I remember asking her how she decided which one to take. She said that when she went out to get their eggs, whichever one pecked at her the most would be the next one to go. I asked her if that worked, did it send a message to the others. She very flatly said no, they are too stupid to understand that but it makes me feel better. I just thought that was funny and somehow is something I remember.
We had multiple flocks for eggs when I was growing up, and they were usually placid but some hens were so aggressive that I wish we had made dinner of them.
One in particular systematically pecked to death every other hen, working down the pecking order until it was the only one left. She was eventually taken out by a fox. We raised them all together from chicks, so I have no explanation for it. As the Simpsons put it, some animals are just jerks.
Is this where the term "pecking order" comes from? It seems particularly apt in this case.
Wouldn't it have started with the weakest one?
> Negative reinforcement was one proposed option. The suggestion is to stand by the chicken yard with a loaded water gun and squirt a bullying chicken as soon as it pecks at its target. Negative reinforcement isn’t exactly a groundbreaking idea and this didn’t strike me as a tactic that I wanted to pursue further, although the mental image of a school administrator blasting a bully in the hallway with a SuperSoaker was enjoyable nonetheless.
Maybe school administrators can't blast bullies. But they can ignore bullies getting blasted. When I was 9-14, I changed schools a lot. So I tended to get bullied. But I was typically the top math and science student, so teachers tended to like me. So when I blindsided bullies, they played dumb.
The big shots would peck any insolent runt who tried to steal a bite. They'd sit down to relax after they'd had their fill but still wouldn't allow the smaller birds to feed. I lost quite a number to pecking injuries and outright starvation - in a cage filled with food.
I however enjoyed turning the bullies into the bullied by isolating them for a few days and reintroducing them.
Broilers on the other hand were a joy to own. All they cared for was food, water and a clean, dry spot to rest. It's a pity they shit too much.
You recreated the chicken version of an American prison, no where in nature would you find a gathering of 50 male chickens in tight living quarters. They, and humans, aren't built for that sort of living situation and it is unsurprising that behavioral problems materialize.
My favorite flock composition was a base of all female birds, add in a cockerel and see how he and the hens interact. If you find a good match leave him there and then as new male chickens are born watch how they interact with the current cockerel. Sometimes they get along fine with each other and you can leave them, other times they go at each other like mad and then I'd usually kill the younger male. I never liked broilers because _all_ they liked was food, they were just so boring! I like curious chickens!
I do not beleive that industrial breeding is selecting for anything that makes such prison life tolerable. Birds in production generally aren't reproducing, so nothing in the henhouse is affecting evolution.
Pretty remarkable how short a period can create some monstrously different creatures, even if they are still technically sexually compatible - not that I think a wolfhuahua would be a good idea!
But modified? Yes. They trim their beaks and claws.
Edit: See https://countrysidenetwork.com/daily/poultry/feed-health/tri...
Is it only American prisons that hold males in tight quarters?
That reminds me of the story of a baboon tribe Robert Sapolsky studied:
"The males [...] had contracted bovine tuberculosis, and most died between 1983 and 1986. Their deaths drastically changed the gender composition of the troop, more than doubling the ratio of females to males, and by 1986 troop behavior had changed considerably as well; males were significantly less aggressive."
I wonder if a similar phenomenon would occur within a flock such as yours (or within chickens altogether)
What was surprising to Sapolsky and scientific notable was that the lower aggression continued even when the troop returned to the original gender composition several years later, including new males which had no genetic relatives with the troop. The theory is that a culture of low aggression was introduced by the eradication of the aggressive males, and new males simply adapted to that culture when they joined.
Though, I'd like to mention that most chickens aren't bullies. In fact, I'd say something like 1 in 10 or 1 in 20 is a bully . The rest just get along.
Now, if you want to see a really mean bird, go watch some turkies for a while.
 I grew up around a lot of chickens.
...and if that's not enough, wander within 50' of a Canada goose. Those things are powered by distilled spite and angry honking.
(Apologies for hiking hijacking the thread, but I need to complain about the geese)
I grew up in the Boston area. When I was younger, there weren't too many Canada geese around, but by the time I left after graduating high school, they were basically everywhere all year round. I'm guessing that they've come even further south than that now (if they hadn't already). Given the amount of faeces in basically any sizeable open grassy area in the town I grew up, it seemed pretty clear they weren't just visiting any more.
They are also stupid and I've heard many stories of them wandering as a group, crossing paths with a dog and the whole flock getting wiped out.
Her ducks, on the other hand, were vicious bastards.
I imagine dinosaurs behaving like chickens, and that's a scary thought. Chickens will eat pretty much anything organic and a giant chicken would have no problem eating people.
They had a fenced outdoor area they could wander around in, but they always ate everything that grew, so it was just dirt. We did let the chickens out of their pen in the late fall and winter when we didn't have a garden planted. They were really happy roaming around and pecking at things. They'd all wander back into their coop in evening to go to sleep, so all I had to do was close the door at the end of the day.
Hmmm... I did the exact same thing. Only difference is that I did it in Stardew Valley. =D
I remember when I was growing up we also had about 20 chicken, they would clean the yard. They would clean any potato peels, any leftovers (we were giving them all leftovers apart from meat). They really eat everything!!
If you converted them all to humans, they would be a bunch of jerks of breathtaking stupidity. The Biff Tannens of Back to the Future. I love that Sarah French is looking at how to mitigate the bullying.
Even in this configuration, the chickens were massive assholes to each other. Chicken rape is the worst too, the hens scream and run like crazy. Feathers fly.
We had many hens, and the only one that was a bully was the bottom of the pack. We had babies and this one chicken would try to bully the babies. I think being the bottom of the pack, it might be understandable.
We've also had a few roosters. Two of them were absolutely docile and really lovable. The third, although lovable, really was bossy with humans, but he was a really good protector of the hens. He took his job seriously.
In my experience, when a company is growing quickly, customers are abundant, there are more new projects than people to do them, and everybody's stock options go up each year, people tend to be cooperative, energetic, and generally delightful to work with. Once growth slows, promotions & raises stop coming, exciting new projects are scarce resources, and customers don't really care what you do, the office politics gets insufferable. It's like as soon as people run out of worthwhile things to do, they invent oppressive status games to pass the time.
My recollection of middle & high school was similar. When kids are engaged, learning things, able to pursue their interests, and have adequate adult attention, they're cooperative and well-behaved. When they're all corraled into the same track and have to compete for grades & attention, they get nasty.
"So, rather than starting off my research with the deep dive into research papers, think pieces, and news articles that’s all too familiar to me from past endeavors, I decided to embrace lateral thinking."