Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Room at the Top?

Tilly has been our head hen for as long as we have had chickens.  She is a wonderful leader.  She is thoughtful, compassionate for the little ones and fair.  When the girls free-range, she is careful never to wander too far from home.  In the evenings, she remains outside until everyone is in the coop.  Once she is satisfied that everyone is safe, she then retires for the evening.  The only time when she is not perfect is when she hogs the treats.  For that, I can’t blame her.


Our pecking order two weeks ago:
Tilly
Oyster Cracker
Sunshine
Dottie Speckles
Autumn
Feathers
Dolly
Fifi

Dottie Speckles was introduced to our flock last March.  She and Fifi are almost a year old.  Both are laying eggs but other than that, could not be more opposite.  Raised together, you would never imagine that Fifi is content at the bottom of the pecking order, while Dottie Speckles will not be content until she reaches the top.

A couple of weeks ago as I was giving the girls their late morning snacks, I noticed that there had been a scuffle between the Buff Orpingtons and Dottie Speckles.  All three had injuries to their combs.  The blood had dried and what occurred will always be a mystery.  To me, except for the injuries, everyone seemed to be getting along and happy.  Of course I was concerned, but I did not notice any differences in the way the chickens were behaving and their minor wounds were soon healed.

Yesterday,  I caught a glimpse of  Tilly.  She was stretching up high to reach a treat and I noticed that patches of her neck feathers under the wattles were absent.  She also had an exposed downy patch at the base of her tail.  I took her out and held her.  There was no blood, no mites and she seemed happy.  I was stumped.  I could only think that she was being picked on, but by who?  Last night as I was falling asleep in bed, it dawned on me.  Dottie Speckles was likely responsible.  Two weeks ago, the fight between Oyster Cracker, Sunshine and her was most likely over pecking order.  The only chicken now keeping Dottie Speckles from reaching the top is Tilly.

I was sad and I felt bad.  Dottie Speckles is a true bully and she has worked hard to get to the top.  Blood has been shed, feathers have been pecked and she struts around the coop.  I am worried.  I understand this is natural, but what will the flock be like with a bully at the helm?  Tilly is such a graceful leader.  Dottie Speckles is a reckless chicken.  She pecks at the little ones when they are not even near her.  I have come to determine that she is downright mean.  I am worried.  Apparently in the chicken world, there is only room at the top for one.  I am definitely going to have to think this through.

Our Current Pecking order:
Dottie Speckles?
Tilly
Oyster Cracker
Sunshine
Autumn
Feathers
Dolly
Fifi

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Hello friends, welcome! Follow along on our chicken, beekeeping, gardening, crafting and cooking adventures from Cape Cod.

  • It's hard watching nature take its course, isn't it?! Scrappy, the benevolent leader of our flock since day one, was getting her head pecked to pieces. We never saw anything happen during the day and couldn't figure it out. Finally, we started taking a flashlight and quietly sneaking peeks into the coop at night. Bunny, a pure Ameraucana, would sit there on the perch methodically pecking Scrappy's head. Scrappy wouldn't move, just sit there in the dark taking it. We tried separating Bunny from the others for a few days and then a few weeks at a time but that only made her openly violent when she was returned to the flock. Finally we just had to get rid of her. We still miss her blue eggs. Sadly, she and her new flock were wiped out by a dog just a few weeks later at her new home 🙁

  • How old is Tilly now? Sometimes it is a good idea to give the one with an attitude a time out from the flock for a couple of days. Out of sight. Then when they are reintroduced they are taught a bit of a lesson.
    It's tough the life of a chicken. We love them and want them to get along and love each other. But sometimes it's not like that.
    You could have a go at the pinless peepers. I've never tried them. The flock mistress has. Perhaps she'll pipe in.

  • Thank you christopher. What was happening in your coop just might be the same thing going on in ours. The moon has been incredibly full and bright these last few evenings. Thank you so much for making me want to investigate.

  • Hi Rugosarosefarm. Tilly will be two this Spring and Dottie Speckles will be one. Thank you for the suggestions. I'm going to see what I can do to make it work. I just want to be realistic too 🙂

  • oh,sweet Tilly. I've never met you but I love you. God bless your sweet little heart and I just hope you are always happy in whatever order in life you become. Bless you for your peacefulness and kindness you show and may we all become more like Ms. Tilly. Kathy Woody

  • Thank you Kathy Woody! Thank you for leaving such a lovely comment.

  • Stumbled on your blog. What wonderful photos of your chickens. Seems like quite an adventure!

  • Thank you for stopping in Sweet Posy Dreams!