The Pecking Order

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Col1948, Sep 24, 2018.

  1. Col1948

    Col1948 Songster

    Sep 9, 2018
    Manchester UK
    As some of you know, I recently introduced 2 new hens to the 3 I already had, they are from the same flock but the original 3 still didn't like them.
    I isolated them in a small coop and let the original 3 see them for 3 days, but I had the coop for sale and someone was coming for it so I had to let them out.
    Any way they scratched and pecked about side by side in the garden, when evening came they were all in the big coop, I shut the hatch and left them to it, I looked in on them later and they were all on the roost side by side.

    Next morning let them out, again roaming the garden and pecking away, last night all seemed OK, they went in the coop and again on the roost side by side.
    Tonight was a different story, I looked in and 1 of the originals (Pepper) was having a right good go and 1 of the new girls, pecking at her body and head till she jumped off the roost.
    Then she turned to the next new girl and did the same, it was what happened next surprised me.
    Roxie 1 of the originals moved along the roost and started to chastise Pepper by pecking her on the head as though telling her to stop.
    Pepper had a sly peck at 1 of the new girls again only to get more head pecking off Roxie, then she seemed to settle down as though she had been told off.

    I left it a few minutes then looked in again and the 5 of them were all on the roost side by side and looked like they were OK. So it seems Roxie is the Queen, Pepper second and Dixie third, then the 2 new girls are at the moment level pegging at the bottom of the ladder.
  2. Sneebsey

    Sneebsey Songster

    Apr 7, 2017
    Shropshire, UK
    Pepper is likely the lowest of the original 3, and trying to ensure that she will be higher up in the pecking order than the two newbies. They will settle down, though lucky you that your top hen is a gracious Queen to her two new subjects.
  3. Col1948

    Col1948 Songster

    Sep 9, 2018
    Manchester UK
    One of the newbies is bigger than the rest of them, when I see them shoo her away I keep thinking, 'If only she stood her ground and gave it back I'm sure they would back off,' I think because they can get away with it they do it.
  4. RodNTN

    RodNTN Hatchaolic

    May 22, 2013
    The Volunteer State
    My Coop
    I'd say Pepper is trying to make sure she isn't knocked down the peg any further :p
  5. Flockandfowl46

    Flockandfowl46 Crowing

    Mar 28, 2018
    Southwest Virginia USA
    Its not really a size thing,it's a hormonal thing and the higher the hormone levels the more dominant the hen...they sense this and different breeds develope at different levels
  6. chickens really

    chickens really Crazy Call Duck Momma

    They will figure it out well before you do..:frow
    Chickens are mean when Roosting and nothing to do with pecking order...
    Col1948 and Flockandfowl46 like this.
  7. ChickenGirl555

    ChickenGirl555 Songster

    Oct 22, 2017
    My Coop
    I agree. When I introduced my three polish to the older hens. My lowest hen didn't want to give them a chance to be better than her, she wanted to show the others that she was stronger and would be higher in the pecking order. But two were roosters and through mating they ended up being higher, and now the hen won't go within two feet of them.
  8. The pecking order is not aged or size based but that is the way to bet.
    Gameness or what you Brits call "Hardness" is what determines the pecking order more than age or size. Just like the old song "IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO" any time a chicken is feeling froggy and jumps onto another hen and the hen who was attacked runs off then there will not be any further aggression but when the attackee stands his or her ground then the fight will continue until one or the other quits or runs off.

    This is why it is important that you keep your birds in a large enough pen or run so there is no doubt in a chickens' mind when one hen or rooster decides that discretion is the better part of valor.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2018
  9. Chickens it is thought can monitor or gauge the health and moxy of fellow flock mate through the ultraviolet light that reflects off of the feathers of flock mates. Some may call it dominance but I think the entire pecking order is determined by the relative health of each chicken. Remember that ultraviolet light is for evermore invisible to humans but not to chickens.
  10. Col1948

    Col1948 Songster

    Sep 9, 2018
    Manchester UK
    Thank you all for your replies, as you some of you know and the rest can guess, I'm new to keeping chickens and since joining BYC I've learned hell of a lot, and now even on this thread I've learned a lot more.
    I would like to know more about the ultraviolet light that reflects off feathers, this is the first I've heard of it, sounds interesting.

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