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Pecking order or something else?

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Hello All,


I've read some of the posts re:pecking order fights, and from these I think the answer to this is probably normal behaviour/too soon to tell, but we lost some sleep last night fretting, so please forgive me posting something that may already be covered - I'd be grateful for any advice or opinions.


Our new Eglu cube arrived yesterday lunch time (fantastic piece of kit!) along with two Gingernut Rangers. By mid afternoon we had also introduced three further guests from one of the breeders on the recommended list - all around 16-18 weeks old: a White Star, French Maran and Bluebell (all names yet to be decided). We figured that it would be better to start the flock off together rather than introduce some birds later on in the year.


All was fine throughout the afternoon (fantastic entertainment!) - a few squawks here and there that indicated the Bluebell was positioning herself at the top of the pecking order, with a Gingernut somewhere behind. However, as sunset approached, the Maran (smallest of the flock, 2/3 the size of the next largest bird) became the focus of persistent chasing/pecking/neck grabbing, mainly by a Gingernut. There were a couple of episodes, lasting in total probably no more than 10 mins, but fairly ferocious (chilling screeches from the Maran). It ended with the Maran sitting down in a very submissive pose in the corner for a further 10 mins, with the Bluebell occasionally standing over her, giving what appeared to be gentle pecks or beak-wiping on her head.


Over about 90 mins at dusk, all 5 took themselves off to roost, and we closed up the Eglu. I noticed that the Maran had removed herself from the rest by perching on top of the division wall between the roosting and laying area.


We opened the Eglu this morning at 7:30; by 9:00 everyone but the Maran was out in the run. When I left, the Maran was still in the same place, perched on top of the divider wall - gently cooing while I spoke to her...


We're worried that we've made a big mistake by introducing a bird that is the same age but smaller than the rest of the flock. Is this behaviour to be expected, and is it too early to think about segregating the ring leader(s) of the attack at this point?


Many thanks


Nige / Janice

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It can take a while Nige_and _anice for them to sort themselves out.


Sometimes up to 3 weeks. It often looks a lot worse than it is, so as long as blood is not being drawn, I'd leave 'em to it.


Some recommend using a supersoaker water pistol thingy to blast the aggressor if things get out of hand. A cold sharp shock etc.


It is all natural behaviour and in a while peace will break out and they will all live happily together, knowing their place so to speak.


Welcome to the forum. :lol:

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Someone has to be at the bottom of the pecking order, no matter what size they are.


All this crouching down and looking as though they have been beaten to death is terrifying to wach, but it is all role-playing. Only be worried if blood is drawn.


The problem is getting food and drink to the hen at the bottom of the order, as she will be barred by a row of big bosoms from getting near the food at the front of the run. I had to crawl into the Eglu run and keep special food and drink at the back for my little pair (not a pleasant task). It took about a week before the others allowed them out from the back.


If it is any consolation (probably not), when the little ones grow up they treat the next generation in exactly the same way.

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We have been introducing 2 new chickens this week. They are being put in their place and it's not very nice to watch (no real damage has been done, fortunately). But if it's any consolation, I have noticed that as soon as the bullies go away ie to the other side of the garden, the one at the bottom of the pecking order starts scratching around and acting as though she hasn't a care in the world. So maybe we find it more distressing than they do?

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Hi Milly,


Thanks for your response. We spent much of the evening yesterday sitting by the run watching what was happening, and that's exactly the behaviour which we observed - the Maran now seems to get over it and snatches any opportunity to feed. She came out of the Eglu with the rest this morning (seems to like acting as the gatekeeper at night - sits on the threshold and refuses to budge when the others come up the ladder!)


We had put our names down with a local organisation to take on two ex-battery hens. Seeing for myself what establishing pecking order is like now, I wonder whether this might just be too much for them. In any case, we're not so worried about the current situation. Beginners fretting I think!





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I've been doing introductions of two new Gingernuts to my existing pair over the weekend - There has been a fair bit of squawking and chasing round, but it always seems to settle by evening, and there's been no blood spilt, just a feather or two.....


One thing I have done is put my old feeder and drinker at the top of the Cube ladder (no mean feat - had to actually get inside the run), so if the newbies are forced to seek sanctuary in the Cube then they can poke their heads out to eat and drink if I'm not around to supervise.....



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We picked up 2 new girls on friday, a young Barred Plymouth Rock (Mavis)and a young Gold Pencilled Egyptian Fayoumi(Moira). While Mavis is only 10 weeks old she is the same size as the Gingernut and the Pepperpot and poor wee Moira is only half the size.

They are both really scared of the Omlet girls,which we have only had for 2 weeks, and have taken to hiding in the nesting box while the bully girls are in the run, I let the older girls out for a wander in the fenced area of the garden and let the new girls have freedom of the run without being attacked.

I would like to let them all out the run but I think Moira would be a struggle to get back in, she is a very flighty bird and I reckon she will just flap over the Omlet netting and get chased by my dogs. Poor Mavis gets so scared she puts her whole head into the Grub so the older girls can't get her and she stays like this for ages.


p.s. At what age should you clip a birds wing, Moira

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