Sudden change in pecking order. Cause?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by bawkbawkbawk, Mar 31, 2017.

  1. bawkbawkbawk

    bawkbawkbawk Chillin' With My Peeps

    A few weeks ago I remarked that I'd never had such a balanced flock - all five hens happy, no one seemingly at top or bottom of pecking order. It has been the steadiest, calmest flock I've ever had.

    Then we went away for a few weeks, had an experienced pet sitter staying with the birds and she didn't notice anything off until the last few days. Suddenly the "new" (one year old) full-size hens are bullying my five-year-old Mille Fleur d'Uccle bantam. She had let them know who was boss from the time they arrived as day-old chicks and seemed to have the situation well in hand. She would charge at them but never really threatened them - she was just protecting her turf and it seemed like a wise move given that they ended up to be three times her size.

    But something happened - our absence? Something in the air with the change of seasons?

    Suddenly two of the three "young" hens - an Australorp and a RIR, both very peaceable birds in general, are bullying the bantam to the point where she is hiding from them all day. She can fly so she escapes from them by going into the rafters of the coop or onto higher roosts in the pen, but she is definitely secluding herself from the rest of the flock. When I let them out to free range things seem mostly calm but then one of the two larger birds pecks at her and she cries and runs away. She will NOT go back into the coop or pen if the other birds are there as she fears being ganged up on.

    Any ideas what could cause the sudden shift? I wondered if she might be failing and they were preying on weakness but she seems healthy and perky. Is this just something that happens and will work itself out?

    Asking because I worry about her being so much smaller than the other birds. And because I am VERY weary of chasing her to try to get her back into the coop...
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    I would assume either she's not feeling as well or the younger ones are feeling hormonal and decided to take over the top position.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Agrees^^^
    Hopefully just a change in the pecking order.
     
  4. bawkbawkbawk

    bawkbawkbawk Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks. I guess we just wait and see.
     
  5. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    I've had older birds overthrown by young ones, is nature's way of favoring the young and productive.

    I had to remove my 3 d'uccle roosters, who are 7 years, from the general population because they were getting the snot beat of them by the younger roosters. Getting old mellows the confidence, as well as slows the reflexes. Though this morning the blind one was trying to fight with a younger rooster, so he still wants to but can't anymore.
     
  6. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    I agree on this possibly being a health issue. The flock sees things we can't, slight changes in personality or stance. The flock's job is protect themselves and every other in it. In the wild, if a flock member is sick, it can draw in predators. So the natural instinct is to drive off the sick bird.

    I would give this bird a once over. Worm your birds if you haven't for a while, boost their immune systems with vitamins. Check this bird closely for injuries, bugs and anything else that might signal illness.
     
  7. bawkbawkbawk

    bawkbawkbawk Chillin' With My Peeps

  8. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    Aww....your bantam is just adorable! :love
     
  9. bawkbawkbawk

    bawkbawkbawk Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thank you. We [​IMG]her!

    I checked her out. She's squeaky clean. Vent absolutely clear. Nothing creeping about against her skin anywhere. She doesn't have that "sick" look and she is active and eating, but definitely sequestering herself from the rest of the flock. I should probably force her to mingle with them and work it out but right now I have them separated just to give her a little bit of peace.
     
  10. bawkbawkbawk

    bawkbawkbawk Chillin' With My Peeps

    @oldhenlikesdogs interesting about the young rising up to overthrow the old. Just like real life... This is the first hen I've had that has lived past the age of three, so new territory for me. But the bantam seems pretty spry other than all the white on her head. Maybe she's just getting tired, though.
     

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