stood there with my mouth just hanging open in shock. She was normally so sweet and mild. I didn't think she had it in her. He eventually had to top her, though. He worked his way through the beatings with all the older girls until he met a girl he couldn't top. She remained alpha hen and he avoided her like the plague. He was never allowed to mate with her. She wouldn't allow it.

    Your little guys will have to accept the same challenges. If they can't then they can never be the dominant bird of the flock.

    Good luck.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I'm a little surprised that by 5 months, he is not already larger than a mature hen. My cockerels seem to get that big earlier. But it's not size anyway, it's maturity. I've seen a 15 week old cockerel that the adult hens would accept. He did all the things a mature rooster should do, find them food, protect the flock, and break up fights between the others. Like you, I've had others much older that the mature hens would beat the stuffings out of. I can't tell you when he or one of his brothers will mature enough to dominate the hens, but it will come. Some hens are harder to dominate than others too.

    It's not unusual for the low hen in the pecking order to be the one that is most aggressive or even brutal to younger chickens, cockerels or pullets. It is a pecking order thing. An immature chicken is lower in the pecking order than an adult. By golly, she may not be on top but she will protect her position.

    Is that blue Marans the dominant rooster in his little family? In a flock with more than one rooster, only one is dominant. The other roosters are not necessarily above the hens in the pecking order. Pecking order is about the spirit of the chicken more than the size. I've seen big non-dominant mature roosters in a flock be pretty low in the overall pecking order.

    When you throw three different flocks like that together, they have to determine the pecking order among themselves. It is possible that hen was rejecting him as a mate, but it is also possible that they were sorting out the pecking order and she got in a "lucky" blow that caused damage. Once he heals, you might try him by himself (or with his sisters if you want them in that harem) without another cockerel and see how it goes.
  4. Lollipop

    Lollipop Chillin' With My Peeps

    Any mature hen will attack a strange new juvinile and the juvie will get his clock cleaned. Some folks have successfully introduced older hens to young roosters, but in my extended experience, the rooster has to be a mature cock to take charge in an existing flock of older hens. Your cockerals should be ready on or near their first birthday. Intros earlier than that should be done in an area where they have plenty room to run........Pop
  5. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    Quote:I've noticed that, too. The other thing I've noticed is that tussles between hens usually seem to occur between hens who are next to each other on the pecking order. No. 3 rarely bothers No. 6, but No. 8 is often bullying No. 9. I guess the lower you are in status, the more insecure you tend to be...not too different from human beings, I guess.
  6. Christie Rhae

    Christie Rhae Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 5, 2010
    Big Island, Hawaii
    It is a pecking order thing. An immature chicken is lower in the pecking order than an adult. By golly, she may not be on top but she will protect her position.

    I am always learning about this complicated chicken society. I had expected these less dominant hens to be more accepting but I guess that girl was tired of being picked on and was not gonna let anyone else get above her position.
    She challenged him first and then he puffed up but was quickly put in the dirt.
    I will wait till he is a year old before I intruduce him to older hens. Maybe if i add hens to his coop instead of throwing them all into a new space together it will work better.
    His two hatch mate "brothers" and one of the pullets will be leaving his group eventually. So I am gonna have to think about other integrations as well.
    It's like a chicken soap opera!

    p.s. I checked my records and it looks like he is just under 5 months. Sigh... Poor thing... Dumb chicken mamma... Just guestimated how old he was and he paid the price with a bloody lobe. Lol​
  7. Christie Rhae

    Christie Rhae Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 5, 2010
    Big Island, Hawaii
    Yes he is the dominant one in his little family. His two "brothers" are beautiful beetle black ameraucanas and are actually a little bigger than he is. But that little family of chicks are so sweet to eachother and always get along so peacefully. Never a squabble. Wish I could keep them together always.

    So I guess 3 cockerels do not work as a team huh? Guess that's good. Wouldn't want them forming gangs and making trouble. Lol
  8. Lollipop

    Lollipop Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:LOL, chickens never work as a team. Nearly every other fowl common to the barnyard, does though, like guineas, geese, ducks, etc. Chickens are individuals........Pop

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