And you think you’ve had a bad day… (grrr) pecking question – again.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by PacsMan, Apr 15, 2009.

  1. PacsMan

    PacsMan Songster

    Feb 8, 2009
    Salt Lake Valley
    Sorry, first, a bit of a rant.

    It’s April 15th – This is the first time in years I’ve had to pay anything. I ended up owing the State $803! Not fun. I waited until today to file, so I could keep my sweet $$ just a bit longer.

    Then my wife and I went to the local Tea Party today. My wife was late and we missed the train. We got there late. It was snowing. And wet. My zipper broke on my coat, so my shirt got wet, and I got soaked. It was my first protest rally, and I liked the speeches, but having a cold wet shirt all afternoon sucked.

    When I got back to work, my mom emailed me and told me my Great Uncle died today. I really liked him a lot.

    I got home from work and my 2nd oldest son wasn’t picked to be a “councilor in training” for summer camp. But my oldest son was picked. So son #2 was in a foul mood when I got home.

    Then I took my wife and oldest son to get passport pictures. Of course we were late. The cop didn’t care. I got a ticket for doing 55 in a 40. Ouch, that’s gunna hurt.

    Then, to top it all off, I got home from the passport pictures, and O’Malley was being pecked up… again.

    Sure, it could have been worse, but it was a rotten day!

    Ok, off my soap box and on to my question…


    We have 12 hens. 9 are 12 weeks old, 3 of them are 11 weeks old.
    O’Malley is the only RIR we’ve got. We have Barred Rocks, Red Sex Links, an Ostralorp, and a Buff Orpington.

    I’ve had them in a 4x4 plus 4x10 foot tractor. I knew it was a little small, but figured as chicks they’d do ok. We let them out almost every day. But then they started picking on O’Malley. We took her out, tried Blu-Kote, Bag Balm, and Pine Tar. Each worked for a day or so, but O’Malley picked all of the stuff off herself and they started pecking her again.

    We’ve kept her in a separate pen for more than 2 weeks, but let her out every day with the 11 others, and no pecking problems.

    While this was happening, I built a 4x8x4 coop, put in nice high roosts, and it was perfect. O’Malley was starting to grow back feathers, so I decided to put in 3 other hens with her in the big new pen last night.

    Just one night. That’s all it took. And she has a bloody rump again today. The funny thing is, 11 of them in a small coop didn’t have any pecking problems. But, when I put a couple in with her, it’s peck peck…

    I know it can’t be too little room, because 8x4x4 is supposed to be big enough for 8 hens, and there were only 4 hens that aren’t even full grown yet!

    I’m so frustrated. [​IMG]

    Is it because O’Malley is the only “red” bird among the 12?
    Is it because she has a long tail, while the others are relatively short?
    Should I get rid of her?

    What to do what to do??

    Cheer me up with some good news, ‘eh?

  2. FrizzleFreak

    FrizzleFreak Songster

    Well, if you are truly frustrated, you can trim a bit off the beaks HOWEVER this can cause other issues, so only as a last resort.
    Causes of pecking:
    stress, lack of salt, lack of water/overheated (doubtful), too much light, boredom, high calorie food that is low in fiber, low protein food, mites (bird pecks at itself, causing blood to surface, birds are attracted to the blood) any bleeding.
    Vent picking is very dangerous, and can often end in dead birds. Also, in young birds tail feather picking is common, because the new feathers have a lot of blood in them.
    Removing the "ring leader" is often best; the other chickens may only do it because the leader does. Red lights also can help stop cannibalism because the color of blood seems to get chickens pecking at it. Give them little bits of food at a time, ang shiny things for them to peck at and play with, let them free range, all of these will alleviate boredom. Birds can also be given eye-shields (search for "googly eye girls or chickens" for a laugh on this) If nothing works, debeak. You can search for how.
    Good luck!!
  3. rufus

    rufus Crowing

    May 17, 2007
    I think they may be a little crowed. Figure on 4 square feet per bird. That would be 48 square feet in your case.

    Also, give them lots of greens, this seems to keep them busy. Weeds, grass etc. An old canteloupe or a head of cabbage will keep them busy.

    I really don't like to mix the breeds of chickens, but we do it now. Also, I don't like to mix generations. These are things you have to do when you have limited space.

    In time, the Rhode Island Red will probably move up the pecking order. They and the Orpintons seem to win out in the race for dominant positions.

    Good luck,


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