Do chickens segregate according to color?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by chickiebird, Jun 21, 2007.

  1. chickiebird

    chickiebird In the Brooder

    Jun 16, 2007
    Annapolis Valley
    Just wondering if my birds are strange or if I can fix this... I have 6 Silkies - 3 black hens, 2 black roosters, and one white rooster. The five black birds totally ostracize the white guy, and the black roos pick on him and chase him. He is a very shy, timid guy and tries very hard to be invisible.
    My plan is to find a home for one of the black roos, and possibly for the white one, but I had an idea, and wondering if it might work.
    The black roo I'm keeping is the head honcho, and since this white guy is so submissive, I was hoping it would be possible to keep him too. I don't want him to be alone, though, so I was wondering if I adopted a couple of white hens, would they hang with him, or would the dominant black roo take them too?
    I'm also getting two Rhode Island Reds in a few weeks - my neighbor is growing them up fro me with her chicks.
    Any advice is appreciated!
  2. Queen of the Lilliputians

    Queen of the Lilliputians Songster

    Apr 5, 2007
    Hmm, I don't really know how you would fix it, unless you gave the poor white roo a flock of his own in a seperate pen. I have a hunch that all girls added to the current flock will become the dominant roo's property.
    I have noticed that my group, although they all 'hang' together, seem to arrange themselves according to what they are. The BRs stand next to other BRs, the RIRs are usually side by side, and my strawberry blond girls (one of whom is only a tiny bit lighter than the RIs) all end up close to each other. I'm not sure why that is, so I'd love to hear what the experts have to say... and I wonder what happens when the birds are mixed breeds and don't look alike at all?

  3. Frozen Feathers

    Frozen Feathers Songster

    May 4, 2007
    MMMMM interesting theory. In my flock it is sort of like that. The 3 white silkies always seem to be together and my two EE's are always together. I think it has more to do with they were introduced into the flock that way. Everyone else pretty much mingles, except for the BWFS she is loner and pain in the bum...she's the only one that will wander on the neighbors property on regular basis. [​IMG]
  4. 4H kids and mom

    4H kids and mom Cooped Up

    Mar 10, 2007
    Southern Wisconsin
    I have noticed this too! I think I've figured it out. Fact: chickens see in COLOR.... so isn't it then safe to assume that they can 'see' what color they are, and therefore would choose to be around others that look like them? I'll explain:

    My own flock is mixed but they do the same thing. Not all the time, by in general the Barred Rocks and Cuckoo Marans hang together (they look almost the same), the Cinnamon Queens and Golden Comets hang together (again, they look about the same only the Golden Comets are a little darker), and the California Whites all hang together. My Ameraucanas, being as unique as they all are, hang with everyone!

    So, I did a test today. I had one California roo that was a hatchery sexing "boo boo" and up until now he had been in the pen with our Cornish because we intended him for the freezer also (we cant have anymore roos!), but because he will grow so slowly in comparison to the Cornish, I thought it only fair to allow him to range the yard until he reaches an age (size) when he can go to the table (or find a home) too.

    So, I gathered him up out of the Cornish pen and took him into the yard. I walked into the middle of a group of the young mixed chicks and set him down. He stood there and looked around for a good few minutes. Then, he darted off to join up with the California White pullets! He has been outside for over an hour and I've checked on him several times and he is following the Cali White pullets all around the yard.

    Its amazing, but I really think they can see their own color and want to "blend in" with others that look like them. I think its a basic survival instinct to "camouflage" themselves in a group of others and not stand out against the crowd.

    So...the way to fix the problem is to either find another home for the white roo or get him a few white girls so he can blend in. The black chickens dont want him around because he stands out and draws attention to THEM as well so they will most likely continue to pick at him or even kill him in trying to survive. Its built into them to survive.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2007
  5. chicknmania

    chicknmania Crowing

    Jan 26, 2007
    central Ohio
    You've heard the saying "birds of a feather flock together"...well, that's true. But they will also deviate. Whitey preferred the white hens, but he'd run with a hen of any color, and they pretty much followed him as he was the dominant one. We have 5 roos left and three are free range. Dazzle's the dominant one; he's black, but he has most of the hens; he is weird cause he won't tolerate our Silver Spangled Hamburg hens; they look sorta like Checker, I guess. Checker and Jack Frost split up the rest. For the most part the roos split up the property into sections or territories and they each have a few hens to hang with. Sometimes they switch off. And sometimes two roos will share a territory. And sometimes, they will run all together as a big flock. Once the pecking order's established, they generally settle down, and get along ok. We once had a very timid roo that Whitey always picked on, and Lucky'd hide in the corner all day. We solved the problem by allowing one rooster to run, and keeping one penned, switching off every other day. It worked. Lucky was eventually killed by a hawk, which permanently solved the problem.
  6. chrissieg

    chrissieg Songster

    This is really interesting. The first chicks I hatched were 2 buff orpington x brown 'utility' (both buff coloured), 4 buff orpington and 1 leghorn. The 2 crosses were the first to hatch, are true brother and sister and have stuck like glue to each other, absolutely joined at the hip, although there is no colour difference between them and the BO! I mentioned in another post that they take no notice whatsoever of my ginger cat - same colour again!

    (Leghorn just gets on with it [​IMG])
  7. mom'sfolly

    mom'sfolly Crowing

    Feb 15, 2007
    Austin area, Texas
    I have two different colors of RSL, both red and two EE, both goldish. They stick together by color. The reds are dominant and the largest girl, a golden EE is the lowest in the pecking order. I feel sorry for poor Yoga, she's huge but all the other girls pick on her. She is the least friendly with people too.
  8. dreamgirl

    dreamgirl Songster

    May 28, 2007
    Hudson Valley, NY
    That's so wierd, I was just thinking about this last night. I think it is more than just color, though that is part of it. My BO and my buff colored Turkin hang together. My 2 SSH's hang together, and though they aren't the same color, my 2 Andalusians hang together. My black pullet (Crow) hang mostly with the Andies, and I think that's that's b/c their personalities are similar. Of course, Crow also is facinated by my black cat... The Leghorn, RIR, BO and EE hang with each other and the SSH's, but again, I htink that's b/c they are all the less adventerous and independant of the bunch. The Turkin (when she's not with Buffy) also hangs with the Andies as does my Light Brahman, who is so cool she's in all the cliques. This may also be a size thing as the Andies bunch (with the exception of Crow) are bigger than the others). My poor roo only joined the group a week ago and he's a big chicken (pardon the pun). He pecks a little at the more skittish girls, but hangs out with them, and leaves the bigger girls pretty much alone, though he is the same size. Of course, he is of many colors, being a mutt--white and buff with black and brown splashed feathers...
  9. iwanteggs

    iwanteggs In the Brooder

    May 1, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    My one white chicken is the leader of the pack. One of the RIR is on the bottom.
  10. rooster-red

    rooster-red Here comes the Rooster

    Jun 10, 2007
    Douglasville GA
    Now I understand why my leghorn Roo acts so goofy and why the RIR's and PBR hens follow the PBR Roo...

    Guess I'll just have to get him some white hens![​IMG]

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