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Pecking order

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by marktoo, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. marktoo

    marktoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    We have 4 Wyandottes 2 Gold & 2 silver 34 weeks of age. The # 2 hen seems to be slipping to a lower status as she is showing signs of being pecked on the head & neck, she is our only non laying hen. Is there a correlation between egg laying & status within the pecking order? None of the other hens are showing any feather loss.

    The coop is about 1/2 of what's recommended but it is only to sleep in. Perch space is more than adequate. The run is 2.5 times what is recommended as minimum. We were allowing them free range time each day but stopped because it required direct supervision, they came to expect it everyday & they became loud & obnoxious when it didn't happen. I'm not sure if the pecking started when the free ranging stopped but that is also a possibility.

    Thoughts? Thanks!
     
  2. cluckcluckgirl

    cluckcluckgirl Queen of the Coop Premium Member

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    Tending to my chickens
    That is an interesting theory. The first hen that laid for us was also the top of the hen's pecking order. Yes, sometimes chickens will get a bit crankier when they are closer to other chickens, but it should all settle.[​IMG]
     
  3. GuppyTJ

    GuppyTJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    Yes, there is a correlation between egg laying and pecking order. As a hen first begins to lay, she will sometimes leapfrog up in the pecking order over hens that are not yet laying.

    The most common reason for chickens pecking each other is over-crowding. It's hard to say without having more info on how your coop and run are set up, what time you let them out of the coop each day, when they go to bed, etc. to give anything more helpful. It's just something for you to try to figure out. Odds are, there is a crowding issue somewhere causing them to peck at each other. The other problem with crowded conditions is that the pecked chicken can't get away from the others. With sufficient space, the one taking the abuse can run away, hide, fly up on something to avoid the others, etc. A smaller space makes it harder for her not get cornered and then get pecked. If she gets cornered badly enough, the other 3 may gang up on her and do very bad things to her.

    Hope this helps,
    Guppy
     
  4. marktoo

    marktoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for the input, it's greatly appreciated. I realize it's difficult to troubleshoot problems with limited info & each situation is different, as is each hen. She wasn't all too nice to the 2 under her, in the past & I'm not certain she's lost her #2 slot as I saw her chasing # 3&4 around yesterday but up until now none of the squabbles had resulted in feather loss. I'm sure I'll figure it out.
     
  5. GuppyTJ

    GuppyTJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 13, 2013
    Kentucky
    My Coop
    Yup, you're on it, trying to think like a chicken always helps. They have their own ways and that whole pecking order thing is so important to them. And they don't tolerate weakness. I suppose this is how they weeded out the weak in the species when they were wild (non-domesticated) chickens so that those that survive are the strongest to produce strong chickens for future generations. Certainly, it's hard for us to witness and the best we can do is try to create conditions where they don't have to resort to this type of behavior.

    Guppy
     
  6. marktoo

    marktoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    My original thinking was my # 2 hen was being persecuted by #1 causing feather loss from the head & neck. I have now come to the conclusion that it was caused by an early molt as she is beginning to feather up. She is only 35 weeks old so should not have molted until next fall. Early molt is suppose to be an indicator that a hen will be a poor layer from what I understand, so we shall see. She has not laying as of yet!
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2013
  7. cluckcluckgirl

    cluckcluckgirl Queen of the Coop Premium Member

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    Jun 16, 2012
    Tending to my chickens
    Good to hear she was not hurt![​IMG]
     

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