Is it possible to impact pecking order?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by bawkbawkbawk, Dec 7, 2011.

  1. bawkbawkbawk

    bawkbawkbawk Chillin' With My Peeps

    My little flock of seven gets along pretty well - even my little Silkie seems to be able to hold her own. But it seems that the rest of the girls have noticed, as I have, that Lucy the Speckled Sussex is personality-challenged.
    Let's just say she's not the brightest egg in the basket.

    The last few mornings I've been noticing chicken poop in the laying area, which is a no-no. I went into the coop after dark last night to see what was what and saw that Lucy had been banished from the roosting area and had come over to the laying area to spend the night. I picked her up and returned her to the roosting area and the others promptly reached over to give her pecks - nothing vicious, but she's so skittish that one little nip and she has a hissy fit.

    So every time someone pecked her, I gave them a little wake-up-call smack up side the head. Did this four or five times until they seemed to leave her alone. When I went in this morning, the laying area was clean so it looks like she was allowed to stay with the flock for the night. I'm thinking I'll try the same thing tonight.

    Do you think it will work?
  2. AuberyMirkwood

    AuberyMirkwood Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 24, 2011
    Clovis NM
    It works for me. I had some 6 week old chicks I had banished to the coop early this year. The adults were pretty well behaved but they were definitely two separate flocks and the babies roosted on the floor. So a couple of nights before it was supposed to get cold I went out there and picked up all the chicks and forced them to snuggle with the big ones. Of course my adults weren't pleased but I finger pecked any who pecked the chicks and firmly said No. My head rooster and dominate hen weren't listening so I grabbed them holding them down with one hand and using the other firmly pinch the feathers on their head and hold the head down. Basically I was show dominance in chicken language. After twice each they got it and they have been best friends since. I make it very clear to my chicks that I am the head rooster and that I make the rules lol.
  3. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Do I think that it will work? Yes, temporarily as long as you keep reinforcing their good behavior. The real problem is that your Sussex is so skittish - that will probably never change.
  4. La Casa de Pollo

    La Casa de Pollo Overrun With Chickens

    Nov 4, 2011
    Northern Utah
    Agree---we have a skittish one that runs every time a couple older ones come around, it seems to make them want to peck her even more. She tries to sleep out in the run on a roost, while the others sleep in the coop....I will go out and manually pick her up and put her in the coop to sleep and she is learning. But the skittish behaviour makes it hard to get the bossies to leave her alone. I have finger poked at the mean ones too and yanked feathers around the neck and it really freaks them out, they do seem to respond somewhat to that kind of "language" lol. The only problem is I do not have time to hang out with them and really keep on them. Good luck, hope they settle down [​IMG]
  5. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    Behaviour modification works for so many different animals/humans. Reward good behaviour, correct the bad. This doesn't work in all HUMANS (correcting the bad). I myself do not deal well with negative behaviour modification [​IMG] My fiancĂ©e studied criminology and therefore learned all the tricks and trades of behaviour mod. She also discovered I work really well with food rewards JUST LIKE CHICKENS! [​IMG]
  6. coolcanoechic

    coolcanoechic Chillin' With My Peeps

    I am glad I am reading this post. I have had my chickens for almost two weeks now ( purchased from a local breeder on Craigs list ) and they seem happy except for one. There are three hens. 1 RIR, 1 NH Red, and 1 PBR.
    At first, I thought the biggest one was going to be at the top of the pecking order. That is the RIR. She was so bold as to knock the NH red off a perch in the run. She literally forced her off. Then all of a sudden, things changed. She stays in the coop to avoid the other 2 all day and only comes out when I go out there. Then today I noticed that the BR was plucking her tail feathers out! The BR is the smallest bird and the RIR is the biggest. Then the RIR went inside to hide in the nesting box.
    Last night, I had to force her out of the nesting box twice so she would get onto the roost with the others to sleep. I have noticed she stays back somewhat from the other two and waits til they are done with the treats I bring before she moves in. It seems strange how the pecking order works out. The NH red has become quite a people person and her personality has exploded with friendliness. The Plymouth barred rock is a close second. These birds had little human contact other than feeding and cleaning. They also free ranged.
    I was wondering the same thing as the OP. I wondered if I could get the PBR to stop harassing the RIR by giving her a little smack when I see the negative behavior. There are only three of these guys and they have plenty of room, food and water. I want to see them all get along with as little pecking as possible.
    I wish I could be there all day to monitor what exactly is going on, but like most, I have to work all day. So I wonder if only doing the correcting in the evening will have an affect on the other part of the day when I'm not here.

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