Flock Dynamics ... Dissension in the Ranks

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Teila, Oct 19, 2015.

  1. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Hi all

    I have a question about flock dynamics, probably not for those with larger flocks but maybe smaller flocks or multiple, separated flocks.

    The obvious ranking in my flock of 6 is:

    #1 Matriach = Cilla just over 2.5 years old
    #2 2IC = Dusty also just over 2.5 years old
    #3 Next Blondie at just over 1.5 years old
    #4 Then LuLu who is turning 2 in December
    And then the two little ones, KiKi and Crystal who at 7 months old have settled into
    #5 KiKi
    #6 Crystal at the bottom

    Before the little ones, the ranking was set in concrete and even with the little ones, it has been stable, after they sorted out between them who was going to be bottom [​IMG]

    So basically #1 tends to boss everyone under her. #2 the same but does not try and boss #1. Again, same with #3, boss of everyone under her but submissive to those above. You get the idea, so on down the order.

    However, over the last week, I have seen #3 submitting to #5 and #5 appears to think she is higher in the ranking than #3 BUT #5 is still submissive to #4 and #4 is still submissive to #3.

    Funnily enough it is a hard question to phrase and I hope it makes sense .. Do others see the definite structure in their flock [1, 2, 3, 4, and so on] or do you also see this scenario where #5 can be boss over #3 but not #4 and #3 can be boss over #4 but not #5? So, a definite top and bottom and just dissension in the middle?

    Or, do you think #5 could be taking on #3 which might automatically give her ranking over #4?

    Hope that makes sense [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2015
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    The pecking order is a fluid thing.....
    think preteen girls
    ....and not something I don't try to pin down much, just observe with a 'hmmmm'.

    Saw a funny thing last night around dusk, 5 youngest pullets were all together at one end of run and a couple were 'fighting'...hackles flared, pecking aggressively, the rest also squawking and huddled in close.... then everyone standing dead still - staring hard for a minute then back to flaring and pecking. Rooster comes barreling out of coop where everyone else was settling to roost and wades in among them and they all went about their business, no more fighting. It was unusual that they were fighting, and I was glad to see Woody break it up.
    1 person likes this.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    The pecking order is certainly fluid and can change at any time in an established flock. It doesn’t change that often once they have all matured and it is set, but if one senses a weakness they may take advantage of the opportunity.

    But I think the key to yours is age. Mature chickens outrank immature chickens. That’s just the way it is. It’s not size, it’s the personality of the chicken. At seven months your two pullets are maturing into hens and are better able to force their way into the pecking order. Instead of children playing around adults those two are now ready to take their place in adult society.
    1 person likes this.
  4. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Thank you both for your responses and I liked the Woody story .. I can picture them "nope, it wasn't us, nothing to see here"; sadly no roosters in my flock and serious fights are broken up by me.

    Having only ever had a small fairly static flock, I had become used to the set 1, 2, 3 and 4 and the fluid thing is definitely new to me.

    It will be interesting to see just how far #5 manages to work her way up the rankings but I am thinking position #1 and #2 are fairly safe [​IMG]

    Thanks again!
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2015

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by