Pecking Order (My first blog post, 5 years ago)

Sweet Butterscotch after healing.

Our sweet hen, Butterscotch is at the bottom of the pecking order and was quite injured as a result. "The pecking order is a well-defined hierarchical pattern of behaviour that manifests in flocks. There is a ‘top bird’ to which the rest will defer, often giving way at the food container or generally getting out of the way. The top bird is often a cock, but in the absence of a male, an old hen may hold the position. She may continue to hold sway even if there is a male, if he happens to be young and nervous. The pecking order extends downwards (just as it does in human societies), with the weakest having to survive as best as they can, dodging the onslaughts of the more powerful. The pecking order may also extend sideways, with a previously untouched bird being attacked if, for example, it becomes ill or sustains a wound that attracts the unwanted attention of the other birds."

When we initially took her to the vet where they recommended that we put her down, the injury was too deep. We decided not to do that but to try and nurse her back to health as best we can. The vet washed, cleaned and trimmed some feathers then made a little cone to put around her neck so she wouldn't get into a bad habit of picking the injury. We are also now giving her some antibiotics to help prevent infection. We have built a new little ccop for her, near her old flock but separated. I think she may never go back in with her old flock. So far it seems to all have worked, she even laid an egg yesterday.

Tips for helping birds at the bottom of the pecking order 

1. Give your birds plenty of places to perch. This allows for those birds near or at the bottom to get away from their attacker.

2. Don't let your birds get bored.

3. If the bird at the bottom of the pecking order has a wound that is bleeding, it will (oddly) attract the attention of all the hens. They will be curious about it and often will begin to peck at it too.

4. Best bet is separate this bird from the flock, put her in the infirmary and let her heal. In my case butterscotch got her own coop near the the other hens and never returned to the original coop.

1 comment:

IamthatIam publishing... said...

Wow - your chickens are the luckiest in the world. Thank goodness for you : ) !