Looking to Learn About Pecking Order

Jun 7, 2022
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Hey everyone! I know the internet holds a wealth of information about all things chicken, but I’m having trouble finding what I’m looking for. I have been observing pecking order in my flock recently and find it fascinating. I really want to learn more about the roles of the flock, but all I can find is that there’s someone at the top of food chain, and someone at the bottom… duh. I’m interested in everything in between, Does anyone have any resources I can look into to educate myself more about this? Maybe it is just as simple as top and bottom and I’m overthinking it!
 
In a small flock it's usually pretty straight forward (i.e. head hen > middle 1 > middle 2 > bottom) but the bigger the flock gets the more complicated it can get. Something more like this (don't take this too seriously, I ran out of room for arrows lol):

pecking.jpg
 
I've had chickens for a year and this past spring I purchased new chicks to add to my flock. These chicks are now 12 weeks old and I'm integrating the new group of pullets and at least one cockerel into my older flock that's one year old.
There are two issues I see where they have difficulties: receiving treats and settling in at night to the coop. At these times the older hens chase and peck the younger pullets. I have one rooster (Dark Brahma) in my original flock and he's very loyal to his ladies. How do I get him to understand he's now responsible for everyone? My new flock (12 weeks old - today) has at least one cockerel (Bantam Frizzle Cochin, and I'm still waiting to see if there's more). These girls don't seem to take him that seriously. My new flock is a mixture of standard and bantam breeds and I've been trying to figure out the pecking order with difficulty. Regardless, will everyone make a cohesive pecking order now that they're integrated and are living under the same roof? Will my roosters understand their responsibility is for everyone not just for the girls they came into the flock with?
What am I looking for to identify the top of the pecking order lady? Every time I think I've figured her out something happens and someone else behaves in a manner that she may be the top, as well. If there's some guide lines to follow, please let me know. Thank you in advance. 😁
 
I've had chickens for a year and this past spring I purchased new chicks to add to my flock. These chicks are now 12 weeks old and I'm integrating the new group of pullets and at least one cockerel into my older flock that's one year old.
There are two issues I see where they have difficulties: receiving treats and settling in at night to the coop. At these times the older hens chase and peck the younger pullets. I have one rooster (Dark Brahma) in my original flock and he's very loyal to his ladies. How do I get him to understand he's now responsible for everyone? My new flock (12 weeks old - today) has at least one cockerel (Bantam Frizzle Cochin, and I'm still waiting to see if there's more). These girls don't seem to take him that seriously. My new flock is a mixture of standard and bantam breeds and I've been trying to figure out the pecking order with difficulty. Regardless, will everyone make a cohesive pecking order now that they're integrated and are living under the same roof? Will my roosters understand their responsibility is for everyone not just for the girls they came into the flock with?
What am I looking for to identify the top of the pecking order lady? Every time I think I've figured her out something happens and someone else behaves in a manner that she may be the top, as well. If there's some guide lines to follow, please let me know. Thank you in advance. 😁
Honestly, I am still trying to learn about pecking order! I feel the same way - just when I think I’ve figured out everyone’s spot in the heiarchy, something will change.

I have different age groups and bantams /standard sizes as well. From talking to other chicken people, I gather that they will likely always be “cliquey”, but can coexist. I got my first and second batch of chicks about 6 weeks apart, they have been living together for 3 months now and the ladies still tend to stay with their own group!

My biggest concern would be the roosters not getting along, but I think it’s possible… I have a Cochin bantam frizzle rooster too and he is very mellow. I feel like eventually your rooster will accept them and realize they are part of the flock, but it could take some time. Everyone will have to find their spot in the pecking order eventually! 🤷🏼‍♀️😊 Roles will likely shift as newbies are introduced. Squabbles are normal, I’d just keep an eye out to make sure nobody is drawing blood.

I’ve heard that to reform a bully, you can put them in a dog crate where they can see everyone but not touch for a couple of days. Supposedly humbles them a bit. I haven’t tried it myself but thought it was worth mentioning!

Good luck! I hope this was helpful!
 
Honestly, I am still trying to learn about pecking order! I feel the same way - just when I think I’ve figured out everyone’s spot in the heiarchy, something will change.

I have different age groups and bantams /standard sizes as well. From talking to other chicken people, I gather that they will likely always be “cliquey”, but can coexist. I got my first and second batch of chicks about 6 weeks apart, they have been living together for 3 months now and the ladies still tend to stay with their own group!

My biggest concern would be the roosters not getting along, but I think it’s possible… I have a Cochin bantam frizzle rooster too and he is very mellow. I feel like eventually your rooster will accept them and realize they are part of the flock, but it could take some time. Everyone will have to find their spot in the pecking order eventually! 🤷🏼‍♀️😊 Roles will likely shift as newbies are introduced. Squabbles are normal, I’d just keep an eye out to make sure nobody is drawing blood.

I’ve heard that to reform a bully, you can put them in a dog crate where they can see everyone but not touch for a couple of days. Supposedly humbles them a bit. I haven’t tried it myself but thought it was worth mentioning!

Good luck! I hope this was helpful!
Thank you for your encouragement and support. Nice to know I'm not the only Chicken Mom out here with these issues. I love my Girls- I just wish I understood them better. 🥰
 
I'm having a hard time with this also... like my olive egger is always the last one to go into the coop at night, but she doesn't seem to be either at the top or the bottom of the hierarchy. Why does she do this? And instead of the hen that seems most dominant sleeping next to the more dominant rooster at night like thought, he chooses the far left end and saves the spot next to him for my other cockerel and then they spoon. Then they take turns crowing in tandem in the morning for a solid hour. Aren't they supposed to be challenging one another right now as teenagers? :idunno Not that I'm complaining.
 

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