Is this behaviour a challenge to dominance?

Spikes Chooks

Songster
7 Years
Sep 10, 2012
362
19
103
Sydney, Australia
My 4 x 20 week old chickens came from the same place and there's never been any pecking, screeching, squabbling etc. To the extent I don't really know who is dominant/lowest except in the order they do things. Ladybird (RIR) is first to make the bedtime call, generally first on the roost. First out the run to freerange and first back in for scratch and lock up. First to the treats. As well as bold and curious, she is very calm and not at all aggressive and she's never pecked anyone. So I'm hoping Ladbybird is and remains Top Chook! Of course, it's down to them to decide.

Second behind her in doing things is Beetle (Australorp), now getting bigger than her. Beetle has started making short runs at the others when they are in the garden. Both chooks will face each other, stand tall with their necks stretched up and "eye-ball" each other. Or touch beaks. I haven't seen any pecking, attacking behaviour. Beetle will do this to anyone - Sylvia (Silver Campine) and Barnie (Barnevelder) just stare her straight back and then they go about their business.

I am wondering if Beetle is challenging to see if she could be dominant. Ladybird had one shut eye for the last hour of the day yesterday. She is fine this morning and I'm hoping there's nothing further (will observe closely). But it's made me wonder if Beetle is chancing her arm at dominance, now she's surpassed all the others in size (and pecking Ladybrid in the eye). Any thoughts? I'm a first-timer.
 

Gardeningmama

Songster
7 Years
Apr 4, 2012
3,256
150
228
Southeastern Pennsylvania
Australorp's are funny. I am new to chickens too, but I have seen this in my flock also. I have roosters, but a few of my girls absolutely challenge for the top gal spot. My Australorp is also my biggest hen, sleeps on a windowsill alone, and will take on anyone that gets in her way. That being said she is my favorite and most beautiful chicken. I think she'll keep going at your RIR until it's clear that she's #1. Then she'll leave her alone. It can't hurt to keep an eye on things though.
 

Happy Chooks

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Jul 9, 2009
40,415
3,498
596
Northern CA
My Coop
Yes, when they stand face to face and flare their neck feathers - that is them testing their dominance. First one that submits loses. It can also include jumping at each other.
 

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