Pecking Order Problem Esculating

marlaw

Songster
Apr 24, 2019
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I cannot figure out what is going on with my girls and would love to hear some ideas. I spend a lot of time with my chickens and I tried to be as short as possible but it still reads like a soap opera. Hang with me.

The clique of girls in question are: Frida, Buttercup, Maple, and Betty. The first 3 are full blooded sisters (Seramas) and Betty has always been a bunkmate, so she's an "adopted sister". Frida is the leader/alpha. Betty is physically the "runt" and is smooth about avoiding something about to go down, but she holds her ground and isn't to be trifled with. I really can't tell who the real "bottom" is in this group...all I know is Frida is the leader and she is the strong silent type.

Maple used to be Buttercup's Lady In Waiting/BFF. For whatever reason, Buttercup turned on her hard about a year ago and has had it out for her ever since. If a chicken can have PTSD, I think Maple has it from constantly having to be on guard for Buttercup's bullying. Buttercup has been bullying her more and more over the last several weeks, but nothing particularly vicious. Last night, Maple had something caught in her crop. Buttercup noticed at the same time hubs and I did and attacked her in a split second. We snatched Maple up and observed her, all was well after a few minutes. I can't stop thinking about what would've happened if we didn't happen to be standing right there. How quickly and viciously she went after Maple concerns us.

Now I would have no problem putting Buttercup in chicken jail, but a strange thing has developed where when Buttercup gets after Maple, Maple will then immediately go after Betty. Maple and Betty are besties? I don't get it. If I put Buttercup in a time out, I'm afraid Maple is going to just going to try to escalate with Betty. Feel like it would just make things worse somehow.

This is all so weird because Buttercup is TERRIFIED of Betty. Betty has some serious health problems and has been on her death bed TWICE this year. Buttercup tended to her and stayed by her side the entire time. Maple, who Buttercup hates, has a moment of indigestion and she thinks its her opportunity to get rid of her? I could have chickens for 1000 years and not understand some of the things they do, lol.

My idea: I have another hen, The Mother Queen Goddess Specky, who is acquainted with the girls in question. They all have run time together and Frida willingly concedes to her almighty power. I am thinking about integrating Specky sooner than later. She gets all the nuances of the pecking order and plays the Game of Thrones. I wonder if that's adding gasoline to the fire though.

Any ideas? lol
 

Callender Girl

Crossing the Road
Sep 18, 2018
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North Central Iowa
Chicken hierarchies are weird, aren't they? Sometimes, there are dynamics that I'm sure will work -- and don't -- as well as ones that surprise the crap out of me.

For their first year, Welsummer Lottie was at the bottom of a pecking order of six hens in a coop. Even my vet (wrongly) said that she would never recover the feathers from her picked-clean butt. Turn the calendar pages, and the next year, Lottie was among the tormentors of one of the three Buckeyes, Cordelia. Same girls, same housing. Same naked-butt chicken result.

This year, everybody is being allowed to keep their feathers, and nothing has changed in the coop, the group of hens, nothing.

Let us know if you go with the plan to integrate Specky, and good luck with whatever you have to do!
 

marlaw

Songster
Apr 24, 2019
55
199
106
For their first year, Welsummer Lottie was at the bottom of a pecking order of six hens in a coop. Even my vet (wrongly) said that she would never recover the feathers from her picked-clean butt. Turn the calendar pages, and the next year, Lottie was among the tormentors of one of the three Buckeyes, Cordelia. Same girls, same housing. Same naked-butt chicken result.

This year, everybody is being allowed to keep their feathers, and nothing has changed in the coop, the group of hens, nothing.
It sounds like Lottie and Buttercup went to the same sorority--passing on the same hazing rituals that they had to go through!

I think we will be integrating Specky. While typing this it started to storm pretty bad, so we went out to get the girls and Specky to bring them in. Miss Specky was up in the coop crowing telling the girls to come in to stay dry. I think she will be a good leader. I think she has all the natural instincts that the other girls don't seem to have.

About the crowing--Specky's man, our beloved Randy, passed away unexpectedly in February. She and Randy were "King and Queen". Randy was WONDERFUL and Specky was heartbroken at first, but has come to enjoy being in charge and having girlfriends. She looks forward to visits with the girls and gets upset when its time to go back to her roost. I think it will work out!
 

marlaw

Songster
Apr 24, 2019
55
199
106
I will try to get some photos up. The run is huge and was pretty open until recently. We have strategically placed 5 gallon buckets to break up line of sight and for hiding. It is working a little better than wide open. We would also like to make hay bale mazes but are worried about bugs/mites.
 

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