Cannibal chicks!

Sunny Side Up

Count your many blessings...
11 Years
Mar 12, 2008
Loxahatchee, Florida
I wonder if this is behavior that will be repeated, or if these chicks were just taking advantage of an unusual opportunity.

I have 18 chicks, RIR & SLW, 6-8 weeks old, in a large PVC tractor. This afternoon I came out to find one of the SLW stuck on his side halfway under the bottom of the tractor and many of the other chicks pecking at him. He was in a bare place where they dust bathe, he must have dug down too deep and gotten lodged under the bottom edge of the tractor, and couldn't get loose.

I didn't know whether to be disgusted or amazed. Disgusted to find that the chicks had not only pecked the feathers & skin off his back, but they'd pecked a huge hole in his backside so I could see far into his abdominal cavity. But amazed that this chick was still alive, alert, breathing, and not yelping, not making a sound.

I was also both grieved & grateful. Grieved that the chicks had helped themselves to a cockerel chick that was going to be my family's dinner, but grateful that they hadn't wasted a more valuable pullet.

Do you think they might do this again, or are incidents like this usually done on impulse, motivated by unusual opportunity? How could I keep this from happening again?


Runs with Deer
11 Years
Jul 14, 2008
Derby Kansas
Not sure, I had a duck in with chickens and they pecked almost his whole scalp off but we cleaned it and it healed up nicely. Maybe they saw blood and just kept pecking.


8 Years
Apr 22, 2011
We are trying to figure out what is going on with our chicks/ducks...we got four ducks a couple of weeks ago and within two days two were dead, one with its head missing. Yesterday, we got three chicks and four more ducks...this morning one of the chicks was missing...we think we saw some entrails. Then this afternoon we found one of the ducks with all of the feathers stripped off of its neck and head (dead). Do we have crazy cannibal ducks or something? Is this a usual occurence?


9 Years
May 3, 2010
Northern Virginia
We are having cannibalism issues with our chicks this year. Once it starts you might have a permanent issue.

We have found 3 of our 24 are feather picking. Which turned to stripping half the feathers off a young cockeral who I pulled out of the pen bleeding heavily. We separated our biggest problem pullets for a week. Put one back in today. And guess what, instant picking again!

The pullets are now going into a pen to be grown out and processed for meat. No one else in the pen are showing any picking or cannibalism issues. Over half our chicks are covered in Blu_kote after being injured by just the three pullets.

We can't get the issue to stop.


Sounds more like a predator than cannibalism. Missing head makes me think raccoon. Missing completely with no trace means fox in our area.
Are the birds well protected in a predator proof run/coop/house? You need to figure out if the attack is coming from the outside (predator) or inside (cannibalism). I would not get any more birds until you can figure out the issue.

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