I recently taught one of my chicken workshops and as some of my students were getting ready to buy chicks (some for the first time) and to add chicks to existing flocks (some for the first time) I got a few questions on combining birds of different ages.
“I’ve heard that other birds will attack the young chicks, how do you keep them from not killing each other?”
I thought about this question the next night as I watched my 3 kids jockey for position in the back seat of our SUV. No one wanted the dreaded middle position.
“I call shot gun second seat,” one called.
“I call shot gun driver side,” another shouted.
“You can’t call shot gun before you reach the car. I call it,” a third counted.
“Well I’m getting out first.”
“Doesn’t matter, you had it last time.”
I let the arguing go on for a bit longer and when I had had enough and knew that no solution would be coming anytime soon from my lovely chicks, I turned to them and with gritted teeth, simply said “Get in now.”
All three scrambled into the car and even though one sulked the entire way (it was the youngest) we ended up getting where we need to go.
How do flock members not end up killing each other? It’s called the pecking order, each member of the flock asserts her dominance over every new addition. She’ll try to see how much she can get away with by using whatever she has in their tool box including strength, cunning, and age. It’s the way it’s done, the law of the coop
Eventually things settle down and work themselves out. The flock members manage to figure out each others role in the grand scheme of things and they all learn to get along.
But it certainly doesn’t hurt to have an older, wizened mama hen around to speed things up by laying down the law when the bickering goes on for just a tad too long.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com