Pecking order

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by moodlymoo, Nov 19, 2011.

  1. moodlymoo

    moodlymoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How often do chickens re-establish a pecking order? My girls seem to be in a mood today. They are all having little tussles with each other. I changed the run a bit yesterday, cleaned up the coop a bit, changed where they sleep, laid new pine and its a different brand so its different, added a few logs to the coop to play on, and moved the feed and water.

    The girls usually sleep on top of the nesting boxes which drives me crazy because they get poo everywhere so I put something on top so they cant sleep there anymore. They have plenty of roost space and an adequate root pole but they wont use it. Are they maybe tired and need a nappypoo lol. I dont know what is up with them but they all seem to be in a mood. Im letting them have their attitudes with each other but its getting old already listening to them squawking and fighting. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    You created a disturbance in the force, young skywalker. [​IMG]

    Pecking order involves territory as much as social order or rank.
     
  3. Kevin565

    Kevin565 Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    I don't know about Chickens but my Ducks establish order when:

    1. Someone has passed away

    2. A new duck has been added

    3. In spring time to see there is alot of fighting

    4. When the duckling are grown up and start trying to move up the order.
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote:5. In addition to above, when environment is changes greatly.
     
  5. moodlymoo

    moodlymoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, I will just let them battle it out lol.
     
  6. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    Everyone from the top on down is always looking for an opportunity/disturbance so that they can advance themselves. The pecking order is in constant flux.
     
  7. Jeffross1968

    Jeffross1968 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2011
    Smoky Mountains
    Quote:Exactly what I was going to say. I have four that are just coming into laying. I think one started a week or 10 days ago, and another might have laid for the first time today. I've noticed over the last few days that the one that for sure started laying, who was at the bottom with the other 3, has begun working her way up. She's now clearly above the other 3, plus 1 or 2 others that are a bit older, but less aggressive. It's really a fascinating thing to watch, over time.

    Another example...we hatched out 3 back in September...they are maybe 8 weeks old now. They've been out in our little coop, separate from the others at night but free ranging now for a few weeks all together. I've noticed that it's mostly just the lower pecking order ones from the main flock that run after them and peck. The ones that are solidly at the top of the existing pecking order spent a few hours showing they're boss, but now just ignore them. I guess the lower ones have seen an opportunity to prove themselves to be above SOMEONE finally, and are making sure the little ones know it [​IMG]

    Like Sourland said, the pecking order is not something that works itself out and stays that way. As things change amongst the flock, the pecking order will constantly be challenged. You put a new log in the run? They're figuring out who gets to be king (or queen) of it.
     
  8. moodlymoo

    moodlymoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hahaha queen of the log
     
  9. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I have been watching the pecking order business in chickens for a good many years now and most of my observations involved games.

    Following refers to birds of the same social group. Chicks under direction of hens appear to have a relatively stable social arrangement that seldom involves overt aggression. It is often hard to tell who is boss. When chicks are not hen raised, then pecking order is easy to figure out. With juveniles it appears to be a frequently changing arrangement, especially where males are concerned. Shortly after weaning (hen ceases to cluck) cockerels typically have a powerful bout of fighting. If adult rooster is not around, the fighting can be serious enough that heavily involved cockerels will be too tired / sore to make roost on following night. Cockerels will have another round at about the same time they begin the first molt into adult feathers and again adult rooster seams to suppress how far such fights go even though he may not get directly involved. A final go around takes place at about time cockerels are in complete adult feathers (bull stag). With my red jungle fowl x American games this is time cockerels disperse from natal group. With pure games, cockerels / stags must be isolated from each other from that point on. Pullets tend to be much less volatile as a whole.

    Mature birds in breeding groups / harems (1 rooster and 1 to 10 hens) have very stable pecking orders. Rooster is at top and once pecking order is established, it is stable among hens for entire breeding season. Rank among hens appears stable over multiple breeding seasons so long as membership does not change at top of order.

    Between social groups, usual pecking order issues do not always apply. The social groups, not individuals, are what hold territories. With adults, larger groups tend to dominate when all else is equal. When birds are not adults, larger individuals tend to dominate smaller individuals from a rival group but occasionally multiple members from a group made of smaller individuals will drive off a single larger individual from rival group. Specific vocalizations are made when a group acts aggressively against an outsider. With my flocks, juvenile groups can operate in the same territory although adult groups generally overlap mostly near water and tend to avoid each other, apparently at direction of roosters. Even game roosters can on occasion operate free range if adequate space is available and birds know each other and their own home range.

    What is not clear to me is how birds disperse and setup new social groups. Rank setting amongst hens takes place at this time and roosters appear to be nucleus around which harems form. Therefore hens must be selecting which rooster they will associate with the following breeding season. Roosters appear to be more important in setting up territory boundaries and hens ultimately limit immigration of new hens / pullets into group. New hens seem to have to fight everybody (hens) to see where they will end up in the pecking order.
    I have very little experience with hens only arrangements so will defer to others in respect to that.
     
  10. moodlymoo

    moodlymoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am quite surprised with my girls tonight. We lost a chick and had to move her brooder mate to the coop. She is old enough to be out there. We have to groups in the coop...the older original bunch and the younger newer group. When I added the giant black cochin who is 10ish weeks old the original group accepted her into their huddle and let her cuddle up with them. Its so odd because her brooder mates who went out 3 days ago are with the younger group. I hope you understand what Im trying to say. Could the acceptance have to do with the uproar I caused today?
     

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