How do you tell the pecking order???

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by blueberrychickens, Aug 18, 2010.

  1. blueberrychickens

    blueberrychickens Songster

    May 12, 2010
    Hudson, MA
    SO my 8 girls are 9 weeks old. How do you tell who's the top bird??? & who's @ the bottom of the pecking order?? They all seem to roost together @ nite, & they all come running out the door in the am when I let them out. Sometimes I notice that my EE's are loners, while the other 6 will be chillin' together. Does that mean the EE's are on the bottom of the order??? Also the 3 GLW seem to be the trouble makers, anyone else have that issue???

  2. Toi-toi

    Toi-toi Songster

    May 12, 2010
    Central MA
    Hi Blueberrychickens!
    I have same question, too.
    Mines are 13weeks and seems like all same... Can't tell who is top/bottom.
  3. MakNugget

    MakNugget Songster

    May 31, 2010
    Portland, OR
    Mine wasn't evident until a little older after moving them out to the coop at 12 weeks. They all get along just fine in and out the coop, but when they are in the run, it's clear who's boss.

    My RIR charges the other two every once in a while to remind them who is in charge. They are almost 19 weeks now, and I think it wasn't until about 3 weeks ago that the BO decided to take the #2 spot. The BA is helplessly running around the run sometimes. What's sad is that the RIR and BA are total BFFs since chick-dom. I would have pegged the BA to be #2 from her dominant stature early on, but I guess that was wrong.

    For what it's worth, the pecking order is the same as their order of maturity, judging from the color of their faces.

    The #1 & #3 are still BFFs. In fact, I watched #3 take the preferred sleeping spot from #1 by stepping on her back and slowly apply pressure until she had to scoot. The privilege of being BFF I suppose. I consider #2 to be a groupie or the ditzy blonde. She's always running amok for no apparent reason!

    I watch their behaviors in the coop via webcam and the interactions are more subtle. #1 does whatever she wants. I can find her head buried in the feeder by herself sometimes, but I don't see her chasing anyone away from things. They drink together just fine, and nap together all the time.
  4. elmo

    elmo Songster

    May 23, 2009
    If you can't see it, pecking order may not be established yet. With my first batch of chicks, I remember the battles didn't really start until around point of lay at 5 months or so. That's when our favorite hen, Billina, got the tar kicked out of her by mean Martha. We had to put Martha in time out several times, but it only took a few weeks before things settled down and Martha felt secure as top hen. We rehomed Martha with the rooster we were forced to part with, and after our hens went broody and raised chicks, guess who emerged as the new flock leader? Billina! She's a much more benevolent ruler than Martha, thank goodness.

    Watch the height of their heads. Two chickens facing off with their heads high haven't worked out which one of them is superior. If you see one chicken conspicuously holding her head low in an encounter with another, she's acknowledging the other chicken as her superior.
    Sam Wilk likes this.
  5. Toi-toi

    Toi-toi Songster

    May 12, 2010
    Central MA
    Sometime I see one chicken runs to other ones with head feather up and stand tall, but that's it. They don't fight. Look at each others for a few seconds and done.
    Are they still working on peck orders???

    Also, they are all hens. Still they will have peck orders???
  6. Lynette

    Lynette Songster

    Hens will establish a pecking order just like roos do. I have a roo now who is trying to boss 2 others. When they are in the pen, I can really tell who is trying to be the top bird because he will chase the other roos around. I feel really bad for them and if I see it I try to intervene. I don't like to see them be picked on at all. That is why I am considering letting them free range. So the others can get away instead of being trapped with him. The anxiety seems to go down quite a bit when they are out.
  7. dsqard

    dsqard Crazy "L" Farms

    Jun 11, 2010
    York PA
    I am not really experienced with this since this is the first time I have raised chickens but I noticed the other day that two of my SLW were chest bumping. They are 14 weeks old and up until then I had not seen them trying to establish a pecking order. My other two GLW just kinda stood around and watched. I don't know who is at the top and who is at the bottom but I did find it surprising that it was the two SLW's bumping since one of them was the "runt" when I got them. It took her a while to be the same size as the others so I just figured she would be at the bottom. I guess in chickens size doesn't matter! [​IMG] [​IMG]

  8. Morgan7782

    Morgan7782 Dense Egg Goo

    Mar 22, 2010
    Sacramento CA
    I think the pecking order works pretty similar to a pack of wolves, at least MY flock dynamics are similar.

    I have 5 pullets. The "Alpha" hen is my 18 week old Barred Rock named Joon. Whenever somebody gets too close to her, or does something she does not approve of, she races over to put them back in line. She is best friends with my LOWEST ranking pullet who is an Easter Egger (same age) named Munk. Munk get's bullied by my other three girls whenever she is away from Joon. But if she is with Joon, nobody messes with her. And Joon NEVER hurts her, ever.

    Second in command is my 24-28 week old Brahma named Monica. She tries so hard to buddy up with Joon, but Joon won't have it. Monica takes it upon herself to keep the two youngest pullets in line. Which brings me to Phoebe and Butternut my two 14 week old Wyandottes. They are somewhere between Monica and Munk, but they are always fighting it out between themselves who is first lol.

    The flock hierarchy goes on for life I think. I know Monica is waiting to take Joon's alpha position, and occasionally will make this clear with a pretense chest bump or motion toward Joon. No luck YET, but it's like a Beta Wolf just waiting for the Alpha to fall so he/she can take over. [​IMG]

    P.S. Chicken size does NOT matter LOL. Joon was 16 weeks old and had this HUGE 24 week old Brahma in CHECK. The Brahma is about 2 times Joon's size, but she runs quite willingly. It's funny to see this little Barred Rock tailing this big old Brahma Mama haha.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2010

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