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All hens are pecking each other!!!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by DustyFlora 15, Feb 11, 2014.

  1. DustyFlora 15

    DustyFlora 15 New Egg

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    PLEASE HELP!!

    I really need some advice - I've had my year old hens for around 8 months. We have 5 rhode island reds. We got them from a local farm where they were free ranging through that environment. We free ranged them for the first 2 months, but I'm a childminder and it became too unhygienic so we now have an 100 square feet run with different height perches, sand box, and a coop on stilts which has more than adequate space. I offer them tit bits - all safe, I hang broccoli and cabbage from the beams for them to peck at and they have bark on the ground to scratch about in. I feel like I'm doing all the right things, but yet, they hen peck and have done for the past 4 months. There isn't one in particular that gets bullied, they all do it to each other? I have tried separating the main peckers (hens that aren't so featherless) for a day or so by putting them in a crate inside the run but that hasn't worked. The hens that are pecked badly have bald undersides and one now has a sore bleeding vent. (I have let her solitary free range around the garden and roost at night with the others along with treating her wounds while she recovers) I really don't know what to do and am beside myself as I hate seeing them look so sore and unhealthy. They still lay 4-5 eggs a day and seem happy. My husband thinks a rooster will help the situation, but don't want to introduce one if he is also going to follow this consistent habit they have acquired. What do I do?? I don't want to get rid of any of them….
     
  2. chickwhispers

    chickwhispers A French Hen

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    First of all Welcome to BYC![​IMG].

    Second maybe you could fill in a few more details. Do you live in town? How much space do you have on your property? Could you possibly give the hens more space? Yes a rooster will keep them better in line so to speak. But the hens are pecking for a reason, could be low protein, mites or stress. I have also read with some is is inherited but in your case since they started after smaller range space, I would guess they have a little stress. But I would check for mites and increase their protein a little and see what happens before introducing a rooster. Hope this helps!

    Good Luck with your flock![​IMG]
     
  3. DustyFlora 15

    DustyFlora 15 New Egg

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    Hello chickwhispers,

    Thank you for your fast response. I really feel like they have more than enough space for the size and amount of hens I have? I treat them for mites every two or three months and have checked and there's no obvious sign. I will look into ways of incorporating more protein. There pellets are crude protein 18.00% and there corn is 9.50%, which is ample isn't it?

    Thanks
     
  4. chickwhispers

    chickwhispers A French Hen

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    Oh yes 18% is plenty. Maybe try some probiotics if you don't already maybe they are not digesting it all and passing through instead.Have you treated for worms? Also, Sometimes to when you have one bully others follow suit.
     
  5. Rhode Island Reds tend to be a more aggressive breed of chicken among a flock than most chickens and when frustrated the will peck at each other, and by being moved from free ranging to being locked up they are probably bored and frustrated.



    Hope you can get the situation fixed because chickens that draw blood on another can become cannibalistic towards the wounded one.



    Oh and Welcome to BYC! [​IMG]
     
  6. chickwhispers

    chickwhispers A French Hen

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    Great point Marthab19531 I'd forgotten that about RIRs! Mine so far are OK, but they are more aggressive than my others. [​IMG]
     
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    How much corn are they getting? If it's say 50/50, then you're lowering their overall protein intake to 13-14%, which is too low. I'd cut out the corn completely for a while, and add other higher protein foods--I'd give them small amounts of meat. Most other things folks advise as high protein are actually lower than 20%, unless you use something like cat food.

    While the nutrition is being worked on, you also have the issue of breaking the habit--this is hard to so. I use blue-kote, but know there are anti-pick sprays, etc that can be used. One poster here I recall had great luck using Vicks Vap-o-rub...not only did the odor deter the hens pecking, the consistency also bound the feathers down to the skin and made them physically harder to pull out.

    I agree you have plenty of space, and good for you! That's pretty much the first thing I think of with pecking issues, but I don't see that as a problem here.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. DustyFlora 15

    DustyFlora 15 New Egg

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    Thank you ALL so much for your immediate response and help. I really appreciate it!

    Since posting and thinking about the protein in their food I have thought maybe I need to cut out the corn - Donrae, I'm going to take your advise and try to use just pellets, as the corn is only 9.50 and it is mixed 50/50. It's worth a try and I have a feeling this is going to be the answer. I have used anti peck spray, and this is a constant and very expensive way to conquer our problem, didn't seem to be effective, just stressful to my hens. I will most definitely try Vicks in the meantime, thank you for your advise.

    I've never used any forums with issues with my girls before, but after seeing the support and guidance that is received I will definitely use this forum again.

    I'll keep you helpful bunch posted!
     
  9. TheChickInn

    TheChickInn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A few years ago- we had a rank Ameraucana hen, which we found strange, because usually Ameraucana's are so docile. She was one of our show hens, so we didn't want to part with her, even though she was such a bully. I purchased some pinless peepers on EBAY as a last resort. It actually worked! I felt really bad putting it on- the other chickens picked on her for the first day ( they were probably trying to get even with her being such a bully to them all). After the first day, we never had a problem with her- she could eat and drink fine, just didn't pick on anyone any longer. We only had to do this in the winter months when she was "cooped up" she was great when allowed to free range in spring/summer/fall.
     

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