Older chicks on top?


In the Brooder
8 Years
Apr 9, 2011

So I have a RIR that sort of adopted two older welsummer chicks (they're about 3.5 months now, but they were "adopted" almost a month ago). Anyway, now that they're pretty big, the more dominant of the pair has started standing on top of their mama hen, Matilda. Matilda just lays down, like she does when she's getting ready for a dust bath, and sits there. My thought was originally mites or lice because one of the times the little one did a little left-foot-right-foot and peck at her feathers once in a while, like she does in the grass, but I haven't found any, and Matilda (nor the others) shows no other signs of pests.

Background info, Matilda had a sister (Gretchen) who passed at the hands of a critter just about a month ago, leaving me with one adult hen, and my two chicks. This is when the chicks kind of adopted her, where they hadn't had a mama hen before at all. About the same time, I purchased four 1 year old hens from a 4-H kid, and, after having kept them separate for a few weeks have just this week put them all together. It has been an experience, and I've been rooting for Matilda's spot in the pecking order (seems like she isn't aggressive enough to be top, but may come in a good third place, after two red sex links, and above a huge but calm and docile Sussex and a crazy ditsy Polish). The three times I have seen the youngster on top of her, the two top hens were clucking around.

Because of that, I think the youngster is rooting for mama's spot in the pecking order and helping to defend her! The red sex links seem more likely to leave her be when the youngsters are nearby. This youngster seems to have placed herself (if not her sister too) at least equal if not above the skittish Polish a month before I expect her to lay!

I'm not particularly worried about it, since I know they're still working out the social structure and whatnot, I'm just curious more than anything!

Has anyone else seen anything like this? It seems odd to me and I can't turn up any search results anything like it! Any exPerience or guesses are appreciated!

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