I was so thrilled last night when everyone tucked themselves into their houses safely for the night and I had finally achieve peace and harmony. I knew it wouldn't last forever but I was hoping for a few weeks. I got 8 hours.
I go out this morning and everyone is up and about. Always a good sign. Honey Bear is at the feeder and Pumpkin (one of her ex-babies) comes up to eat next to her and she chased her off. But it doesn't stop there. She pecked her, pulls out a feather and eats it. OMG!!!
I'm standing there in shock, disbelief and absolute horror at 6:45am in the morning. What just happened?!? My sweet Honey Bear never even pecked at my hand when she was broody. She's never pecked at ANYTHING! And she just pecked at one of her babies!
But I'm starting to understand this as normal pecking order. I mean, they call it a pecking order for a reason. But it is SOOOOO very difficult for me to watch.
I love my babies and I kill them with kindness each and every day. I hold and hug the ones who want that affection. I hand feed them treats. I scoop up poop twice daily. I buy carrots with the top on because I know they like to eat those. You see where I'm going.
But no matter how you raise your hens, there has to be an alpha and then an order of dominance from her down to the one who is at the bottom of that order. That's just how it is in the chicken world and I'm never going to change that. They come hard wired that way.
So Coco is my alpha, and then Ginger. They are the two oldest in the flock. Spice commands the third spot and Honey Bear is behind her. Those two being the second oldest members of the flock. And obviously the three Andalusians are at the bottom of the pecking order.
But what's really interesting, is that those three always seemed to be on equal footing with one another. I never saw any pecking or chest bumping between them. Until this morning. And now the three of them are chasing each other around the run chest bumping right and left. Clearly, they understand that they are no longer mama's babies but members of the flock and had better figure out their order.
I still have three feeders and three waterers scattered around their run. I don't want anyone to be bullied away from food or water. And I will keep a close eye on everyone to make sure that they are not pecking to the point of drawing blood or pulling out so many feathers as to create a bald patch. I'm fortunate to have a rather sizable run for my small flock with a small tree and LOTS of places to hide, perch, get up out of the fray, sunbath, take dust bathes, etc. So I'm pretty sure this just normal pecking order clarification and that Honey Bear hasn't turned into a bully.
But I was so brokenhearted to witness that this morning. Especially, on the heals of my feel good post last night.