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

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