Chickens coming online in their relative pecking order positions

JustSarahThanks

Songster
Jun 24, 2020
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Portland, Oregon
I’m curious if this is typical of other folks’ experiences raising chickens but so far my chickens all got to point of lay in the same order as their hierarchy. Queen Xenomorph (Queenie) came online August 29th and as her name implies she is the reigning boss-chicken. My second bird (Charisma Carpenter) laid her first September 15th and she is unmistakably the second in command. Velociraptor von Murderbird just laid her first egg this afternoon and she’s definitely the third chicken in the hierarchy. Little Goga still seems a ways away from laying herself, hasn’t shown much in the way of wattle/comb development and no squatting yet and she’s very much at the bottom.

I could see it potentially being a matter of access to resources since my boss hen does bully little Goga and drives her away from food/treats but I always make sure to have multiple food stations available. Even if she’s driven off from one there’s at least one more somewhere else out of Queenie’s line of sight so at least in my own observations I’m not sure that plays into it. I’m curious what other folks have observed and if it’s typical for chickens to come into laying in order like this.

BA43107F-3979-407D-98EF-8348CD9CE206.jpeg
 

Duckee

Songster
Jun 11, 2014
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Southern Illinois
I havent experienced that. My black sexlink is very bossy and her breed is known to begin lay at an earlier age. Yet, she was not my first to begin lay. I have two red sexlinks in the flock also, and the 1 that laid first had the smaller comb & waddles than the other red sexlink, which still hasent begun to lay yet. Ive also had pullets lay eggs on the floor because they couldnt get access to the nest. I check pelvic bone spread and vent color & shape change to determine which is closest to lay. It has shocked me at times to find that the one that "looked & acted" ready to lay was the furthest from it.
Please update if that theory holds true when all yours begin lay.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
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I could see it potentially being a matter of access to resources ....... I’m not sure that plays into it. I’m curious what other folks have observed and if it’s typical for chickens to come into laying in order like this.
It certainly could.
I've never had that clear cut pecking order observations to know if it is valid.
 

JustSarahThanks

Songster
Jun 24, 2020
147
384
126
Portland, Oregon
I havent experienced that. My black sexlink is very bossy and her breed is known to begin lay at an earlier age. Yet, she was not my first to begin lay. I have two red sexlinks in the flock also, and the 1 that laid first had the smaller comb & waddles than the other red sexlink, which still hasent begun to lay yet. Ive also had pullets lay eggs on the floor because they couldnt get access to the nest. I check pelvic bone spread and vent color & shape change to determine which is closest to lay. It has shocked me at times to find that the one that "looked & acted" ready to lay was the furthest from it.
Please update if that theory holds true when all yours begin lay.
Interesting! Some of my little flock's dynamics are breed suggestive, too--I have two Austra Whites and two Speckled Sussex. The bossiest two are the Austra Whites and more submissive birds are the Sussex and from what I've read, Sussex at least are supposed to generally be more submissive birds. And Austra Whites are supposed to be earlier laying birds from what I've read. I puzzled a little about it because my second-in-command (Austra White) and third-in-command (Sussex) birds were definitely both seeming like they were going to imminently start laying at the same time and I was curious who'd be first, and lo and behold, the Austra White beat the Sussex by five days.

I've only got the four birds, so at this point with the three out of the four laying, they incidentally have all come into POL in their relative order. We'll see when little Goga gets there, I wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't have kind of a while still. She also broke her wing in August and I wonder if the metabolic energy it took to heal that up when it did in her development is also playing a role in her slower pace of getting to POL?
 

JustSarahThanks

Songster
Jun 24, 2020
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Portland, Oregon
It certainly could.
I've never had that clear cut pecking order observations to know if it is valid.
Yeah, I suppose it's not the sort of thing that would be easy to observe unless you have a small flock like mine? And then you wouldn't have enough data points anyway for it to be all that meaningful as far as tracking a trend. Oh well. It's an interesting thought and it was a weird little pattern to observe.
 

piminuse

Songster
Jul 17, 2020
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Portland, OR
I never thought about it, but you're right!

I have 3 layers (lost one), and while their ages differ by up to 3 weeks they are laying in order of status with the Andalusian first (RIP), BCM second, BO third and still waiting (but soon) on my Barnevelder. However, this also coincides with the breeds as Andalusians are early birds and Barnies like to wait.
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
Apr 9, 2016
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I could see it potentially being a matter of access to resources
It's great to see your keen observation!

I've always had too many birds to really notice that.. but I will say that pecking order is often determined in my flock at least.. by who get's their hormone flushes first.. everyone has access to exactly the SAME resources because ALL are available ALL the time here.. in enough for everybody.. unlike that in nature.

So while it may appear top be related to pecking order my bet is that pecking order is related to hormones.. Neither being related to genetics.. such as if Leghorn MIGHT lay sooner than a Rock.. Rock always trumps leghorn in the pecking order here.. simply because they are more confident period.

I would LOVE to see you do some polls and write an article on the subject, just for the sheer fun of it! :pop
 

JustSarahThanks

Songster
Jun 24, 2020
147
384
126
Portland, Oregon
I never thought about it, but you're right!

I have 3 layers (lost one), and while their ages differ by up to 3 weeks they are laying in order of status with the Andalusian first (RIP), BCM second, BO third and still waiting (but soon) on my Barnevelder. However, this also coincides with the breeds as Andalusians are early birds and Barnies like to wait.
Yeah, I felt a little silly after I wrote my original post musing about their social status because I hadn't thought about the more obvious breed aspect of both their social heirarchy and timelines for coming into laying.

I've been stuck in my house too long. 🤣
 

JustSarahThanks

Songster
Jun 24, 2020
147
384
126
Portland, Oregon
It's great to see your keen observation!

I've always had too many birds to really notice that.. but I will say that pecking order is often determined in my flock at least.. by who get's their hormone flushes first.. everyone has access to exactly the SAME resources because ALL are available ALL the time here.. in enough for everybody.. unlike that in nature.

So while it may appear top be related to pecking order my bet is that pecking order is related to hormones.. Neither being related to genetics.. such as if Leghorn MIGHT lay sooner than a Rock.. Rock always trumps leghorn in the pecking order here.. simply because they are more confident period.

I would LOVE to see you do some polls and write an article on the subject, just for the sheer fun of it! :pop
Hmmm, a poll would be interesting to see the results of, with this community being huge and people having all kinds of flocks of various types. That could correct for my really small sample size.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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That could correct for my really small sample size.
But actually the anecdotal variance of the data makes a poll worthless, IMO.
Polls, especially here, are often not written well...often about topics that can't be narrowed down to a few choices.
I've written and/or executed many studies(polls of a sort) in the engineering arena,
so many ways at each step the data can get skewed.

Yeah, I suppose it's not the sort of thing that would be easy to observe unless you have a small flock like mine?
Exactly!
I do think your observations and conclusions have validity....
...but that doesn't mean it's common in all flocks.
Other variables at play too, especially breed.
A high production bird might be low or middle of the pack in the pecking order,
yet lay first because of genetics.
 

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