Chicken Aggression? Small spaces? Debeaking? AH!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by akhadley, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. akhadley

    akhadley Out Of The Brooder

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    So I have been a chicken owner for a total of 3 days now... but I am an animal lover to the maxxxxx so I want to give them the very best life possible. My boss has been telling me some moderate horror stories about when he raised chickens (but he isn't an animal freak like myself) and was mentioning that he debeaked his chickens because they can get cannibalistic in small spaces. He is giving me his chicken tractor which he says is 8' X 4' and 3-4' tall. I will only be putting three chickens in there ... because that's all I have! Is this going to be enough space for them? Or will they start acting scary and cannibalistic? Do I really need to debeak them? I do know that when one is sick or injured the others can attack it but I'm hoping that never happens. I guess when I envision laying hens I imagine portly little ladies who sit around and cluck all day... hate to imagine them hurting each other :( or me having to hurt them in order to "help them."

    Thoughts? Feelings? Suggestions?
     
  2. Pyxis

    Pyxis Dark Sider Premium Member

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    There's no need to debeak them. Sounds like your boss was keeping way too many hens in there - I only have heard of them getting cannibalistic when too many were cramped in way too tiny a space. That's why battery farms debeak their hens - because they stuff them in cages way too small. For three hens, 32 square feet of space is fine.
     
  3. akhadley

    akhadley Out Of The Brooder

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    Good to hear :) Thanks so much.
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Ditto. Debeaking is an abhorrent, painful practice, and has no place in a back yard flock. If commercial poultry keepers would keep their flocks humanely, it would not be necessary there either. But when birds are crammed into space such that they can never stand up to their full height, and only have cage/floor space about the size of a sheet of notebook paper, what else are they going to do but peck each other. Sorry. Rant over now. I feel just a little bit better!
     
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  5. chicksurreal

    chicksurreal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    x2 [​IMG]
     
  6. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

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    For 3 chickens, that tractor will be just fine.

    While chickens are flock animals and don't like to be alone, they also don't like to be smashed together in tight spaces any more than you or I do. When they are cramped together like that they can and often do get aggressive with each other, and if blood is drawn, it can get ugly quick. Regardless of whether or not chickens are crammed too tight together or not, they do tend to pick at wounds (even their own wounds) and if it's not stopped quickly, the one with the wound may end up dead and eaten. That's why it's important to check your birds and clean up/cover any visible wounds.

    We've got 9 chickens that all have their beaks in tact. No one has ever been mortally wounded or eaten.
     
  7. chicksurreal

    chicksurreal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We have a pullet that had somehow gotten a puncture in her thigh while free ranging, by the time I noticed it (could have only happened an hour or so before) she had pulled most of the feathers off around the area and the rest of the feathers around it were all bloody. That's actually how I even noticed what was going on. She was pulling bloody feathers out and eating them. [​IMG]

    We brought her in and cleaned the feathers and stopped the bleeding, but she had done a lot of damage to herself before we saw what was going on. I think if she had been in an enclosed space with the other 13 chickens it could have been much worse.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    If I were closed in a small space with lots of my own kind and couldn't get away, ever, and could only move the length of my body at a time, I think I'd get cannibalistic too [​IMG]



    That said, chicken can be brutal to each other, and you may be in for some surprises at some point on how they treat each other. If you only have 3 birds, and they're all raised together, and have plenty of space, that should keep the issues to a minimum. Adding birds causes a lot of stress to a flock--it can definitely be done, but there's some degree of pecking/chasing/squawking while everyone sorts out who is boss of who.
     
  9. akhadley

    akhadley Out Of The Brooder

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    I've noticed that my chicks are now sort of starting to, I guess, show dominance with each other? I've witnessed each of them flying at the others with their legs out in front - how I imagine they would try to fight. They aren't pecking each other or being super aggressive but this is a new behavior with them. I thought maybe it's because they are a little antsy and we need to take them on more field trips into our yard, anyone agree? I'm still not sure if any of them are roosters so perhaps that could be it too? I'm guessing roosters are more aggressive, but maybe not. I'm really learning everything as I go...
     
  10. Pyxis

    Pyxis Dark Sider Premium Member

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    That's normal :) They're just starting to establish the pecking order.
     

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