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New to chickens and so confused about pecking order, please help!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by truchicks, Jul 7, 2016.

  1. truchicks

    truchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 15, 2016
    Fort Worth, TX
    So, I have my first 4 hens (hopefully) and I have had them since 2 days old and they are now 7 1/2 weeks. They were so easy as babies but now they are really stressing me out with this whole pecking order thing. I don't understand how it works or goes down but this is what has happened in the last few days...
    I have a black Australorp (Bully)
    Salmon Favorelle (bullied)
    Speckled Sussex (smallest but seemed to hang with BA most)
    Lavender Orpington (largest but most laid back and seems to get along well with everyone)
    So, It has always been BA, LO, & SS that hung together and the SF kind of did her own thing but I never saw any bully behavior. Sunday afternoon I noticed SF back was bald and bloody. It wasn't like that earlier in the day. I only saw BA picking at her back so I assumed she was the bully so I have isolated BA for 2 days now (and I know if she is bullying, I should do it for 2 weeks).
    I sprayed SF back with Scarlex and then covered her back with pick no more cover up lotion and put her back with the other 2 after a day in recovery. Same behaviors as before, SS and LO hanging together and SF by herself on Tuesday. Yesterday, LO taking turns hanging with SS and SF but mainly following SS. By nighttime last night, SF trying to get the other 2 in the coop by leading the way and then flying back down and finally when she was on the ground the other 2 went up the ladder but waited for her to enter first and then they went in. Can someone please explain to me what is going on here or if any of this means anything? TIA[​IMG]
     
  2. truchicks

    truchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 15, 2016
    Fort Worth, TX
    And hopefully they are all hens [​IMG]
     
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    How big of an area are they in. As chicks begin to mature and get bigger they start to become moody and often bored. Like most young species they have a bounty of energy and need to run and dig and burn off the energy. What often is enough room when younger becomes mentally crowded as they mature. So make sure they have stuff to do and room to run.

    Put things in their area where they can get up on or under, or even in to break up line of sight so birds can disappear from others. Give them as much room as you can. You should expect some escalating behaviors as they reach sexual maturity and than as hormones stabilize they should get along better.

    It's always better and easier to address their habitat, than trying to alter their behaviors. My young ones peck each other at times but they can always run away or fly up on a fence to escape each other. The smaller the area and the smaller the flock the more likely there is to be some bullying.

    I wouldn't remove them or interfere with their interactions unless there's blood being drawn, it's always best to let them work stuff out.
     
  4. truchicks

    truchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 15, 2016
    Fort Worth, TX
    So
    They stay in coop and run at night but i let them out in side yard when I am at home during the day, which is most days. Is that enough room?
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    They like to hang out by the wheelbarrow and scrap wood pile.
     
  5. truchicks

    truchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 15, 2016
    Fort Worth, TX
    Also, how do you know who is at the top? The SS roosts in the rafters of the coop and last night they let the SF go into the coop first. Does that mean anything?
     
  6. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    You area is big enough when they are out, but you might want to add some stuff like logs, or old chairs, wooden boxes, things they can get up on or under, even leaning a pallet against the fence can help, I don't see places for them to get away. You could build them a sandbox to mess around in too. Just a few ideas. Busy birds are tired birds.

    The pecking order can be subtle sometimes, you can probably see it best during feeding or treat time. Top bird get the first and best choices and bottom bird often gets nothing unless she's quick. You could probably put down a dish with food in it that they like and watch who eats first and most and what order the rest try to.

    You should have multiple roosts in the coop if possible so they can get away from each other. What are you feeding them? A good quality grower, should give them enough protein to keep them from pecking from a protein deficiency.
     
  7. truchicks

    truchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 15, 2016
    Fort Worth, TX
    Thanks for the advice! I have them on Scratch and Peck starter(20.5% protein)...it says to leave them on that until 8 weeks and then switch them to grower, which has 17% protein. I have a dust bath box for them in the run and right now the LO and SS are in that together hanging out. The SF is hanging outside the box and never gets an invite or either doesn't want to. I have been giving them frozen watermelon slices during peak heat hours to nibble on and cool off with. They seem to really like it.
    [​IMG]
    Sorry, not a good pic but you can see the SF is outside the run chillin while the other 2 are in the dust pan that is inside the run.
     
  8. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    SF are a pretty meek breed. Mine is at the bottom of a 39 chicken pecking order. She mostly hangs by herself too, sometimes another low ranking barnevelder is with her, she seems okay by herself and seldom goes outside, I think it's more peaceful for her. Your little one is adorable.
     

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