Middle East Politics as a Metaphor for Chicken Pecking Order

My meat birds are now about 12 weeks old, and their days are numbered.   If I’d had the “normal” super-engineered meat bird breed – the Cornish X, I’d have slaughtered them weeks ago.    Since I got the slower-growing, more-chicken-like-as-opposed-to-ball-of-meat-with-feathers breeds: Red Ranger and Pioneer, they take a little longer.   There’s been a problem, lately though: the chickens are slaughtering each other.

Several weeks ago I came home on Friday afternoon to find one of the roosters dead in the chicken tractor.   He wasn’t the smallest rooster, and there are 2 hens smaller than him as well.   Chicken mortality happens, so I didn’t fret too much about it:  until the next week when I came home to find one of the hens 95% dead.   She had clearly been chicken-murdered – bleeding from the head.   This was the hen that I wrote about previously – she had an issue, but seemed to be doing ok.   The Chicken Death Squad apparently decided otherwise and culled her.

At this point I began to worry – would my chickens, as they matured, end up killing each other before I could kill them?    I notice them jostling all the time – they’ve done it since they were 5 weeks old – but now it seemed to be getting more violent.   One of the roosters spends a lot of time hiding under the food container – I am guessing he’s trying to stay out of the line of fire, but far be it from me to chicken-anthropomorphize.

3 months old. days are numbered

3 months old. days are numbered


I wondered what would happen if I took out the lead bully – the head honcho at the top of the pecking order.  Would that end the violence? Or would it throw the flock into chaos as the others tried to take the now-vacant King Chicken crown?

I’m no sort of poly-sci expert, but it made me think back to the days when the U.S. was debating how to handle Saddam Hussein.  Those Who Know More Than I Do noted that although Saddam was kinda a total douchebag, he still acted as a stabilizing force in the region – mediating (via dictatorship?) the rival Shia and Sunni factions.   Those Who Know More Than I Do noted that if Sadam were removed, it might create chaos amongst the factions in the absence of his “leadership.”  (I put that in quotes – and no – this is NOT a political post, it’s a post about chickens for fuck’s sake.)

Anyway, in this picture, you can see Chicken Saddam in the background – in the shadows like Darth Vader, lording over the other chickens.:

Chicken Saddam - in the background... lurking

Chicken Saddam – in the background… lurking

Actually, they were just relaxing – they weren’t being bullied at the moment – but Chicken Saddam is the biggest and most developed of all my birds (tailfeather!) and I think he’s probably the biggest chicken douchebag in my flock.   If I run a covert mission to “take him out,” however, might the result be worse than the status quo?    At the moment, the two different breeds are living harmony:

you talkin' to me?

you talkin’ to me?

curiouser and curiouser

curiouser and curiouser

I’d hate to take out the Chicken Dictator and have some rebel militant chicken faction take over with even more dire effects than the current string of chicken-murders that my flock has seen…  For now, I’m going to leave them be – but Chicken Saddam will meet an early demise if I find another dead chicken in my flock…


stay tuned.



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