Nature on our Doorstep - New, The Down the Lane Wildlife Diary
The Chicken Pecking Order and more
Their general behaviour, noises and more observations
There's a lot spoken about Chicken who bully each other and it's hard not to think the culprits are nasty bit's of work, but they aren't, the pecking order is what they do and it's their way of forming a good and understanding community.
The system is quite simple. Say you have five Hens; after a while they will sort themselves into an acceptable situation for themselves. The Number One will boss all the other four, the number two will boss the three below her and so it goes on until you get down to little Henrietta who gets bossed by everyone, but she accepts it, it's a bit like the large Manor House with Staff, little Henrietta is the Kitchen Maid, she'll put up a bit of a fight sometimes, but knows who she is and what she is in the nature of things.
The thing which disturbs this of course is when you introduce new Hens. The key thing here is to never introduce just one Hen, the more the merrier. Life in the Pen will be chaotic for a few days and it may need you to separate the bossy one - never separate the weakest one, it'll only make things worse when she goes back in with the others. See 'Introducing new Chickens to the Flock' and some tips in doing so.
If you introduce say two new Chickens and they're the same breed, they will probably hang out together for all time and they will be more equal to each other in the pecking order.. I don't know why but I've certainly observed it with Sussex and Black Rocks, they'll spend all day on their own keeping themselves to themselves. Ex-Battery Hens don't seem to do this, they'll go their own way (more Street Cred!).
Regardless and no matter how hard it is for us humans to watch our Flock having a punch up, we have to accept it's their way and nature's way. 90% of the time they will sort themselves out. After they do, it's happy families !
The noises Chickens make
There are various sounds Hens will make and each of them has a meaning.
Cockerels will crow in the early morning in the same way the Birds give a dawn Chorus, a bit like an Alarm Clock (well, for most, it is!!). They will also crow as a warning and again when the threat has passed. They look after their women!
Broody Hens will have a low growling type sound and will be much noisier when they do lay an Egg. Should they venture out their Nest Broody Hens are subject to being bullied by the others then all and sundry will usually chase them back in and you'll hear the fighting screams!
Chickens are copy cats and can be seen especially in egg eating. Once one starts off, the others follow, it's vital (from the human side) to put an end to this as soon as possible or you'll not get any eggs at all. The best solution is to separate the one who's starting them off as quickly as possible.
Without a doubt it is a joy to watch your Chickens and see all their behaviour patterns. Before you keep Chickens I think most see them as being like for like, but they're not, each one has their own individual character and you'll soon get to grips with the fact they pretty much look after each other and have quite an orderly community, unlike some Humans - we can learn from them, especially Children.
Poultry Housing & Products
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