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Pecking Order Question

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Sheepy, Oct 22, 2011.

  1. Sheepy

    Sheepy Out Of The Brooder

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    May 20, 2009
    I've only had flocks of 6 hens at a time, and there was really know mean pecking order, so no chickens ever got picked on. But in the spring we want to get more than 6, but don't wanna any pecking order problems. So basically where's the number where they start to get to bullying eachother? Would 12 be too many?
     
  2. KTruxillo

    KTruxillo Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 21, 2011
    Breaux Bridge
    I currently have a flock of 12 hens and a roo with no issues, we have 12 chicks that are being integrated in with the flock and have not had any serious bullying issues. That's not to say that my older hens don't peck at the younger ones but it is not so bad that anyone gets hurt...the chicks do have access to their own separate area if it gets to be too much. From my own experience, what looks to be some nasty pecking is really not bad for the chickens, more of the hen getting the offending chicken out of her space. Watching the pecking order be established was more traumatic for me than the girls. Since pecking order has been figured out it has been smooth sailing with everyone.
     
  3. Sheepy

    Sheepy Out Of The Brooder

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    May 20, 2009
    So did your 12 grown hens lose feathers? I just really really don't like looking at chickens with missing/broken feathers, so that's why we've always kept it small.
     
  4. hudsonhousechicks

    hudsonhousechicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 2, 2010
    Austin
    i almost think it's the luck of the draw and there are no guarantees. We started with a small flock of 5 - that's 4 hens, 1 roo. They seem to get on just fine. One hen DID lose feathers but it was due to the rooster mounting her. They all grew back after her first heavy molt. This is not the hen that the others chase away from the food on a regular basis, she has all her feathers. We introduced 3 new pullets recently and they were rejected but not physically bullied. They look fine but the older hens have been so mean to them that their personalities aren't nearly as sweet as the first group.

    Space may play a factor as they seem territorial re: space. Too many animals in a small space can cause stress and they will exhibit behavior that you otherwise wouldn't see. Good luck and have fun.
     
  5. maizy'smom

    maizy'smom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 15, 2011
    Philadelphia suburbs
    My friend is dealing with some pretty mean pecking at the moment and she has a flock of THREE. Took the pecked-on to the vet and got a diagnosis of "remove the peck-er." Decided to try pinless-peepers. They should arrive soon, so no results yet. Lesson: small numbers are no guarantee.

    mm
     
  6. hudsonhousechicks

    hudsonhousechicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 2, 2010
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    maizy'smom :

    "...got a diagnosis of "remove the peck-er."

    mm

    Holy smokes, this made me laugh! That's a pretty dire diagnosis.​
     
  7. mrsbos

    mrsbos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 11, 2010
    Greenacres, WA
    There is ALWAYS a pecking order, I think. There are only issues when a chicken does not kow her place in the order, or challenges it. I only have 3 chickens, and it it is obvious who the top hen is. It is also quite obvious who the lowest hen is. The bottom rung chicken "Chickie" gets harassed quite a bit by the other two, but I think it's more psychological than physical. She's never been injured that I could see. She just is always the last to get to eat, and probably gets last choice for roosting spots at night. It's kind of sad to watch. Kind of like middle school and high school----the popular girls vs the non popular girls. Poor Chickie just has to keep her head down.
     
  8. Mamaboid

    Mamaboid Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 21, 2011
    Muncy Valley, PA
    Quote:Chickens molt, so you are going to have some of this no matter how many birds you have. A lot of "pecking Order Problems" depends on each individual bird and or flock dynamic. Mine actually split themselves up into 3 small flocks that only tolerate each other on the roost at night.
     
  9. Manningjw

    Manningjw Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    maizy'smom :

    My friend is dealing with some pretty mean pecking at the moment and she has a flock of THREE. Took the pecked-on to the vet and got a diagnosis of "remove the peck-er." Decided to try pinless-peepers. They should arrive soon, so no results yet. Lesson: small numbers are no guarantee.

    mm

    Yep, seems to be chicken to chicken really. We have a flock of 9 birds, nearly all of them are fairly nice and rarely peck each other but there is 1 alpha. She is just downright mean and will peck any chicken approaching "her" food with a peck to the face. She also does this on the roost. It really isn't "bad" none of the chickens have ever been truly hurt, but she will likely be first to go when we start removing older bird for younger layers.​
     

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