This girl stole my heart one year ago. She wanted desperately to be mother hen to her three sisters – the girl wanted it bad and she campaigned hard – very hard – every day! She had my vote! I was sure she would occupy the prestigious top hen spot. The reality is that despite her best efforts, the girls decided that Etta would occupy the spot at the bottom of the pecking order and I, Etta’s overly protective foster mom, now worry about her emotional well being!! Lots of extra attention from me for Miss Etta, the Under Chick! Below is an article from poultrykeeper.com explaining pecking order.
The hen at the top of the pecking order will have first access to food,water, the best roosting place, etc. while the hen at the bottom of the pecking order has the least rights in the flock and will usually be the last to the food and will ‘skirt’ around food that is scattered for them, nipping in to grab a beak full when possible. She has last rights to food and other resources.
Once pecking order is established and birds are fully grown, it usually remains unchallenged unless one of the birds becomes stronger, healthier or matures and challenges the hen higher up the pecking order. When adding new chickens to the flock, the pecking order is upset and needs to be re-established. This is very stressful for the flock and it is usually best to keep birds of similar ages together to prevent younger birds getting bullied too much or older birds being constantly challenged for their position in the pecking order as younger birds mature.