Pack / Herd / Flock Mentality

I am a big fan of nature. I love animals and I love watching their interactions. We just had a funny occurrence here between one of our chickens and one of our dogs.

Chickens, just like dogs have a Pack Mentality. Chickens have a “Pecking Order” (that is where the term Pecking Order comes from if you didn’t already know this). At mass produced chicken barns they clip the beaks off the end of the chickens. This is to ensure that they do not kill too many other chickens. When you have 10 chickens, the lowest ranking chicken may get pecked by 9 other chickens. When you have 10,000 chickens then they may get pecked by 9, 999 other chickens. Once a wound is opened up on a chicken the other chickens will continue to peck at that wound until the chicken is dead.

Back to the main story – Our Husky / Coyote cross named Enzo was eating an apple off our Apple Tree. Nine of our chickens were out running around the yard. The highest ranking chicken we have is named Mother Clucker. None of the other chickens mess with Mother Clucker. If a dog comes up to the chicken tractor she is the first one there ready to peck at them. As the Alpha chicken she has rights to more things than the other chickens. So Mother Clucker and all the other chickens love apples. Mother Clucker decides to strut over to Enzo as he is eating his apple. You will never see this instance in nature. A coyote cross or pure coyote would definitely stop eating his apple and go kill the chicken and eat the chicken. However since the chickens are a part of our pack (The dogs weren’t convinced they should be a part of the pack but since I am the leader and I said the chickens are a part of our pack the dogs agreed) order would have to be set out between everyone. Mother Clucker thinks she has the right to take from whoever she wants. So she went to take a piece of Enzo’s apple and he growled at her. She took another piece and Enzo went “Bark! Bark! Bark!” and Mother Clucker went running. Pack Structure was then once again restored. For those of you that don’t speak dog, Enzo said “Go get your own bleepin apple you bleepin chicken!”

I do love watching how animals that were never meant to be in a Pack together can then become pack members and not view each other as predator and prey. All animals as far as I know seem to have a hierarchy. When it comes to training dogs if you are not seen as the Alpha Dog then you will get no where with training. The only reason our dogs get along with chickens is that all of us have agreed that I am boss. Whatever the boss says, goes. Many people have tremendous difficulty training their dog because they do not provide clear leadership and rules. It is common to think that spoiling a dog will make them happy. This I find to be very untrue. The more you make a dog work and provide them with clear leadership the happier they are. You will also have a lot more peace within your Pack.

I would also like to take this time to remember our chicken Ginger who passed away recently. Ginger was a very sweet and calm tempered chicken. We miss you Ginger and will never forget you.