A lust for flesh?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Cleotastic, Aug 22, 2016.

  1. Cleotastic

    Cleotastic In the Brooder

    Jul 23, 2016
    Suffolk, UK
    Evening all.

    Could someone advise if this is normal, please?

    I had a death yesterday, and my poor bird was partially featherless and skinless in some places, by the time I found her.

    Today all the remaining birds are targeting one of the lowest in the pecking order and pulling out her feathers, pecking at her, chasing her, and not letting her eat. It's not one bully, but most of the flock of eight. I picked her up to spray her, and one of them full-on attacked her as I did so, because she made a little squawk!

    I went in with some scratch, this evening, but couldn't hand-feed them as I do every night because they went nuts and pecked me so savagely I had to abandon the scratch and leave the coop. This is not normal for them!

    I've only had hens for a few weeks, but after I'm suddenly finding it very worrying and a little disturbing. I keep thinking of the book, 'Hannibal', and the killer pigs Mason Verger trained to kill and eat human flesh! ;) Do I have killer hens??

    The bullied hen is not the lowest of the low, she's the next one up. Also, she's the only black one, other than the one who died yesterday. Do hens see colour? It's all I could think of! After today, her poor back end is just fluff. I've sprayed her with anti-peck spray, which seems completely rubbish, in truth. It does nothing. I feel like I'm seasoning her butt for them with it, for all the effect it has...

    Does anyone have experience of hens with bloodlust after cannibalism? Please, please tell me it'll lessen as the days pass.

    I'm not sure I can continue if I have to throw them a haunch of venison, wearing full body armour every day!

    I'm so glad I joined BYC. Practical Poultry here in the UK rejected my application to be a member TWICE, maybe because I have a Muslim Christian name, (if that makes any sense!)?

    Thanks for your wonderful help and support.

  2. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    WOW! More details may help here; how many birds, ages, breeds, and size of your coop and run. Stressed birds can be pretty rough on each other, and nobody should be attacking you! Diet? I hope we can help before more bad things happen. Mary
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.

    ^^^ This. More details will help a lot.
  4. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Enabler

    Jan 18, 2008
    Agree, details would help but what I can think is they may not have enough protein in their diet
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    Chickens do discern color, and many flock owners have noted that some birds will single out chickens of a different color to harrass. I think you have more than this going on. Lack of protein, sometimes too much heat, too crowded, or perhaps an initial injury can instigate cannibalism. More details about your set up needed.
  6. Cleotastic

    Cleotastic In the Brooder

    Jul 23, 2016
    Suffolk, UK
    Ok. It's past midnight here, so forgive typos.

    I have eight point of lay birds. All hybrids. All the same age, purchased within weeks of each other.
    French Grey
    Speckled Barred
    Chalkhill Blue
    Chalkhill Pearl (leghorn)
    Chestnut Ranger Rock
    Tri Mottled Rock

    Four of these birds are laying.

    Pecking order clearly established from day 1. French Grey (Pumblechook) reigns supreme in a firm but not nasty dictatorship.

    Coop is for 15 birds, with 258" perch space and 3 nestboxes.

    Covered run 9'x12' (+ a 6' x 6' extension arriving tomorrow!) also a rain- wind-proof 3-sided walled shelter at one end of run.

    Deep litter underfoot, Aubiose in coop. Cleaned meticulously daily.

    Very good quality layers pellets free feed. Oyster free feed. Mixed corn in the afternoons. Fresh fruit and vegetables daily. Removed if uneaten.

    Recently started supplementing this with good quality dried cat food, mashed hard boiled egg, and mealworms, in an effort to boost protein.

    Elevated places and retreat accessible in run.

    Not wormed by me yet, but only been here a month, and poo is all normal and worm-free.

    Dusted for mites weekly. ACV for one week each month.

    Starting to think I've bitten off more than I can chew.

    I think they sense this. They know I'm a rookie, pretending.

  7. Cleotastic

    Cleotastic In the Brooder

    Jul 23, 2016
    Suffolk, UK
    Ahhhhh. Interesting stuff!

    Has been VERY HOT here, on and off. (British summer time)

    On hot days, I shade the run.

    OMG, do I have racist hens??


  8. 2Fast2Curious

    2Fast2Curious Chirping

    Jul 5, 2015
    We never had issues this extreme, but wild birdseed has helped fill in a lot of the gaps that flock raiser feed (which is more satisfying to them than layer feed) leaves. They may be resorting to cannibalism due to a lack of fat in their diets.
    1 person likes this.
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop

    Any chance a predator killed bird?
    Tho chickens will feed on their deceased brethren, wonder if the panic could be attributed to a predator attack.
    Rats, stoat/mink/weasel?

    How big, in feet by feet (or metric equivalent), is the coop "for 15 birds"?
    Pics would help too.
    Do they have 24/7 access to run?

    What was the timetable for combining the total of birds?
    Is it the first ones procured that are attacking the newer ones added later?
    I think you may be dealing with a territoriality/integration issue.

    Eggs and meal worms good for protein, but I'd avoid the cat food.
    Higher protein chicken ration would be better, and cut out the mixed corn and cut back on fruit/veg scraps.
    1 person likes this.
  10. chickens really

    chickens really Crazy Call Duck Momma

    Diet plays a big role with chickens.
    Google the Chicken Chick...Great information...

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