What exactly is "normal" pecking order behavior?????

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by leanna1120, Nov 24, 2014.

  1. leanna1120

    leanna1120 Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 18, 2014
    I have four 7 week old pullets that I am slowly starting to integrate with my seven 13 week old pullets. I do not have the option of free ranging my chickens, but do have a very secure 8 X 16 foot covered run attached to my coop. I have been placing the 4, seven weekers in the run in a wire dog crate

    so that they can get to know each other safely. I then let them have some supervised time together (few minutes) before the youngsters go back to the brooder. I have read a ton about integrating these to groups and understand there will be some "normal" pecking order behavior that will work itself out. I just don't know what is normal behavior and what I should worry about. Currently there is a lot of puffing up, growling, some pecking at the youngsters and such that occurs. I haven't left them together long enough for anything serious to happen. I would like to get the youngsters in the coop in the next few weeks. Unfortunately the dog crate doesn't fit in the coop or else I would leave them in that for more extended time. I['m only doing a few hours at a time in the run because it's winter here in wisconsin and I'm also acclimating them to the weather. So how much pecking, bullying, etc should be considered normal? Do my youngsters just need to get bigger?

  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    It's all normal for a chicken, even if it escalates to cannibalism. The line most people draw is blood. If they see injuries that bleed, they intervene. Otherwise, they let the flock work it out.

    It is always a challenge to itegrate whensome are smaller, as for example your 7 week olds. Many people would house them separately til they were more or less the same size as the older ones. On the other hand, many people have managed integrations lie yours without losing a chicken. They are individuals, and many factors affect hwo things go, including space, distractions, nutrition, and any of a number of other stressors.

    Gooc luck!

    This article on integration is highly regarded by many here:

  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    How big is your coop(feet by feet)?
    Is the crate too big to get thru the coop door or too big to fit in the coop?
    Can you partition your coop with a temporary mesh wall with a couple of small opening for the smaller birds?

    Here's some notes I've taken on integration that I found to be very helpful.
    See if any of them, or the links provided, might offer some tips that will assist you in your situation:

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact. Integrating new birds of equal size works best.

    For smaller chicks I used a large wire dog crate right in the coop for the smallers. I removed the crate door and put up a piece of wire fencing over the opening and bent up one corner just enough for the smallers to fit thru but the biggers could not. Feed and water inside the crate for the smallers. Make sure the smallers know how to get in and out of the crate opening before exposing them to the olders. this worked out great for me, by the time the crate was too small for the them to roost in there(about 3 weeks), they had pretty much integrated themselves to the olders.

    If you have too many smallers to fit in a crate you can partition off part of the coop with a wire wall and make the same openings for smallers escape.

    The more space, the better. Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide out of line of sight and/or up and away from any bully birds.

    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading:
    1 person likes this.

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