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I have 5, five week old chicks in the same cage. Three partridge rock, and two old english game chickens. We have no clue what their gender is. Well, and then the other one started defenditoday the two old english game chickens (that came from the same chicken = brothers/sisters) started fighting today. One of them attacked ng itself. One of them ended up with a bitten comb and a bloody ear. Any reason for this?? This horrible fighting just started today.
 

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They have a pecking order which starts out when they are chicks ...

Just a fact.
 

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A Round American Woman
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Yes, pecking order starts when they are quite little. However I talked to a man who raised game chickens and he said that he has to separate them when they are young or the girls and boys will kill each other. I have not raised them myself, I'm just passing on something told to me.
 

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What does pecking order mean exactly? I've noticed my chicks doing this as well. Is it a way of showing who's dominate?
 

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Flocker
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The pecking order is finding out who is the boss in the group, and who isn't. Kinda like the alpha male in wolves. But they do that so that the strong ones lead, and the weaker ones follow. :)
 

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The pecking order, for what it's worth
If you are new to owning chickens and find yourself wondering why are my chickens acting that way towards one another, here's some info. that may help you gain a better understanding of life in the coop.

Each flock of chickens that contains more than one rooster actually has two pecking orders. There is the main pecking order and roosters also maintain a seperate pecking order, a men's club so to speak.

At the top of your pecking order is going to be the alpha roo (or alpha hen, if no roosters). This is the rooster that has proven himself worthy of the top spot. He does this by excelling at three things - protection, providing, and procreation. This alpha roo answers to no one. He gets the best roosting spot and pecks on any other bird he chooses.

In most cases, the alpha chooses a favorite hen. She only answers to the alpha. Other roosters or cockerels in the flock are very low on the pecking order, usually dead last. They don't get to choose anyone to be beneath them. If these lowly beasts get to mate at all, it's only because a.) the alpha is weak or b.) because they snuck around and managed to catch a hen out of earshot and sight of the alpha. Normally these omegas just do their best to blend in, staying incognito, because they don't want to draw the attention of the alpha. Often times, these roosters develop very little roo-ish looks and you may even question their gender. All self-preservation. If you start having fighting between your roosters it's because one or more of the omegas has decided he is better than the alpha and can take him in a fight; or you have two very dominant birds that are determined to control the entire flock. That's the roosters pecking order.

Then you have the pecking order that controls the entire flock. Dominant hens are at the top; right below the alpha roo (or alpha hen, without a roo around). You can tell whose at the top by observing the birds. See the hen that has the most beautiful plumage, is a great egg layer and gets to eat and choose a roost first? She's at the top of the order. Her position can be challenged too; but again, it has to be by a hen that is in top form.

The rest of the birds fit in the order downwards from there. A hen that is right in the middle has the right to go after anyone below her - you'll notice her victim averting her eyes and ducking away from any above her. The middle hen will not challenge hens above her unless she senses a weakness in the superior hen.

So that's the way it goes - you can move up or down in the order only if another bird is removed from the flock or shows signs of weakness due to health issues.

I love to observe my birds behavior; especially when they are young and still sorting out the pecking order. I've found the easiest way to tell how its developing and where each bird has ended up is by watching them enter their coop at night. My young rooster (who is turning into a fine flock leader) hops in the coop first and calls all the hens to bed; then he jumps out and stands sentry by the door. The oldest and most dominant hens go first, followed by the most dominant of the younger hens, and down from there. After all the hens are in and accounted for, the rooster enters the coop and takes his spot on the highest roosting point.

So again, for what it's worth....

By Bird_slave
 
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