When will they settle on a pecking order?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Xtina, Jun 6, 2011.

  1. Xtina

    Xtina Songster

    Jul 1, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    I have a three year old barred rock hen who tragically lost both her "sisters" that she was raised with. I then brooded three chicks this spring and I put them in the run and coop with her about a month ago, probably too early, but the garage was just getting too filthy and the dog crate too small to continue keeping them in there. "Biggie" as I now call my barred rock, unsurprisingly didn't take to these new spring chickens taking up her space and she did not welcome them happily. The little ladies are now about four months old, give or take, and I constantly hear the squawks that tell me that Biggie knocked one of their blocks off. She doesn't let them get up on the roost at night and eventually I have to go out there and put them on the roost and then poke her with a stick through the chicken wire until she settles down and then everyone goes to sleep. Yesterday, I got the notion that my gold-laced wyandotte is starting to fight back, so I gave her a little poke as well to stop the situation from escalating.

    Now, if this were dogs, I would never have intervened, knowing that dogs have to settle on a pack order without humans getting in the way and slowing things down. I don't want my "help" to be more of a hindrance to them establishing a new living situation that works for everybody. I do want to know if there's anything I should or should not be doing. Should I back off? Continue poking my chickens with a stick? Are they ever going to get along? I have two roosts, but they all refuse to use the indoor one so that's not helping the situation like I would have hoped.

    As I typed this post, dusk settled fully and now they're all finally on the roost. But there were a few pecks to the head before all the little girls were able to get up on that roost. Will these girls ever get along like my first flock did?

  2. Judy

    Judy Crowing Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Eventually they probably will. It can take a month, six months....

    You could put the 3 year old in the dog crate for a few days, to knock her down a peg or two in the pecking order.
  3. mandelyn

    mandelyn Crowing

    Aug 30, 2009
    Mt Repose, OH
    My Coop
    My two older girls just accepted the 3 7 month old pullets onto the top bar of the roost with them. Some pecking but not bad. The pullets are insisting they've earned it and stand their ground (though in obvious head ducking submission).

    It took 3 months to get to that point, seemed to speed up once they started laying and acting like proper hens. Now they preen and forage as a group with minimal issues.

    I'm the opposite, I get after my dogs at any sign of a dirty look, before a fight breaks out over who's in charge. With all those teeth and the potential vet bills, I step in at the first sight of bristling. My chickens, I don't really get after them unless one is being awful in front of me, and I'll poke her in the neck all dog whisperer like or will make her squat.

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