First our wee chickens were in the fireplace. Then we took them out to the shed. On warmish, sunny days, we started placing them in a pen so they could learn of Sun and Wind and Grass.
Next we placed them in a pen beside the Big Chicken run. With a fence between them, we didn’t think the Big Chickens could do much harm. On their first encounter, the Big Chickens pecked the Little Chickens when they reached into the Big run. After that, the Littles avoided the Bigs, who pretty much left them alone.
Finally, the day came when we thought the Little Chickens were Big Enough. We put them in the coop at dusk. The Littles freaked out. Whenever they flitted close enough, they were pecked by a Big. Greta, the lowest in the Big pecking order, particularly enjoyed herself. Rocky, Head Chicken, just knew it was her job. Baracka, the dreamer & philosopher of the bunch, participated only when necessary.
After a few minutes, the Bigs got bored and went to bed. The Littles eventually followed, holing up beneath the nest box.
Day 1 of their co-habitation was fairly placid. I spend a lot of time observing them and never saw a Big peck a Little. However, the Littles were anxious to avoid any confrontations and left the area whenever a Big strolled in. The Littles are still small. Thrice they escaped the run. The first time was straight through the gate (4″ gaps). Duh – fixed that. The second time, I found a random gap about the same size. The final time was at the head of the Chicken Tractor Train – where it abuts the front fence with its 3″-spaced wrought iron rails. I happened to be watching as the Bigs came up the Train. Freaking out anticipating the inevitable encounter, the Littles squeezed themselves through the fence rails and out onto the sidewalk. Oops.
This video highlights the majority of interactions. Big arrives on the scene. Littles freak out, freeze, or in this case, freeze and then freak out. Big Chicken goes about her business.
I am suspicious that we have not seen the end of the Big-Little Chicken Wars. I expect the Littles will remain at the bottom of the ladder for now because of their vulnerable size. But the Littles are still young kids. They will grow and, with new bodies, they will test the limits of their social hierarchy. A Matriarch may fall, the rungs of the ladder may be re-ordered. I will keep you posted.