Mistaking good leadership for aggression.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Henriettamom919, Jun 24, 2019.

  1. Henriettamom919

    Henriettamom919 Crowing

    May 1, 2019
    North of Seattle
    This post is more observation than question, although I do have a question.

    I've had my layers since early winter. They came to me at 18-20 weeks old and consist of 2 barred rocks and a Buff Orp. My Buff is low hen while the bigger barred rock is "alpha hen", the other BO is the Switzerland of chickens- very neutral and interested in keeping the peace. No rooster.

    Around January when cabin fever was getting real the pecking order rotated to its current format. Low bird, Henrietta (my sweetest girl, naturally) came to me one morning in early February missing most of her long tail feathers and a large patch missing from surface wing feathers. At first I thought she had parasites or had escaped a predator. I quickly realized my once docile Carol was the culprit. I tried a bunch of anti bullying techniques I read about online (hadn't "found" you all, yet!) And things settled some.

    Well, I've been watching my head girl for several months now and she's actually just a really shrewd/efficient head bird. What I used to mistake for bullying away from food is actually a fair system of moving everyone in a rotating circle to ensure fair share. What seemed like out of the Blue aggression was actually her instincts sniffing out broody behavior before it's obvious. She doesn't need to peck another hen bloody because a sharp look and trill from her quickly adjusts everyone's attitude. When she's apart from the other two it's usually because she's on predator alert. I've come to stand by while they enjoy feed and treats and coo at her for being so good and in return she's mellowed and results to physical submission in only extreme circumstances. She's fair but firm.

    For those of you who got your first flock this spring, don't be quick to worry about or punish a hen whose learning to lead her flock. It's hard to watch pecking order happen but a good lead hen is almost as good as a rooster looking after his ladies. Appreciate a good Alpha hen because she often sacrifices time with the girls to get her job done.

    My question is, when I introduce my pullets soon will Henrietta stay "low hen" in Carols eyes, regardless? Is there any chance Henrietta will move up the chain?

    Thanks for reading and letting me share!:love
    mixedUPturk likes this.
  2. Roo5

    Roo5 Songster

    Feb 17, 2019
    Adding new birds can cause a series of problems,sometimes.Ive pecked birds all thee ya from 3 weeks to 7 years together all in one flock and they all got along with a define order.
    Henrietta will probably be more aggressive with the younger birds to assure she gains a higher statues, my low birds were ALWAYS the worst ones,band occasionally my middle of the order hens were bad on the younger chicks.But,who knows,when the pullets get Older one of them may end up leading the entire flock.
    I doubt Carol will still pick on and chase Henrietta as much as she will the pullets, lowest birds ALWYAS get the worse treatment and the last scraps,it’s just Mother’s nature.Hwiever I have noticed my birds who grew up in separate flocks (together in the brooder),tend to stick together and have relationships differ from the other birds in the flock,older birds who grew up together seemed to stick together and younger birds tuck together and never tried older birds,sometimes.Bigger the flock stricter the order,I owned about 20+ birds so I seen a lotta change with flock, chickens even keep sub flocks within the flocks,escpecially free ranged birds.Roosters also could be the cause for some of the flock order.
    Henriettamom919 likes this.

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