Who Rules the Roost?

A lot of chickens are blamed for being bullies, but it’s not always that simple. When you have a group (or roost) of chickens they will decide between themselves who exactly is in charge, who is second in command, who is third, and so on… The chicken who is second in command answers to the lead chicken, the third in command answers to the top two hens until you get right down to the bottom of the pack were poor old Miss Pepperpot has to answer to everyone.


Cheryl Powling's Speckledy hens have decided who's in charge
Cheryl Powling's Speckledy hens have decided who's in charge

Of course the only thing that will disturb the pecking order is the introduction of new hens. Never introduce just one hen on her own to a roost of chickens because she will get bullied, instead, try and introduce at least 3 or 4. Unfortunately there will be a number of fights in the first few days of introducing new chickens but they will soon settle down. One thing to remember is to never separate the weakest chicken; if you have to separate a chicken then temporarily remove the bully.


A beautiful white hen being introduced with her friends to the new flock
A Plymouth Rock Bantam hen being introduced with her friends to the new flock

It can be difficult watching your chickens squabble, but you have to remember that it’s part of nature, and most of the time your chickens will sort themselves out without your help. Once they have decided on the pecking order it’s smooth sailing from there, so wait it out confidently.



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Comments

Kirsteen, 6 May 2017

Interesting information on the history of chickens. Thank you.


Jane, 7 October 2014

We had two hens and introduced two more. It was awful. The first two tormented the new ones, wouldn't let them eat or drink and chased them around the run. We thought that we had made a terrible mistake until the third day when everything suddenly settled down. They now live together peacefully and seem to be thriving.


Julie, 30 March 2012

Help, I have two warrens 1year old. I introduced two more warrens at POL and it's like a war zone. The old ones won't let the new ones out of the roost, but are happy to sleep with them. One of the new birds has had some plucked neck feathers, but no blood just a bald patch. Currently have new girls in usual area and old birds in run adjacent. How long before I can try introducing them again? Do I wait until they are indifferent to each other?


Tina, 23 August 2011

Our oringinal 2 pepperpots were 12 months old when we added 2 newcomers, they were very agressive to these and we had to separate them during the day and only put them together when rootsting.this went on for over 2 weeks and we were just about to give up having tried various sprays etc. Then suddenly everyting was calm and pecking order was in place! The now all get on fine.

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