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Chicken killing each other

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Smartcop, Feb 4, 2017.

  1. Smartcop

    Smartcop New Egg

    Feb 4, 2017
    I'm new to raising chicken, I now have 40 Amber Whites I've had since they were 1 day old, now 14 weeks later they start killing each other. In the last two weeks I have lost 8 chickens. I thought some thing was killing them. This morning I found them pecking one to death several had blood all over them. I was told that maybe the needed oyster shells or more protein. Has any one else had this problem. I have them in a 12' x 12' caged pen.
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Too much heat, boredom, or being too crowded are the main reasons for chicks pecking each other like that.

    Your chicks have reached that age where they need more room and something to occupy their time. I usually add roosts at about that age and put mine outside during the day, but it's usually June when I'm raising them. The only time I had pecking in the brooder was when I didn't move them out sooner.
  3. Zoomie

    Zoomie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 6, 2015
    Mora, NM USA
    Welcome to BYC, @Smartcop lots to learn here! [​IMG]

    Your space is way, way too small for that many chickens. WAY too small. When they don't have enough room, they start fighting like that. At a *minimum* they should have 10 square feet a piece. More is better! So what is happening is, as they are maturing, they are trying to carve out their own space and there is simply not enough room in there for them any more. And you might think of it as "psychological" room. You can sure cram them in there, but psychologically, they need room and space to feel happy and to thrive.

    Protein can also be a problem, if what you are feeding is layer feed, you should certainly change to a higher protein feed: a flock grower feed for example, that has higher protein. That can help too. You can add interesting things to the pen, like hang a head of lettuce that they can reach up and peck at, or TSC sells these treat cakes that go in wire holders. You would need a bunch for that many chickens, but better they peck at that sort of thing than each other. I've also hung other things, ears of corn, a pumpkin, apples etc.

    Best of luck, I hope you can increase your space, and once you do that I think you'll see this behavior go away.
  4. ChickNanny13

    ChickNanny13 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 23, 2013
    Hilo, HI
    Agree with what's said above - Way too small an area! If they're in a 12 x 12, you should have no more than 14 chickens.
  5. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 28, 2008
    Do you have an attached coop as well as the pen, or are they just confined in that 12'x12' space? Do you have any perches, hiding spaces or nest boxes for them to get away from each other?

    It does sound like you have a space problem as well as a boredom problem. I have a similarly sized coop and I only have 10 hens in it, and they have a run too. I can't imagine having 20, let alone 40, in that kind of space. Expanding their pen or letting them free range for part of the day should help with the issues you are seeing. Adding hanging cabbages or lettuces, perches and hiding wouldn't hurt.

    Ridgerunner has an excellent article discussing how much room chickens need.

  6. MasAhora

    MasAhora Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 20, 2016
    Can you divide the flock temporarily with a few in a different area(s)?
    Not a long term solution but as they are creatures of habit, creating change seems to disorient them while you figure out a longer term solution - it has worked for me a few times while I figured out plan B.
  7. Smartcop

    Smartcop New Egg

    Feb 4, 2017
    Thank you for your post. I did open the cage and allow they to room the whole yard and put them up at night. This has seemed to stop the pecking. I am in the process of building a larger coop and run but they seem to love the yard. I have also up the protein in their diet. Thanks to all that replied.
  8. Zoomie

    Zoomie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 6, 2015
    Mora, NM USA
    Great to hear you have seen improvement. Also great you are building a bigger coop and run - hah, I did that too, started with a coop I realized was too small and built a bigger one. May even build a third. Best of luck with your birds!

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