Lap-time Affects Pecking Order?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ChickensDance, May 10, 2016.

  1. ChickensDance

    ChickensDance Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 27, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    We have pretty cuddly girls-- 10 in all, some more tame and affectionate than others. Due to some recent injuries, there's been a bit of turbulence in the ladies' hierarchy lately. I'm noticing that the more I hold certain chickens (even ones that don't really want to be held in the first place), the higher they ascend in the pecking order. I know we humans sometimes take the place of a rooster for a flock of hens, thus, our attention becomes a resource, of sorts. Do others with mellow lap chickens notice the same thing? If I have a certain girl who is having a bit of trouble way down at the bottom of the pecking order... do you think holding her more and treating her a bit like a queen will inspire the others to respect her more? Interested to hear your thoughts... Has anyone else managed some bullying with "rooster" favoritism?
  2. cmhalfpint

    cmhalfpint Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 27, 2015
    Fairfield, Va
    Yes just leave them alone for a while and let them duke it out as soon as they do thing will get back to order.
  3. DreamsInPink

    DreamsInPink Chillin' With My Peeps

    I like this theory and am very interested to see what others have to say. :)
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Well, someone always has to be the Omega. I guess you could try to see if you could change that, but then it would simply be another hen at the bottom. I'm not seeing the point?
  5. ChickensDance

    ChickensDance Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 27, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'm all for letting them "duke it out," and, having had a backyard flock for ten years now, I understand that some birds are simply gonna live at the bottom of the totem pole, that's just the way flocks work. But there's been a change lately, and my current bottom-ranked girl has gone from simply being the lowest member of the pecking order to being quite severely picked on and beat up. She doesn't have aspirations to be in charge, but it would be nice for her to get her feathers back-- she's going bald! And I don't want her to get hurt. If she were afforded a bit more respect, maybe she'd be left alone, content to be the lowly omega who stays out of trouble and at least lives in peace. I wonder if holding her a lot, talking to her and giving her special treats in my lap, would encourage the others see her in a bit of a different light. I propose this because I feel like I may have unwittingly changed the pecking order in the past when I "picked favorites" and then noticed that those "favored" birds rose in the ranks!
    Last edited: May 11, 2016
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Try it and see, interesting theory and experiment for a seasoned keeper....I would be curious to know your results and observations.

    It could be that the low girl is ill and the others are trying to eliminate a weak link.

    I've also read a couple stories where isolating a beaten down low bird for a few days gives her a chance to heal, recoup and she comes back out with confidence restored.
    Course isolating and reintegrating a single low bird can also go the opposite way.

    ETA: I don't hold/handle my chooks much, but when I do....I have had the held chook attacked upon putting her down.
    Last edited: May 11, 2016
  7. lovemy6hens

    lovemy6hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 4, 2013
    Central Texas
    @ChickensDance you might be on to something. Let us know if holding your lower on the pecking order girl changes anything.

    I've noticed that as long as none of the others see me put one back on the ground, there isn't a problem. If they do see, they will sometimes attack. That's especially true if they see me put a higher-order girl back on the ground. I haven't paid attention to their reaction to me just holding any one of them. I'll definitely see what happens now.

    My lap can become like a game of musical chairs. The highest bird in the pecking order ends up with first choice of position. They take turns chasing one another off until they are situated in order. The lowest won't even attempt to sit on me unless none of the other girls are around.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by