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Pecking order

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Keforce, Oct 10, 2012.

  1. Keforce

    Keforce New Egg

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    Oct 10, 2012
    Not sure if this is the correct forum to post about this. If not, MOD, please move this to the right forum. So, I had 5 four-months old birds in my backyard (one female bantam, one male rhode island red, one male plymouth rock, two hens). This past weekend, I introduced two female barred rocks to my back yard (one one-month old, and one two-months old). The new pullets have been pecked on by the other chicken who are two months older than they are. The two were being pecked no matter what they do. When they come near the food of the other 5 chicken, they would be pecked on to the point that they would hide in the corner, shaking badly all over. I am really angry at my older birds, even the bantam who is no bigger than the new comers in size. Should I separate them? Will they eventually peck the two new comers to death? Or, will they eventually be come friends? What's the strategy I should take? Thanks for inputs.
     
  2. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Even chicks I've hatched from purchased eggs and brooded, or bought and raised (not just older chicks or birds I've "collected") are put out in an Integration/Segregation Coop for at least two weeks before allowing them to join the flock. This can be as simple as a dog house temporarily surrounded by plastic garden fencing, either inside the chicken run or next to it. This way, the flock gets to see and hear the segregated birds, maybe peck AT them through the garden fencing, but they cannot harm them. By the time two weeks are up, everybody "knows" everybody else and the new birds are not "strangers."

    Chickens are fearful of strange things. Somebody coming into THEIR domain and eating THEIR food is a stranger and will be attacked by the braver flock members. By living next to the newcomers, those new chicken folks lose the strangeness. "Oh, it's just YOU."

    When you release the newcomers from their Segregation Coop, be sure to provide extra waterers and feeders, so the Old Crew doesn't block the New Crew from food and water. Pecking order at that point is merely to let those newcomers know I Have Status Over You - you must wait until I have eaten first. It is rarely much more than "Hey!" pecking, some feather pulling, some vocalizations and some chasing. It seldom draws blood, but if somebody gets pecked bloody, you must segregate 'em again.

    Pecking Order issues are tough for humans to observe as it seems brutal but if you keep interrupting the process, it just delays the whole Integration shebang. Pecking order is a dynamic thing; it can change within a settled group, and it will definitely change each and every time a flock member is removed or another bird is introduced.

    Good luck with the integration of your flock!
     

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