Cannibalism, how to deal with it?


In the Brooder
10 Years
May 16, 2009
I have 12 laying hens. One of them went broody. So I got her fertilized eggs to sit on. She hatched out 5 chicks. They are so darn cute. Two months go by and then one of my australorps starts getting broody. I would chase her off of the nest and she would be ticked. She would get her hackles up and then I noticed her going after one of the babies. I took a good look at the babies and noticed some feathers missing up their backs. One of the babies was missing feathers and skin! It was disgusting. She was getting gange green around the area that was getting eatin/bitten up. I took the australorp out of the coop and put her in the portable run. The baby I brought in the house and ran her under warm water 3 to 5 times per day, then cleaned out her wound with perioxide. When it started to heal up used vaseline on it. She was in the house a good 4 weeks. I wanted to wait until her feathers came in before I put her back out in the coop. As of today she is doing just fine out in the coop.

Up at the coop I noticed some of the chickens were getting their tail feathers bit off. I saw a culprit or two. I removed them and put them in the portable run with the australorp. The Australorp was not broody anymore so we thought lets see how she does in the coop. She did pretty good. The other culprits went back in one at a time to see how they did. And they did just fine. The last one, Ruby was put in the coop. The others pecked at her a minute and then on they went. A few days went by and all was fine. She was the top dog for 2 years so I figured of all the chickens who were put back in there Ruby wouldnt have any problems. Today I went up there and she has a huge hole in her head. I mean huge! It is on the back of her head. The chickens (or maybe it was just one) had pecked her so much that her round head has an indent. In the indent was a pool of coagulated blood. I do not know what to do. I put her under the faucet with warm water, and peroxide. I have her in the portable run because I can not bring her in the house.

I do not know who has done this. It is so disgusting! Her head looks painful but she doesnt seem like she is in pain. I was wondering if I should put something else on it?
Also what do I do about the cannibalism? do you think the one who has pecked Ruby will move on to another chicken and eat them also?
Peroxide mixed with 50% water is ok to clean with, then put plain antibiotic ointment , no pain killers. Keep her separate and maybe get some bluecoat for the wound. What are you feeding your chickens? Maybe they want more protein. Do they free range at all?
Blu-Kot is good for wounds, too. In addition to being an antiseptic, it disguises the red color of the wound. Chickens peck red by instinct.
make sure they have enough space, animal protein in the feed helps (a few kernels of cat food works in a pinch), BOSS, maybe a flock block. What has worked best for peace-keeping among the hens is a good old-fashioned rooster. Ends any sort of squabble in a hurry with a rap or two on the offender's head.
Good luck, hopefully you can avert this behavior.
I feed them Layena Pellets. They get cracked corn for a treat. I also let them free range maybe every other day. Today I was over run with eggs and I cooked up over 40 eggs and fed them back to the chickens with crushed shells on top. It is one of their favorite foods. But this happened before I took up the eggs and shells.

Can I get BluKote at TSC? Will it affect the chickens eggs? Like should I not eat her eggs while she has it on her?
The free ranging is good, but how big is the run/coop? If they're too crowded, that's why. It's the most common cause of pecking. The layena may not have enough protein for them, and the corn has hardly any. Keep up with the eggs, other meat, etc.
The blue-kote is a topical, not absorbed systemically, so eggs are okay to eat. Sounds like you know you have to keep the victim away from the others until she's totally healed. You might need to get rid of the more aggressive hen. Or try getting a roo, as mentioned they frequently calm this type of behavior.
Ok, sounds like they are getting their protein. Is there enough roosting space? Yes, TSC carries BluCote I think. It will tell you on the label if you need to discard eggs but I doubt it since it is topical, not ingested . Are your chickens all the same size/ age? Also, is there any chance rats or other predators are getting in? I thought I had a cannibalism issue and it turned out raccoons were pulling parts of chickens out through a small gap and biting them off. Ugh.

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