Ever hear of the term the ‘pecking order’? Well, this common phrase was probably initiated by someone who kept chickens, as you will see if you keep your own. In many animal groups, there are social structures known as hierarchies. Each chook has a specific social ranking. They are charge of some birds, and under the influence of others. In chickens, establishing a pecking order is an important biological process – the activities of the flock will run much more smoothly if it’s clear which birds are in charge. Sorting out the pecking order as soon as they meet will allow them to get on better in the long run.
Although an unpleasant experience, sorting out a pecking order is necessary for a harmonious flock
Watching your birds figure out who’s boss can be a pretty unpleasant experience, but the whole process is unlikely to last long. Most owners report that it takes between three days and two weeks to sort out, but you will need to watch your new animals carefully during this time and step in if you think your birds are being excessively aggressive. If one of your birds has had blood drawn, you may need to separate them from the flock on a temporary basis, as her coopmates are likley to peck at the wound. Usually, it's best to remove the bird who is being aggressive, as separating a victim is likely to lead to even more bullying when she is returned to the flock. However, if her injury is being made worse, she needs to be separated.
Another thing to watch out for is if some of your birds are being prevented access to food, water, shelter or shade. If a dominant bird isn't allowing subordinates access to these resource, then you will need to take steps to remedy this, such as putting out resources in multiple locations.