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How to Maintain Harmony in the Hen House

At around 6 weeks of age, your chickens will skirmish to establish their position in the flock’s peck order, which will regulate the flock’s social structure, and minimize stress and conflict. After the peck order has been determined, higher ranking birds use eye contact and other gestures to prevent lower ranking birds from encroaching on their space. But sometimes a nasty glare from the alpha hen isn’t enough to keep things civil in the coop, and tempers flare. Consider these tips that can help maintain harmony in your backyard flock.


-Choose a coop design with good air circulation, and plenty of space for your hens to roam. Nooks and alcoves built into the design make it easier for lower ranking birds to avoid ones that are above them in the peck order.

-Provide enough feed and water stations for your flock to prevent lower ranking birds from being chased away from a single feeder or waterer.

-If you must move your hens, avoid combining birds from different groups, as this increases stress, and peck order aggression.


-Try not to introduce new birds into an established flock, which confuses the established peck order and can lead to aggressive behaviors targeted towards the new birds, like vent picking and feather pulling. If you do introduce a new bird, darkening the lighting in the coop will make it less conspicuous to the older birds. 

-If fighting is a problem in your flock, check to see if common stressors like poor air circulation, cramped conditions, or inadequate food supply are the reasons.

-Don’t cull a bird simply because it’s at the bottom of the peck order - remember that as long as you have more than one chicken, there will always be one at the bottom of the peck order.



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