When does "pecking order" begin?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by coop-er, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. coop-er

    coop-er Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well I can't wait until Spring. I drove through the awful snow/cold and made my way to Meyer Hatchery this morning. I picked up my original order of 6 and then spur-of-the-moment added 4 more! My original order was to re-stock from a predator attack, so I have Buff Orp, Barred Rock, Leghorn,and Golden Comet. These will be my layers. When I inquired about their Over Hatch I saw a list of all sorts of fun stuff! I chose 2 Buff Silkie and 2 White Crested Black Polish. These are just for fun and I remembered someone on here saying it's best to have "buddies" when mixing so they each have someone to pal around with. So I have had these guys for a few hours and I seem to be noticing the larger breeds picking/pecking at the Polish and Silkie (both Bantams). Is this my imagination? Or is this normal behavior? Should I consider separating the small ones from the big? Any insight would be helpful...thank you
     
  2. granny hatchet

    granny hatchet Tastes like chicken Premium Member

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    [​IMG] you live in driving distance of meyer ?? OMG, i would be in sooooo much trouble if i did. chicks start establishing pecking order as soon as they start walking.it is possible that if its too bad one may pick another s eye out so it really just depends on how bad it is. normally not.
     
  3. coop-er

    coop-er Chillin' With My Peeps

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    :eek:  you live in driving distance of meyer ?? OMG, i would be in sooooo much trouble if i did. chicks start establishing pecking order as soon as they start walking.it is possible that if its too bad one may pick another s eye out so it really just depends on how bad it is.  normally not.
    [/quote
    Yes! About 90 minutes to Meyer.....very cool place, lots of neat stuff and VERY friendly. Love them!
     
  4. AlohaChickens80

    AlohaChickens80 Out Of The Brooder

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    While I am VERY new to chickens, I did notice that at days old our Ameraucana chick was bossing our B.O. around and pushing her out of the way for food.
     
  5. coop-er

    coop-er Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Did you separate them or let them work it out? My main concern is size...the bantam chicks are SO small!
     
  6. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    I know I will get in trouble for this but here goes:

    Your 4 bantams are already your other 6 chicks "buddies" aka their play things or punching bags. I have advised time and time again to avoid mixing chicks of vastly differing sizes and athletic ability. This is especially so in the confined space of a small brooder that may only be big enough for a dozen or two peeps. Your 6 standard breed chicks look at your 4 banty chicks like they are just chickens, chickens are amazingly unbiased towards other chickens, as much as they are able, they treat all other chickens equally cruel. Chickens don't understand our human sense of sportsman ship, protection of the weak, or fair play. If on the other hand the peeps were hatched under a hen, and all the chicks hatched under each hen were more or less equal in size etc. then the banty chicks' mama, (regardless of her size) would likely do her babies heavy fighting or pecking for them.

    Regardless of what we think is best, chickens come out of the shell knowing everything that they will ever know, or ever need to know or ever learn concerning what it takes to become a chicken. Yes the pecking order starts when a chickens' life begins, and the pecking order extends to the end of that chickens' life. In between the pecking order pretty much determines how each individual chicken relates to every other individual chicken in that flock.

    Now if some of you are curious about why large concentration of chickens don't collapse into a biting, pecking, flogging mess, chickens are only capable of recognizing about 100 other chickens. Whether they are at the top or bottom of the pecking order, every chicken strongly yearns to know its place in the pecking order. To fulfill this yearning, this same 100 or so chickens will flock up and disassociate themselves from other groups or flocks of strange chickens living close to them.

    The good news is that the P.O. is fluid. A chick that was once the terror of every chick in the flock may fall ill or be injured, and they often will. When this happens the tables may be turned, and chick that was once the lion, becomes the lamb. However crested and frazzled bantams kept with larger and more assertive breeds in a limited space may be fun for the keeper but it is seldom fun for the tiny bantams. Their limited ability to see and flee as adults, not only makes them finger food for hawks or other predators, but it guarantees that the bantams are always intruding (usually unawares) on the personal space of an alpha chicken. Any intrusion on personal space is a grievous infraction of the rules of the pecking order and the guilty bantam may pay grievously for its infraction.

    Therefor lacking a sufficiently large yard (meaning an open run of several acres) like your great-grand mother had when she was a girl, the small hooded chickens will be paying in blood for every infraction of the pecking order for the rest of their lives.

    Try to fit a wall or partition into the brooder, (if it is a box like structure) high enough off the floor so that the four smallest chicks can escape or scoot under the partition or dividing wall but low enough so that the largest 6 chicks can't quite squeeze through. But do try to avoid creating two separate or distinct mini flocks out of 10 chicks by erecting a physical barrier between them. Hopefully after some time has passed the 4 smaller chicks will begin to understand their place in the flock's dynamics and be tolerated, even if they are not accepted as full equals by the other 6 chicks. If you doubt my words ask yourself, "Why do some of my fowl range separate and alone and even roost separately or at least go to roost at different times (usually later) and or use separate roost poles from the bulk of my flock."

    Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014
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  7. granny hatchet

    granny hatchet Tastes like chicken Premium Member

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    awesome post!! dont know why you would get in trouble. some of us know it, we do it anyway.
     
  8. kingfrodo

    kingfrodo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I knew that in the back of my mind about mixing different sizes but could never put it into words that well.

    thanks!
     
  9. coop-er

    coop-er Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chickengeorge..thanks so much for your informative reply. What you had to say makes complete sense. Allow me to follow up with a question and a statement. First-this sounds like a situation I must remedy for the long term. I certainly do not intend to allow my smaller breeds to serve as punching bags or playthings for my larger breeds. I currently am working on plans for a large coop to be built this Spring. This is a replacement for my small coop. Will it be necessary to retain my small coop as a home for these Bantams? As this would be feasible (space is not an issue) if needed, they could easily live apart and free-range separately, essentially not interacting at all. Secondly-although I stated the Silkies and the Polish were a "spur-of-the-moment" purchase, they were not impulsive. It was my intent from the onset to purchase these breeds to add to my flock, they were unavailable when I placed my order but became available in an over hatch when I arrived for pick-up. I did research this plan, and as you advised to not mix breed sizes, I also came across many opinions to the contrary stating that size was a non-issue, as personality was more important for these birds to get along peacefully. Now realize I was weighing these two schools of thought against each other. In my own coop I was observing the behavior of my flock. RIR,Rhodebar, Swedish Flower..all large. 4 months ago I added a trio of adult Golden Seabright..very small. There is harmony in their enviroment (I watch closely, as I am chicken obsessed) they range together, roost together, nest together and if ever there is angst it involves the Seabright Rooster (Napoleon) scolding the others to stay away from his hens while they eat. I based my decision to mix my breeds on these observations. That being said, I am interested in your opinion-is separation the singular and absolute solution? Or could there be hope my little family of birds could live in peace?
     
  10. granny hatchet

    granny hatchet Tastes like chicken Premium Member

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    i know your not asking me but i will put my 2 cents in. i agree that it depends on breed. i have lg. and small together fine. i HAD seebright and found him too mean for even my big polish roo. so he went by by
     

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