"Forgetting" a flock member within 36 hours???

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Noble Rooster, Jul 21, 2010.

  1. Noble Rooster

    Noble Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

    273
    4
    133
    Apr 28, 2009
    NY
    I had to have one of my girls inside the house for 2 nights to be treated for a cracked beak. She did OK in the house but missed her pals, and I thought it would be better for flock solidarity if she wasn't separated from them for too long. I set her up in a dog crate next to the coop so everyone can see and hear each other but the injured girl can get peace and quiet since she's still a little under the weather from the injury. I let them out to free range together yesterday afternoon -- less than 48 hours from when I brought her into the house -- and everyone responded to her like she was a stranger. The dominant hen ran her off (she was originally #2 in the pecking order) and when she tried to return, nailed her on the open flesh of her beak (the cracked covering had just come off a few hours before). It was clearly quite painful and I immediately separated everyone again. The injured girl spent the night in the barn in her crate, and this morning I tried free ranging them together again. The dominant hen leapt on her right away, so I separated them and put the dominant girl back in the coop for a brief time-out (and boy did I get cursed out! [​IMG]). The injured girl then decided that she had had enough of this crap and if any of the others looked at her sideways, she puffed out her feathers and made a velociraptor noise at them. Eventually she and the others were doing OK together (and they even submitted to her like before), so I brought the dominant girl back out and let them look at and be near each other but kept myself between them, and if the dominant one moved towards her I would back her away a few inches. Injured girl made more velociraptor noises and dominant girl was a bit surprised, but seemed to get the point. Everyone was then OK but I'm definitely going to supervise closely for a while longer, esp. while the injured girl's injury is still fresh.

    I think it will be eventually be OK, but I was so surprised that they treated her that way when she hadn't been gone for very long at all! Has anyone else seen a flock "forget" another member so quickly?
     
  2. calicokat

    calicokat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 2, 2009
    azalia, indiana
    I don't think it's "forgetting" as much as it's that pecking order battle.

    I had one inside for 2 days. She had been #3 of 10 when she came in. When she returned, the hen who had assumed #3 position, didn't want to give it up w/o a tussle. So there was some posturing and finally some chasing and pecking. But when the dust cleared, Marigold was back at #3 and Hazel had to settle for her regular #4 spot [​IMG]
     
  3. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Any time a flock member is removed from the flock, re-entry involves establishing a new pecking order hierarchy. I think even 24 hours is sufficient to cause this.
     
  4. Noble Rooster

    Noble Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

    273
    4
    133
    Apr 28, 2009
    NY
    Wow, chicken politics are hardcore! [​IMG] Thank you very much -- on observing them further this afternoon it seemed like that was what was going on.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by