CHICKEN PECKING ORDER

firestomp

Chirping
Jul 28, 2016
231
113
86
Indianapolis
Here is some things to expect if you are new to chickens or maybe just don't know. Chickens, like most other animals, have a pecking order, or a held rank in the flock. It is ran from top to bottom, it is strict, and harshly enforced. Usually you get a group of chicks or young chickens. Even at a young age the pecking order is started. You can learn so much by many hours of observing your flock. I get to enjoy doing this thanks to shift work. There are leaders, and there are the the rest of the group. The leaders eat first, have their choice of roost spots (yes even roosting has an order) and can be tirants. This is what I have seen in my current flock.
The original group I have came as 11 week old siblings. One of the 5 barred rocks is queen of the coop and Big jake the overall boss. A friend gave me a hen named little red, she instantly found herself holding the lowest possible spot. They accepted her, but she was last for sure. Then a hen hatched out chicks, all from these hens mind you and we kept 4 of them. When they became teens, they now were the lowest members, Now even little red had someone she could bully. They aren't even allowed in the coop at night and sleep 7 feet off the ground in the open. ( I did an article on cold weather housing about them being stuck outside) Even amongst themselves their was an order to who sat where on the roost. We now have 3 hens that came to us after 2 dog attacks. Guess what happened, yes, now they were the lowest. One of these hens has 7 chicks, she will run squirrels up a tree, backed down my big hunting cat that took to much interest, but WILL NOT defend herself or the chicks fro the other hens. She simply moves them away from the main group. I have watched all of this for so long, that i believe she knows her and her chicks rank and accepts it without a doubt, even when a hen gives a peck to her chicks. Anything else she defends her chicks with force, she even keeps between me and her chicks, clucking and puffed the entire time, and will peck me if I pick one up. I wonder where the chicks will wind up?
A rooster from last years hatch went to a friends, his hens bossed him around for months, wouldn't let him out of the coop. Now as an adult, he has taken the top rank. This happens in nearly every animal species. Primates, lions, wolves, baboons and hyenas are among the most violent in keeping everyone in rank and file.
I hope this helps you understand what you see as bullying in your flock. Watch them, you will learn a lot, even from a chicken.
 

Top Rooster

Songster
Aug 16, 2015
924
1,623
242
North East Oklahoma
I wont go over my whole flock but all you need to know in this story is three characters Goldie(top hen) Reagan (2nd to top) and Goldie's chicks(bottom) on the first day I let Goldie back into the flock she showed the other hens boss is back in town when the pecked or even looked at her chicks except for Reagan when she looked at her chicks Goldie pecked her, well she didn't take that so well and ended up getting into a reall big fight like a bad fight. Goldie ended up winning and taking back her reign from Reagan for a year then they got into another fight not as bad Reagan ended up winning only because Goldie a buff orphington got a bit fat over the year and couldn't hold herself well in the fight. Today Reagan is still queen but that could change as she has been separated ti raise her own chicks.
 

firestomp

Chirping
Jul 28, 2016
231
113
86
Indianapolis
I wont go over my whole flock but all you need to know in this story is three characters Goldie(top hen) Reagan (2nd to top) and Goldie's chicks(bottom) on the first day I let Goldie back into the flock she showed the other hens boss is back in town when the pecked or even looked at her chicks except for Reagan when she looked at her chicks Goldie pecked her, well she didn't take that so well and ended up getting into a reall big fight like a bad fight. Goldie ended up winning and taking back her reign from Reagan for a year then they got into another fight not as bad Reagan ended up winning only because Goldie a buff orphington got a bit fat over the year and couldn't hold herself well in the fight. Today Reagan is still queen but that could change as she has been separated ti raise her own chicks.
All of these animals we keep can teach us so much if we would take the time to watch them, and they all have their own personality and quirks. I have only been around small animals all my life, and quail now for several years. I bet the big farm animals would be neat to study on as well. The Bob whites I have had for a few years, they are nearly wild still. Just hatched out 64 of them. The coturnix quail are very docile.
 

firestomp

Chirping
Jul 28, 2016
231
113
86
Indianapolis
I have long thought that most people who complain about having a bully bird in their flock of chickens have never took the time to watch or look at their flock.
I was trying to give the new folks some things to expect and why. Shift work allows me to watch my animals at all times of day, some folks just don't have that on a 9-5 job. It is amazing how complex the simple chicken group really is. Even my Bob Whites and coturnix quail have their own order and personalities. To me, all animals do if you take the time to learn them.
 

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