Articles submitted by chicken keepers are always welcome because there is so much to learn from each other. Today we welcome an article from the Happy Chicken Coop offering valuable information about the pecking order.
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘the pecking order’. In our minds eye, we likely see colleagues and co-workers neatly arranged in order of ‘merit’. From the CEO down to the janitor, everyone has a place in the ‘pecking order’.
The term ‘pecking order’ was first coined in 1921 by Thorleif Schjelderup-Ebbe to describe the hierarchy of flock dynamics and it came into popular usage in the 1930s….
Sometimes size matters in the brooder, but there are ways to avoid and resolve trouble. I added four new chicks to the brooder a week ago. Two blue and two silver laced six day old standard Cochins… and put them in the brooder with my three week old Silkie Bantams.
Age doesn’t matter much to baby chicks, size however, can be reason enough to start a bully fest. The six day old Cochins were the same size as the Silkies, but now, a week later, the Cochins are substantially bigger. The size issue seems to go unnoticed when chicks are raised together, so they’ll continue to share the same brooder in harmony.
If new chicks refuse to get along, it’s easy enough to put a divider between the chicks, as long as they can see each other it will be pretty uneventful to reintroduce them in a week or so.
Leaving the Brooder
At two months these little fuzzy butts will be moved from the brooder to a transitional coop where they’ll be in full view of the existing flock. Around four or five months the coop door will open and they’ll have a choice to venture out and join the existing flock, but they probably won’t for days, sometimes even a week! Then What?
It’s reality time, and their peaceful world comes to a screeching halt when they’re finally brave enough to step out and explore the real world. A world that is run by powerful chicken rulers who have earned their significant positions in the pecking order. Learn More about the Pecking Order and Adding Chickens to an Existing Flock
If your new to keeping chickens you may have already witnessed social drama in the chicken yard. Sometimes it can get ugly when a flock is establishing a pecking order, and it’s especially disturbing to watch when introducing new birds. I hope this article helps you better understand the social behavior among chickens. Once you learn how it all works, you’ll find your own clever ways minimize trouble.
Tips: Provide food and water in more than one place so the lower birds in the pecking order aren’t bullied. Don’t overcrowd the coop or yard, offer enough space, allowing weaker birds to escape to safety from the dominate ones.
What Is The Pecking Order And Why Is It Important?
The chicken is a social bird that enjoys the company of its flock. Many social animals work out a hierarchy, and the chicken is no exception. The hierarchy created is a means of attaining and keeping order. When referring to this ordered social structure in chickens, and sometimes other bird species, it is called the Pecking Order. Read Article
Stressful Conditions Create Unhappy Chickens and Bad Behavior
Pecking problems can begin even when chicks are still in the brooder. At this age they start pecking the toes of other chicks. When pecking occurs in older birds, they tend to peck the backs, heads, and vent areas. Whether your birds are chicks, pullets, or mature chickens, pecking can turn into a serious matter without intervention.
Pinpointing the Problem
Normal behavior of chickens does include establishing a pecking order. So it’s important to watch your flock to learn the difference between normal and problematic pecking. It’s less likely to have a pecking problem if your flock is uniform in size, age, and breed. All your birds should be in good health as well; those that show signs of weakness are more apt to be a victim of aggressive behavior.
When persistent pecking is observed, check your flock’s environment. Poor living conditions or inadequate nutrition can be a factor in bad behavior. Make sure all members of the flock have access to food and water, even if it means putting it in more than one place. Hens do not take kindly to a shortage of nest boxes either; place them in various areas with easy access.
When there’s excessive pecking brewing in the brooder, it may be something as simple as lighting. Improper or undesirable lighting in the brooder can cause stress, If you’re using clear bulbs in the brooder, switch to red. Check the temperature in their environment, if it’s too hot, or cold, this can contribute to pecking. Adequate space is also vital, whether in the brooder or the coop.
Last but not least, check for parasites. Examine your birds, their droppings, the coop, and treat if necessary. Pecking habits and cannibalism occur when birds are under stress and unhappy. Take a good look at the environment that has been created for them. Is it what your chickens need to live in harmony?