Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by jo-me, Dec 13, 2008.

  1. jo-me

    jo-me In the Brooder

    Nov 13, 2008
    Hope someone can shed some light on canniablism. My chickens have findly started laying and I am so excited that half of them are laying. Until 2 weeks ago we had the only giant red die and we found blood all over the feed bucket. We didn't examine her I guess close enough. Since I was very upset my husband just removed her from the nest and disposed of her. Now all of sudden I found a chicken with a hugh amount of her feather missing on her back and bleeding around where her tail feathers grow. I was gathering eggs when I noticed her laying on ground before I could pick her up she move out of the coop and layed outside . Then within seconds the rest of the chickens immediatly started pecking at her tail where it was bloody started tearing off flesh. I couldn't belive what I was seeing and and rescued her. After I tended to her I came back to pen to make sure no one else need to be removed sure enough another hen had a large area around her tail feathers missing and bloody but not nearly as large. Now today I findly caught site of a chicken who I am almost sure is doing this and gave her to a neighbor that I told about her cannibalism. Came back home an noticed another chicken that had a bloody vent and noticed another chicken pecking at her around her vent. One thing I did notice that the chicken I gave away was eating alot of feathers. I like to think they are getting the right kind of food. Will they all start doing this? Do they lack something? They are only 5 months old. I don't known what kind they are some look like chicken hawks they have a beard and the comb seems to be wrinkly. I got them at Ideal Poultry and are very health, I ordered the mixed ones since the last one I bought at our local store end up being eaten by coons. So I decided to try my luck with these. They are growing beautifully and was getting 12 eggs aday from 20 chickens. Now today only 5 eggs, too much stress I am sure. I have been learning so much from this forum I was ready to buy more but this time time only of one breed. But not until I learn what is causing this terrible problem. Please help. Thanks, Jo-Me
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2008

  2. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    Perhaps they need a little more protein in their diet. Shredded salmon or tuna?

    There is a spray you can buy for the areas where the chicken has been pecked.

    I'm sure if you do a search for that you'll find it.
  3. sunnychooks

    sunnychooks Songster

    Jul 21, 2007
    Besides tuna or salmon you can supplement with dry cat food for extra protein (Feathers are protein so that's why some chickens will eat feathers if they don't get enough in their diets).
    If the pecking is primarily around the vent area, check for mites or other parasites.
    A few weeks ago I found one of mine that had been pecked. She had a BIG hole on her back and the others were all pecking at it and she just sat there and let them peck. I removed her from the flock and sprayed some BluCote on it. After about two days inside I put her back outside and she is fine now. All it takes is for one to start, and the others join in. If you've removed the offender your problem may already be solved.
  4. andehens

    andehens Songster

    Aug 25, 2008
    Scenic Sierra Nevadas

    One cause of cannibalism can be over crowding of your chickies. Good rule of thumb seems to be 4 sq ft coop and additional 10 sq ft for run. Good luck on solving the problem!

  5. jo-me

    jo-me In the Brooder

    Nov 13, 2008
    Thanks everyone for your quick answer I will take everyones advise. I don't believe crowding is the problem but I think the lack of enough protein might be. But I will definitely check more carefully for over crowding. Jo-Me
  6. birdlover

    birdlover Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    Northern Va.
    Another way you can get more protein in their diet is to give them turkey starter. And while you're buying that, be sure to buy some blu-kote. That is a great help when the sort of thing you're describing happens. Chickens are attracted to the color red (that's why the feeders have red bases) and will pick and pick until it's too late if no one intervenes. I don't think it's because they're mean...they just do what's in their genes to do - peck at red. I hope you get to the bottom of this soon.

  7. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    Jo-me, I don't really know much about this problem but it seems so tragic. Maybe this will help.

    I actually found it on another university poultry site which linked to Virginia Tech so maybe there's more than one poultry expert who thinks this is worthwhile information.

    I really think you should treat the open wounds and in doing so, discourage further damage.

    Here's wishing you the very best of luck,


  8. sunnychooks

    sunnychooks Songster

    Jul 21, 2007
    Excellent information. Thanks, Steve!
  9. Jolyn

    Jolyn Songster

    Apr 5, 2008
    Northern California
    I find if my girls get bored they tend to pick on one or two of them. I try to toss in a couple handfuls of oyster shell in the mornings and take them snacks once a day. The mean girls seem to leave the two alone when i do that.

  10. sovia

    sovia Songster

    Mar 4, 2008
    Black Hills of SD
    If you do some searching on the forum, you will find that several members have been experiencing similar problems. (basicliving had a very good thread, in particular.) Unfortunately, I am one of those members who is having the same issue.

    I have given away three of the worst offenders (and also some of the best layers) because I couldn't bear to give them the axe or clip their beaks.

    I have WAY more than 4 square feet per hen both in the run and the coop. Free-range is not an option since we live in the mountains and there are far too many predators here.

    I have supplemented their water with Avia2000 and bought a Flock Block. I cut almost all snacks except for black oil sunflower seeds and meat scraps. I switched their feed from Purina Layena to Homestead Layer by Hubbard (1% more protein, but still vegetable-based protein). I have hung cabbages, kale, melons, and yes, I hate to admit this, I even bought parrot toys. I changed the tree limbs/ladders to new locations in the run. I have hung sections of a deer carcass (ugh!). I give them yogurt daily. And, finally, I have sprayed the most affected victims with Hot Pick. I also covered the roo in petro-carbo salve, vicks, and axle grease.

    To sum things up, the rooster (the worst affected) has been in a huge wire crate for over a month. The moment he is out, the hens want to eat him. Four or five of my other hens look pretty rough.

    I have spoken to the "chicken" lady at the feed store. She said she would be rich if she had a dollar for every person who has come to her with this problem in the last few months. And these are NOT inexperienced chicken people like myself. That did make me feel a little better!

    Anyhow, I spoke to a neighbor last night and he is going to take the rooster. I haven't decided if I should start all over in the spring with a new flock of all one breed. I am not sure if that would make a difference.

    Sorry, I know this isn't much help, but it is good to know you are not alone.

    I forgot to mention that I also checked the flock repeatedly for mites/lice, but never found anything.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2008

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