What the Hek Is The Pecking Order?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by barg, Aug 17, 2007.

  1. barg

    barg Songster

    Apr 27, 2007
    Someone suggested to me that if I watch my chickens go into their house at night I would see the pecking order top to bottom as they went in.

    The problem is that, the last one that went in is a Dominique I know to be dominant over the other Dominique.
    Of my four older chickens the only thing I can be sure of is that, Domineak is Dominant over Hazel.

    So I'm looking for tricks that will tell me who's in what place in the Pecking Order.

    It will be useful information to have when I go to try and integrate my new chicks again.

    For the record, my Australorp ,Mrs.Nezbit, was the first one in, but the Australorps have been impossible to tell what their rank is.
  2. Do I look like a chicken

    Do I look like a chicken In the Brooder

    Aug 15, 2007
    Western Oregon, U.S.A.
    I'm not so sure that pecking order is so much a 1,2,3, etc kind of thing. I have 2 roosters and 6 hens and I know that one roo is the alpha, which places him #1 in the pecking order, the second roo is #2, but only one of the pullets appears to have any rank over the others and she isn't really that dominate, it's just something very subtle, like another girl moving out of the way as she struts near. Other than that, the other pullets appear equal in rank. There may be some subtle things going on that I'm not aware of, but they don't seem too important.

    I'll keep checking back on this thread to see what others say though, it's an interesting topic and something I'd like to know more about as well.

  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    It might be kind of mean, but if you grab one hen, and kind of "challenge" it against another hen, much like roosters face off, if the hen you are holding is higher in rank, the one you are challenging will back down. If the one you are hold is lower in rank, the one you are challenging will come back at the girl you are holding. This only works though if the birds aren't afraid of you and are focused on the girl you are holding and she's not crying out in fear. You can also see who pecks who on the head when eating. The one who pecks the most heads is higher than the others. There may not be a true ranking per se of 1, 2, 3... etc. but there are highers and lowers, with some lowers higher and lower than other lowers if that makes any sense.
  4. barg

    barg Songster

    Apr 27, 2007
    hehe , when My older girls are anywhere near me all they think about is food, constantly trying to get to me and my hand.
    They have no fear of me they come strait to me and follow my every move when I go around their coop. [​IMG]
  5. barg

    barg Songster

    Apr 27, 2007
    Added to above:
    Of my 2 younger ones, neither of them see me as the food dispencer, I don't know why. We did all the same things.
    Esther does follow me around a little but Winnie isn't as interested in me and tends to want to be the boss.
  6. Rosalind

    Rosalind Songster

    Mar 25, 2007
    It seems to be fluid among the girls. That is, one day Morgaine, my black Ameraucana, is #1, another day Daria (partridge Cochin) is feeling like a queen, another day it's Guinevere (silver Ameraucana), another day it's one of the Buttercups. With the boys it is always the same: 1. Hugo 2. Caesar 3. Arthur 4. Francois 5. Mordred.

    The girls have little face-offs in their pen to determine who gets to be Queen For A Day. There are a couple who are consistently at the bottom, but otherwise it changes.
  7. SandraChick

    SandraChick Songster

    That was me that noticed the order of chickens going to roost!

    There are a few changes here and there, but I also think (or so it seems) that to be the top chicken you must be laying!

    Bertha was a alpha chicken for almost a year, until she took her egg laying break! Now she's top queen only when she's laying....weird huh?

    Oh..one way to tell pretty quick who is queen is to put a treat out in a small bowl.....the queen will peck everyone out of the way...and then the pecking goes down the line.

  8. barg

    barg Songster

    Apr 27, 2007
    I just put their favorite treat into the smallest container I could find and guess what......[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    None of them pecked each other, they all came over as a group and shared and took turns eating from it [​IMG]

    Thanks for the suggestions,
    Keep em comming [​IMG]
  9. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    If you only have a few birds I think it would be a challenge to find the real order. Now if you had like 20, it would be much easier to see. I think if you have only a few, there is much less competition amongst them so they aren't as territorial... until of course you introduce the babies... [​IMG]
  10. rooster-red

    rooster-red Here comes the Rooster

    Jun 10, 2007
    Douglasville GA
    I've watched my girls long enogh to know 4 things:

    (1) The pecking order is well established and does not change unless you add another hen to the flock.

    (2) The top hen usually stays top hen even when more are added

    (3) It makes absolutely no difference which ones go into the coop to roost at night. It changes and does not affect the pecking order.

    (4) The top hen always sleeps closest to the alpha rooster. She may be on his left side one night and right side the next, but she always roosts next to him.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: