Bare Bottoms and Pecking!


11 Years
Jun 19, 2008
Durham, NC
My chickens are pecking each other! I think I have isolated the main culprit (she is in a dog kennel in the house *sigh*) but there may be more doing it. 10 of 12 chickens have bare butts and some are even pecked on the underside. I have tried the following:

Black stuff you put in the water (I can't remember the name! I got it from Murray McMurray)
Cat Food sprinkled in w/ their scratch
Live Crickets and Mealworms (mail ordered) (I just did this yesterday but they ate $30 worth of bugs in about 30 seconds so I can't keep doing it!)
Fried Eggs (3 per day)

They are on layer pellets (vegetarian), get yogurt w/ flax seeds or oatmeal w/ bananas and flax seeds every day. They also get greens (spinach, cabbage, lettuce, greens or mesclun) every day. They get scratch every day, which is a mixture of commercial scratch, shelled sunflower seeds and wild bird food (mostly black oil sunflower seed). They also get grit and calcium every day (either oyster shells or eggshells mashed up). I also give them apples, pears or bananas or whatever fruit I have on hand. I just can't imagine that it is a dietary deficiency. They free-range in the afternoons (some days) and on the weekends.

What am I missing!? I have heard the peepers can help but that seems really mean and I don't know if she will be able to eat/drink properly. I don't want to make the offender's life totally miserable. Should I try saddles? I am worried that she will just peck them somewhere else.

If anyone can make me saddles, I would be very happy to pay for them. Or, if someone has an *easy* pattern. I am a terrible seamstress.

Please tell me your ideas! I need help! My wonderful, joyful chickens are starting to really stress me out!
It's really hard to say what it could be. Sounds like you can rule out diet. Could be mites, or (I know this will sound odd, but it's happened to me) too much heat. Could even be boredom or they don't have enough room to spread out. All you can do is try fixing it by process of elimination. I hope you're able to figure it out .......
I have an 8'x8' coop with a 12'x 8' run. There are 5 nest boxes and and a bench they sometimes stand on. They can also get on top of the nest boxes (there is a perch). They (most of them) roost in the rafters (the pointy part of the roof is 12' high).

I have 12 chickens.

I don't think it is heat. It has been pretty cold here. I do have a heat lamp and a panel heater that I turn on at night if it feels cold.

Do they sometimes just develop bad habits? Is there a way to break them of it?
I think they get bored. Let them free range for a couple of hours a day.
I have 10 Rhode Island Reds in a 8X16 run. They get out to run and scratch a couple of hours a day. I have seen them go at each other, but free ranging keeps them out of each others feathers if you know what I mean.
I let them out whenever I am home but I work a 9-5 job and commute 45 mins each way. Daylight savings time helps, though! I let them out each evening on all day on weekends, when I can.

Their run does not have grass (yeah, right! It has lots of mud, though!) but I do give them lots of "salad" each day. I even hang cabbage and lettuce from a beam in their run and make them jump for it.

Also, I am pretty sure it is just one chicken doing all the pecking. I have her isolated now, so I can check my theory!
I'm having the same problem. Did you ever figure out what the problem is?

I have a thread going under "Feeding & Watering..." because I was thinking the problem may be them not getting enough protein. My feeding regimen is almost identical to yours with the exception of BOSS. Others on my thread seem to be in agreement that it is a deficiency in protein. I'd love to hear if you've found any other problem causing the "bare rears".
I think that it can't be a deficiency in protein anymore since I upped their intake so much! I think it may be more habit now. I am going to make them some saddles tonight. Maybe once the feathers come back they won't do it anymore. I think I only have two culprits. It is very frustrating! I hope you have better luck than me!
If it is habit, I may be in the same boat as you now--it has been going on for a while now. Maybe not.

I've increased the protein, but only for the past few days, so I can't tell anything so far. Someone else mentioned on my thread to make sure they have plenty to keep them busy in the coop/run if you can't let them free-range. One suggestion was hanging cabbage just out of reach to make them jump for it.

Hope the saddles work out for you.

Good luck!

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