Establishing pecking order or is something wrong?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by bbecca, Sep 29, 2016.

  1. bbecca

    bbecca Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 24, 2016
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    i have 11 wk pullets. 3 barred rocks and 3 buff orp (1 is a Roo) I went away for a week and had our neighbor care for them. All seemed ok but I noticed that theyre behavior has changed. They start putting there head down and running and charging each other. Sometimes they puff out their chests at each other and peck or fight. No blood drawn or injuries but I do see quite a few feathers in the coup. The one barred that seemed to be at the bottom of pecking order since day one, always quiet and kept to herself is now more aggressive then my Roo. When I go to let them out into the run, she's the last to come out but comes flying out, feathers out, squawking and runs and charges the other chickens. Then they all start fighting. This is my first time with chickens so is this normal behavior as they get older? What's happening?

    Here's some more info too. The week before I left, I switched their food from starter to grower feed which are little pellet size. I noticed they are not eating this food nearly as quickly as the starter. And every time I come to the coop they run to me like they are starving hungry. So I got some more starter and mixed more in with pellets yesterday and they seem to be eating more. Could they all just not like the new food and are hungry and cranky with each other??
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Continue to mix the crumble and pellet feed for a month or so to switch them over. Your birds are starting to grow up and are working out the pecking order. They also sound like they need to burn off some energy. Do they free range? Or have a large run and stuff to do? They are growing up, the size of their area becomes more important the bigger they get so give them lots of room. The feathers in the coop are probably from baby molt which they do a couple times before getting their adult plumage.
     
  3. Wyatt0224

    Wyatt0224 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A bigger run could be the solution of you don't free range your birds. If keeping them occupied is an issue you can hang lettuce somewhere, I've heard that it works really well. Most likely they're sorting out pecking order issues. My top hen is a black Australorp and she makes sure no one steps out of line. She has drawn blood and and whipped the tips of a comb off before. You say you have a roo though. A dominant rooster will usually settle any pecking order issues himself. If they're only 11 weeks old then it'll be awhile before he does anything though.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    How big is your coop and run...in feet by feet?
    The running, charging, and sparring is pretty normal for birds that age, I think it's part play but also some pecking order stuff too.
     
  5. bbecca

    bbecca Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 24, 2016
    Oregon
    Thank you everyone! My coops large, probably 12x12 or bigger. The run is even bigger. I cannot free range due to our neighbors dog who comes on our property and sits at their run waiting for them [​IMG] So I pull grass and give it to them several times a day. And open the run every morning so they can go back and forth. I don't have anything fun for them to do. Maybe I'll put some big logs for them to climb on. Has anyone seen those chicken swings? Are they worth it?
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I'd say Nah to the swing...logs,stumps, roosts, old tables or chairs, pallets leaned against run wall or up on concrete blocks.
    Got pics of coop and run?

    Pulling grass or giving mower clippings and giving it to them can cause impacted crops so go easy on those.
    Look into grazing frames.

    1/2" hardware cloth for grass-like leaved plants(sod and grains)
    1 x 2" fencing for larger leaved plants.
    When fresh planting seed I stack a second frame on top until roots are established or they pull the whole plant out.

    I like the one at the top best and am converting the others over.
    Ripped a half inch off the 2x4's and used it to cover mesh edges to avoid cut feet and subsequent infection (bumblefoot).
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2016
  7. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    I have a swing....My hens like it! Actually two fight over it!

    Cheers!
     

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