Pecking Order

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Rindee, Oct 25, 2007.

  1. Rindee

    Rindee In the Brooder

    Oct 25, 2007
    I have never had chickens, but I am preparing for my first small flock in the Spring. My mom keeps bringing up how she doesn't like how they peck the feathers off of each others' backs.

    My questions is this: Does the pecking order happen in every flock? Is there a way to avoid them loosing feathers? Does having more room to roam help? Are there some breeds that are kinder to each other? Or is this one of the facts of life associated with owning chickens? I do not plan on owning a Rooster if that makes any difference.

    Thank you for your knowledge and advice to a novice chicken owner!
  2. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    Pecking order is the ranking hierarchy-who's on top, who ranks lowest. Pecking feathers off each others backs is not something they all do and has nothing to do with pecking order. Mine have never done that. Sometimes that can mean they are deficient in protein, such as birds that are fed an all scratch diet or maybe they are crowded. In other words, that doesn't have to happen, necessarily.
    The hierarchy of the flock is in every flock. Featherpicking is not, so you can rest assured that you may never see that part of chicken ownership, especially if they are properly fed.
  3. Does the pecking order happen in every flock?

    Yes, there is a pecking order in every flock I have 4 hens together right now (4 more to young to be added into the flock right now.) They (the older ones) have a somewhat dissarayed pecking order. I am not sure who is the "Top Hen" but they have an understanding with eachother. Mine never peck at eachother or peck off eachothers feathers.

    Is there a way to avoid them loosing feathers? I do not plan on owning a Rooster if that makes any difference.

    The only time they will lose a noticalbe amount of feathers is if they are molting, or health issue/poor feeding can cause feather loss and since you stated you will not have a rooster they will not be losing feathers because of him.

    Does having more room to roam help?

    If they are crowded then they will pick on eachother. I believe it is a minimum of 3 square feet per bird when we made our coop we gave them 4-5 square feet per bird plus mine get free range time during the day if not all day.

    Are there some breeds that are kinder to each other?

    Mixing breeds should not be a problem if they have enough room. I own 5 different breeds. I hope this helps you out some?

    I am not as knowledgable as others on here so anyone please correct me if I posted anything wrong!!! [​IMG]

    Also welcome!!!​
  4. bigzio

    bigzio Crowing

    Jan 20, 2007
    Yep, the pecking order is reality to the chickens and all breeds have one to some extent. It is a natural process that the flock deals with on a daily basis. The order changes from time to time, and the top hen usually doesn't remain there forever unless there isn't any competition... Loss of feathers on their back comes from the roo mating and will grow back at the next molt, so to assume they will grow back right away won't happen, however they will recover pretty hens after the molt. Welcome to this great hobby....

  5. debashan

    debashan Songster

    Aug 11, 2007
    Oquawka, IL
    I'm sure there is a pecking order in my flock of 13. They were all hatched at the same time and are now 27 wks. There has never been any feather plucking as of yet. I remember being afraid they would begin that when they started feathering out, and had read that a red heat bulb would disguise the colors sometimes seen as the feathers show the blood supply. This may have helped curb that behavior, I'm not an expert but it might be worth a try. I think the red bulb is comparative in price as the white. Have fun planning for your flock and good luck!

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