|Victoria and Dolly Clare|
Last year, we rescued four ex-battery chickens and I soon learned that the term “pecking order” is a very real phenomenon and it can be painful to see it in action. In short, it’s how the flock establishes its hierarchy – with beaks!
Dotty the hen soon took top position with poor little Dolly bringing up the rear. But the worst-behaved hen – the hen with the most vicious beak - was the one placed in penultimate position. For a while, this position belonged to Alice. She would take a hammering from the two hens above her – Dotty and Minnie – and would then pass it on to Dolly. Dolly was the only one below her – the one hen she could dominate – and she took all her frustration out on her.
Sadly, Dolly was the first hen we lost and so Alice is now the bottom of the pecking order and it’s Minnie’s turn to be the penultimate bird and, sure enough, she passes on all the grief she gets from Dotty onto poor Alice.
In April, we added three more hens to our flock so the pecking order will no doubt shift and perhaps some other hen will take its turn at the bottom of the pile.
Latest book: The Runaway Actress, HarperCollins – a romantic comedy about a movie star who swaps Hollywood for the Highlands.