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Let’s take a Meyer Moment to talk about the social structure of a chicken flock. You’ve heard of the pecking order, but beyond being the top bird or being last on the rung, there is a unique social structure within each and every flock. The social structure is delicate and is ever-changing based on multiple factors. 

Chickens are social “flock” animals and we recommend a successful flock have at least 3 birds. Having chicken friends doesn’t necessarily mean that the chickens will be “friendly” to each other, as it all depends on their social structure.


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Transcript

Hey everyone! Welcome back to The Coop with Meyer Hatchery - where we talk all things poultry in hopes of inspiring crazy chicken keepers and educating future flock owners. We’re glad to have you tuning in for this brief midweek break as we provide a Meyer Moment to cover relevant happenings. 

Let’s take a Meyer Moment to talk about the social structure of a chicken flock. You’ve heard of the pecking order, but beyond being the top bird or being last on the rung, there is a unique social structure within each and every flock. The social structure is delicate and is ever-changing based on multiple factors. 

Chickens are social “flock” animals and we recommend a successful flock have at least 3 birds. Having chicken friends doesn’t necessarily mean that the chickens will be “friendly” to each other, as it all depends on their social structure.

For instance, a quick peck to a submissive bird is a constant reminder that the top bird is to be respected and revered. Beyond some strategic pecks, assertive birds will also block submissive birds from food, and take the highest roosting spots.

A chicken flock can be living in peace and harmony one day, and then the next day, new flock members are introduced and the social structure is upended. 

As the days go on and new members become fully integrated, you’ll notice distinctive subgroups within your flock. Usually, these groups are made of the “older folks” and then the “younger folks”, and then if you are any good at chicken math, there are many “middle-aged folks” as well!

 Each subgroup has an alpha, usually, a rooster if present, or a dominant hen if no male is present. This alpha will lead the birds around to forage, alert to danger, and defend against predators or the alphas of other subgroups. 

But these groupings do not mean that they will not interact with each other. At any given time, socialization occurs across groupings, mating takes place, hens squabble, and roosters work to assert their dominance. 

Besides new flock members, the subtraction of chicken friends will affect the social structure. Birds may leave the flock due to a predator or being rehomed. You will notice that some birds really do have particular friends, so if one of their friends is suddenly gone, a chicken will go into a period of mourning. You may notice they don’t leave the coop, have a small appetite, or just be generally lifeless.

Witnessing the social structure of your flock is one of the many joys of chicken keeping. With enough space, access to plentiful food and water, sanitary conditions, the social structure thrives. It is truly nature's way of keeping the overall peace and strength within a flock. 

We hope you enjoyed this Meyer Moment about the unique social structure of a chicken flock and the many factors that can affect the daily lives of your chickens.

Enjoy the rest of your week and as always, thank you for listening to The Coop!