Establishing a pecking order...or not?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by RedDrgn, Sep 14, 2011.

  1. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

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    We've got five pullets that are 10 weeks old. A few of them were doing the charge, fluff, and bounce moves on the others for weeks now and occasionally any one of them will run and bump chests with another. It never gets any more serious than that. We've never seen any of them even take a single hostile/angry peck at another.

    We have no idea who is at the top or bottom, either. There is one who usually sees and signals when a perceived threat is observed. There is another, different chicken who always alerts the rest when it's getting dark and time to head in for the night. There is yet another who is always the lagger....as the rest generally move in any given direction, this one seems to get swept up in her little sphere of foraging to the point of suddenly realizing she's alone and bolting for the rest. Then there is the chicken, also different from each of the others mentioned, who will ALWAYS follow my DH and I over the rest of the flock.

    So is the pecking order one they are still too young to have worked out or are we lucky and ours are so accommodating that they all kind of have their own little rolls and don't bother battling for position otherwise?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    A lot of people panic and really get stressed out by all the horror stories on here. Don't get me wrong. Those horror stories are real. But a lot of times the chickens set the pecking order and roosters determine flock dominance and you don't even notice. No two flocks are the same. They each have their own dynamics.

    What you are describing is probably them working on the pecking order. Often it is more intimidation than actual pecking or fighting. The basic pecking order has already been set by 10 weeks age, but it will change as they mature. Don't be surprised of a few fights break out. Sometimes intimidation is not enough.
     
  3. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

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    So I guess that means we can stop worrying about when all hell might break loose and be happy that our flock (so far) is on the mellow end of the spectrum. That's a relief!

    Yeah, my DH and I have read plenty of horror stories here and heard a few from local chicken lords. I have to admit that they all made it seem like some level of catastrophe was bound to happen, we just had to make sure we caught it early and kept it in check. We'll still keep an eye on them in case of any serious tussles or resultant injuries, but it's good to know that all out war isn't the norm! Thanks! [​IMG]
     
  4. Dutchess

    Dutchess Chillin' With My Peeps

    My hens are around 6 months and they are still charging at one another. Usually three of the five are more actively fluffing hackles and jumping up at one another.[​IMG] I guess they're not ready to give up to one hen?
     
  5. krickets

    krickets Out Of The Brooder

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    Our pecking order really became evident as the hens started laying.
    As long as you have enough space for the # of chickens you have, you don't need to expect war.
     
  6. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

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    Quote:Ours don't get any worse than that and they really rarely do any of that as it is. Personally, I think it's funny when our EE is involved as she has such a thick hackles compared to everyone else. When she puffs them up, she looks like an umbrella. [​IMG]

    Quote:Maybe ours will be clear once they get closer to laying. We've got five large fowl hens that have a 12 square foot coop in a 100 square foot run. Even though the run is secure, we lock the coop at night, but we open it up again long before sunrise and they get free run of the run all day. Plus, we set them loose in the yard in the evenings whenever we can for a few hours. From what we learned before diving into this, this should be plenty of space. Hopefully it remains so. [​IMG]
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    The space is probably enough with one potential problem. Most of my chickens don't like snow and none of them like a cold wind. As long as the run is not snowed in or a strong cold wind is not blowing, mine will be outside in zero degree Fahrenheit weather. Once they get used to snow, several of mine will go out foraging in three or four inches of snow, as long as the grass and weeds are sticking up where they can get to them. I've had a couple tramp through 9" of snow to see if I had thrown anything good on the compost heap. But it takes them a few days to get used to snow and they really don't like a cold wind.

    Depending on how your run is set up, you may need to do something about the snow and wind this winter so the run remains available to them. You don't necessarily need the entire run, but the more you can give them, the better. Maybe some tarps as a wind and snow block, or maybe scattering straw on the snow so they will go out.
     
  8. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

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    That was planned on and designed into the whole setup. One side of the run is our house and the "roof" is the roofed front porch (which is actually on the second story). The prevailing wind is mitigated by the house itself and between the house and the porch, the run remains 90% bone dry and snow-free all year round. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
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    So far, it's working great. Will have to see what winter brings....I'm kind of looking forward to see just what they do when it snows. If they aren't thrilled with it, though, they'll still have an area they can access without having to deal with it or the biting winter winds. All of the holes in the coop have solid, insulated doors that we can close depending on wind direction and temperature, too. We've been dropping into the mid 40s at night now, and so far everyone is alright. [​IMG]
     
  9. GracieMarie

    GracieMarie Out Of The Brooder

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    I love that you can watch your chickens right out your windows!!!!! I'm always peering out our window but their way on the back of the yard.
     
  10. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

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    Funny thing about that is that we usually can't watch them out the window - it's rare they hang out at that end of the run. They prefer chilling under the coop, dust-bathing under the nest boxes, and using the perch that's near the run door. Figures! [​IMG]
     

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