Hot Docs 2017: Pecking Order

A club of New Zealand poultry breeders prepare their birds for the National Poultry Show in Pecking Order.  For then members of Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club in New Zealand, breeding and displaying the best chickens has been the pride of the club for nearly 150 years. As preparations begin for the 2015 National Poultry Show, from infighting begins to develop between current president Doug Bain and younger members such as Mark Lilley and his teenage son Rhys. Despite the conflict, the members of the club strive to have the perfect chickens ready in time for the show.

Pecking Order dives beak-first into the world of breeding show chickens in New Zealand. This is a very competitive industry, with a very strict set of standards written by main judge Ian Selby. Pecking Order follows a number of members of the Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club as they breed their chickens, with the ones that don’t make the cut often ending up on the dinner table.

On its surface, Pecking Order is a very lighthearted and humorous documentary about the competitive world of chicken breeding. However, the film also looks at the efforts of the Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club to modernize and attract younger members, which results in some infighting. While little more than a public interest story, Pecking Order is a documentary that is still good for a chuckle and a cluck.

7 / 10 stars


  • Saturday, April 29, 4:15 PM – TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
  • Sunday, April 30, 10:30 AM – Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
  • Saturday, May 6, 10:00 AM – TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).