Do my out-of-town trips disrupt the pecking order?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Squeaky, Mar 4, 2009.

  1. Squeaky

    Squeaky I squeak, therefore I am

    227
    3
    121
    Jul 5, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM
    Maybe it's just me, and maybe I've got delusions of importance. But the last few times I've gone out of town more than a couple days there's anarchy among the yard pirates. It's roughly comparable to the level of violence you get from adding a new bird. I come home to find evidence of dominance pecking and feather pulling, and sometimes a bird is even bleeding although the guys who take care of the birds never notice.

    When I'm home there's nary a peck unless someone's seeing blood or I've actually introduced a new bird and the pecking order needs to be adjusted, which of course are separate and justifiable cases.

    I know they all regard me as the top bird, but does my going away trigger a re-calculation of the pecking order? Or is it just a bizarre coincidence that's happened three... times... in... a... row?
     
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    28,907
    116
    408
    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    How are they being cared for when you're gone? Are they getting out of their coop and/or pen as much when you're away as they do when you are at home? Is their routine altered a whole lot with different feeding schedules, etc?
    Being cooped up when they are used to roaming all day is what turns my peace-loving bunch into a gang of old grumpy biddies.
     
  3. Squeaky

    Squeaky I squeak, therefore I am

    227
    3
    121
    Jul 5, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM
    Quote:The tenant I have taking care of them follows the schedule religiously. The birds free-range all day and only use the coop to drink water, lay eggs, and rest at night. He always feeds them enough (possibly a bit much). I can't imagine what else it could be. He even interacts with them and talks to them, but he doesn't force petting if the birds are unwilling. They come to him for treats so it's not as though they're afraid. For the life of me I can't figure it out. The only major differences are that he's unable to recognize signs of injury, and of course he isn't me so he doesn't sit in the run and let them crawl all over him. If anything they ought to like him more than me because he doesn't pick them up to clip their wing feathers the way I do.
     
  4. CovenantCreek

    CovenantCreek Chicks Rule!

    Oct 19, 2007
    Franklin, TN
    There probably is a little tension among the flock while you're away -- especially after they figure out that you're not coming back (at least in their little chicken minds). Maybe if your tenant could spend more time with them while you're home they'd wouldn't be so out of sorts when you aren't around for awhile.
     
  5. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    5,719
    42
    283
    May 8, 2007
    Wisconsin
    I don't know of a tactful way to say this, but is it possible that you think the tenant is keeping them to the same schedule, but maybe they really are on a different schedule? You know your situation best, but sometimes nanny-cams reveal things parents aren't aware of. Just something to think about.

    Most people wouldn't want to admit that sometimes they sleep in or they stayed over at someone's house one night and the chickens got let out later than usual. Or they had plans on the weekend so they locked the chickens up a little early, so they could go out. That kind of thing.

    In my current flock, none of that would matter. They'd be fine all day. Some flocks are fussier and being locked up longer could lead to increased aggression in the flock.
     
  6. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    28,907
    116
    408
    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    I agree with woodland woman. My soon to be stepdaughter did an okay job taking care of my chickens while we were gone, but not near the level of interaction and spoiling that I give them. Add to that the fact that chickens just hate change and you have a possible answer to your question.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by