Did you know that when we talk about any social structure having a ‘pecking order’, whilst we’re talking figuratively, it is actually based on real life observation? The phrase comes from the observation of chickens and how they organise the flock’s social hierarchy. Chickens literlaly do peck one another in order to establish their place in the pecking order – who gets to eat and drink first, who gets their choice of roosting place, who gets her preferred nest box to lay her eggs in and, in the case of cockerels, who gets to crow and mate with the females.
The pecking order doesn’t always seem to make sense to us humans either. Take out flock for instance. We have a couple of big hens and one massive one, Barbara – must be 10lb plus. In her old flock she was a bully but now, in ours, she’s bottom of the pile and often gets pushed out