Surprising chicken behaviors

Sahraschweiss

Songster
Apr 9, 2020
429
1,093
216
Wildwood, Missouri
This is my first time with chickens. I got one batch of 12 chicks in March, and in May I got another batch of 8. The May group had my only cockerel. My flock is 19 pullets and one cockerel composed of black sex-links (5), speckled sussexes (2), gold Laced Wyandottes (3), ISA Browns(2), buff orpingtons (4), and barred rocks (4). All are Hoover's Hatchery purchased at Rural King.

Surprises:
1. My cockerel isn't a jerk yet.
He is still working on manners with the girls, but he tries. He points out treats, helps with nests, stays with new layers, and lets the girls know when hawks are out. However he doesn't always wait for consent, but he's getting better.

2. Chickens work together.
So the cockerel is two months younger than the black sex-links. Those ladies are boss birds. Now that he is noticably bigger than them, he has tried for dominance. I've seen him challenge top girl Janet. Both will have heads down and hackles raised. But as soon as they start to circle, they other black sex-links come running to her aid. They flank her sides, lower heads, and raise hackles. If he is going to fight Janet, he has to fight them all. Five against one is not good odds and he wisely backs down.

3. They can be cheerleaders.
One of my ISAs was the first to lay. She has set with each new layer for there first few lays. She will groom and give soft murmurs of encouragement to the new layer and will keep nosy girls away. All the while the cockerel watches from a nearby nest.

4. They can hold a grudge.
At the beginning, the cockerel was super rude to the girls. They would chase and peck at him when he forced himself on one of them. If he had wronged them in the morning, they would take revenge well into the evening. Because of their attacks, he has learned to dance and take no for no.

5. The pecking order isn't linear.
In my flock of 20, I have only two obvious constants, Janet is top bird and Cindy is bottom bird. All other positions change through out the day. Girls that seemed to be besties one day are indifferent the next. Their personalities are complex.

Does anyone have any observations they would like to share?
 
Your cockerel is impressive. Maybe being outnumbered 19 to 1 helps. So maybe what I mean is your pullets are doing a good job of teaching him manners. ;)
Both. The girls have been good trainers, and he has been receptive to the girls guidance. Also, around his 10 week mark, I started taking a mutual respect approach with him. I respected his space if he respected mine. He never liked being handled, so I stopped. He now eats out of my hand at treat time, and he is chill with me cleaning up the poop boards while the girls are laying eggs or if I'm working in the run. I couldn't catch him if I wanted to, but at least he isn't mean to me or the girls. He's only six months old, but I am hopeful.
 
My cockerel is just shy of 8 months old and we still have a "discussion" every now and then about me being the boss. I have learned a couple of things in the past few days, though.

He challenges me when I wear something he hasn't seen before. However, he doesn't challenge me when I bring some goodies on the treat plate. This morning I needed my winter coat, which he's never seen. So when I went out, I took the treat plate. He looked at me a little bit, but was ok with me reaching down with the plate and putting it in the middle of the group.

He is upset by the color blue. I had blue sweats on the other day, and he did the whole flare his hackles, dart in and peck my feet thing that gets him pecked back by me. Then alpha pullet get between me and him and stared him down. That's new.

Since the weather dictates warmer (and different clothing), I've been taking some greens in with me and singing my "chickie snack" song. That seems to help him figure out that it's Mama and she's ok.
 
My cockerel is just shy of 8 months old and we still have a "discussion" every now and then about me being the boss. I have learned a couple of things in the past few days, though.

He challenges me when I wear something he hasn't seen before. However, he doesn't challenge me when I bring some goodies on the treat plate. This morning I needed my winter coat, which he's never seen. So when I went out, I took the treat plate. He looked at me a little bit, but was ok with me reaching down with the plate and putting it in the middle of the group.

He is upset by the color blue. I had blue sweats on the other day, and he did the whole flare his hackles, dart in and peck my feet thing that gets him pecked back by me. Then alpha pullet get between me and him and stared him down. That's new.

Since the weather dictates warmer (and different clothing), I've been taking some greens in with me and singing my "chickie snack" song. That seems to help him figure out that it's Mama and she's ok.
Awhile back I read a thread, can't remember by whom, about rooster behavior. One of the things said was to be mindful of how you handle his girls. If you pick them up and they ruffle their feathers when you put them down, then he thinks you might have mated his girl. Once I started being careful on how I put the girls down, my boy became more trusting of me. He still gives me side eye if any of the girls squat infront of me.
 
This is my first time with chickens. I got one batch of 12 chicks in March, and in May I got another batch of 8. The May group had my only cockerel. My flock is 19 pullets and one cockerel composed of black sex-links (5), speckled sussexes (2), gold Laced Wyandottes (3), ISA Browns(2), buff orpingtons (4), and barred rocks (4). All are Hoover's Hatchery purchased at Rural King.

Surprises:
1. My cockerel isn't a jerk yet.
He is still working on manners with the girls, but he tries. He points out treats, helps with nests, stays with new layers, and lets the girls know when hawks are out. However he doesn't always wait for consent, but he's getting better.

2. Chickens work together.
So the cockerel is two months younger than the black sex-links. Those ladies are boss birds. Now that he is noticably bigger than them, he has tried for dominance. I've seen him challenge top girl Janet. Both will have heads down and hackles raised. But as soon as they start to circle, they other black sex-links come running to her aid. They flank her sides, lower heads, and raise hackles. If he is going to fight Janet, he has to fight them all. Five against one is not good odds and he wisely backs down.

3. They can be cheerleaders.
One of my ISAs was the first to lay. She has set with each new layer for there first few lays. She will groom and give soft murmurs of encouragement to the new layer and will keep nosy girls away. All the while the cockerel watches from a nearby nest.

4. They can hold a grudge.
At the beginning, the cockerel was super rude to the girls. They would chase and peck at him when he forced himself on one of them. If he had wronged them in the morning, they would take revenge well into the evening. Because of their attacks, he has learned to dance and take no for no.

5. The pecking order isn't linear.
In my flock of 20, I have only two obvious constants, Janet is top bird and Cindy is bottom bird. All other positions change through out the day. Girls that seemed to be besties one day are indifferent the next. Their personalities are complex.

Does anyone have any observations they would like to share?
My flock's politics seem to change without much notice. One of my oldest spring chicks is a RIR, Rachel. She wants to brood, PERIOD. She doesn't seem to care whose egg it is, she claims it.

We had one cockerel out of 17, but didn't know it until last week when 'she' decided to mount one of her clutch mates. Oliver is my only Easter Egger, we kept saying, wow, she's bossy, and so big! Two weeks ago, we were looking at her and saying, that tail sure looks like a roo tail. No spurs, no big comb or wattles, no crowing. Surprise!

My little banty is bffs with all the girls. For as tiny as he is, they seem to see him as a half grown chick more than a rooster. He's a year and a half, lol.

But as of now, there's no clear top or bottom, they're still figuring it out. The only really silly thing is when I let them out into the run each morning: they EXPLODE into the run, half of them flying, all of them excited and yelling loudly!

The little dude is Squeaky, my banty. The multicolored roo is Oliver, the EE.
 

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My flock's politics seem to change without much notice. One of my oldest spring chicks is a RIR, Rachel. She wants to brood, PERIOD. She doesn't seem to care whose egg it is, she claims it.

We had one cockerel out of 17, but didn't know it until last week when 'she' decided to mount one of her clutch mates. Oliver is my only Easter Egger, we kept saying, wow, she's bossy, and so big! Two weeks ago, we were looking at her and saying, that tail sure looks like a roo tail. No spurs, no big comb or wattles, no crowing. Surprise!

My little banty is bffs with all the girls. For as tiny as he is, they seem to see him as a half grown chick more than a rooster. He's a year and a half, lol.

But as of now, there's no clear top or bottom, they're still figuring it out. The only really silly thing is when I let them out into the run each morning: they EXPLODE into the run, half of them flying, all of them excited and yelling loudly!

The little dude is Squeaky, my banty. The multicolored roo is Oliver, the EE.
Those are beautiful birds!
 

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