Chickens eating each other....

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Ravynia_30, Dec 18, 2010.

  1. Ravynia_30

    Ravynia_30 Out Of The Brooder

    23
    0
    22
    Jun 2, 2010
    Show Low, AZ
    A few months back I posted that I had one hen (Kiko) that was pulling out feathers and bloodying the butt of another chicken (Buttercup)... I healed the injured chicken (Buttercup) in a seperate pen and put her back in with the other chickens.... Kiko promptly pulled out all her back feathers and bloodied Buttercup's back. My husband culled Kiko while I was at work. Thinking that removing the hen that was causing the issues would fix things.

    A month later... I have three bloodied hens and two hens that are causing the issues. Neither one was part of the original problem... it seems it was a learned behavior or something.

    Anyway... I don't know what to do. This morning I discovered that my favorite hen, Bones, has been plucked bald below her tail and is now bloody as well... Yesterday she was fine.

    The two doing all the pecking and plucking are both the dominant females of their flock.... and they rarely pluck/peck each other... they also eat the feathers and chunks of flesh off the hens they are pestering.

    What is causing this? I am so close to just culling all but Bones and starting over in March.

    (Edited to add Chicken names in the case that it might make reading this thread easier to understand)
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2010
  2. welasharon

    welasharon Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,949
    74
    236
    Jun 28, 2010
    North Florida
    How crowded are they? What are you feeding them?
    sharon
     
  3. Ravynia_30

    Ravynia_30 Out Of The Brooder

    23
    0
    22
    Jun 2, 2010
    Show Low, AZ
    We use the deep litter method inside the hen house... and just dirt in the coop (what my hubby calls the chicken yard). 12x 8 total size and 4x8 hen house 8x8 chicken yard... and then once a day they get several hours supervised time outside the coop... just running about in the yard.

    We feed Layer pellets and cracked corn... the corn is just given once a day in the evening... it's a treat mostly but we hope it helps them stay warmer at night as well. Additionally whatever they forage while free ranging during the day. As well as a dish of oyster shell available at all times too.

    I have 5 chickens in this situation... Three roosts at staggered heights in the hen house... 3 nest boxes in the hen house... an external roost in the coop area, a stump to play on and around, and a ramp that runs up the side of the coop to the roost in the coop.

    While they are free ranging during the day the door to the coop and hen house is propped open so they can get to layer pellets and water as well as the nest boxes.
     
  4. NottinghamChicks

    NottinghamChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sounds like an ideal setup that should be working. Are they getting artificial daylight to increase productivity? That would be my only guess is they need some down time. Other than than, perhaps it is diet related so maybe post that question as to if diet could cause this picking issue in the feeding forum. Good Luck!
     
  5. jennh

    jennh Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 21, 2007
    Lititz
    Quote:I would separate the two offending hens (separately, of course), and keep them apart for 1-2 weeks. When you put them back together, they *should* no longer be the dominant hens. JMHO,

    Jen
     
  6. Ravynia_30

    Ravynia_30 Out Of The Brooder

    23
    0
    22
    Jun 2, 2010
    Show Low, AZ
    We do have a light in the hen house... it is supposed to be for warmth... we aim it up towards the ceiling... so they have it as a nightlight and some heat... but it isn't really ever DARK in the hen house.. I betcha this IS contributing to them picking at each other...
     
  7. Ravynia_30

    Ravynia_30 Out Of The Brooder

    23
    0
    22
    Jun 2, 2010
    Show Low, AZ
    What is the cheapest and most effective way to provide warmth in the coop then? I can't afford one of the $45 infared lights... I do have a plug in "oil style" radiator heater which is supposedly pretty fire safe... but I would worry about them landing on it and burning their feet.
     
  8. MissJenny

    MissJenny Chillin' With My Peeps

    974
    4
    141
    May 11, 2009
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    I've read that feather picking is sometimes caused by a protein deficiency. I had only one feather-picker. What I gave them to boost their protein was canned salmon -- just a couple of tablespoons twice a day.It did not stop the behavior -- but it did hasten the regrowth of lost feathers.

    I have some behavior problems going on too. If nothing else, and I know this does not help, you are not the lone ranger.

    Jenny
     
  9. Cowgirlgrace

    Cowgirlgrace Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:What are your average winter lows in your part of Arizona? Seems they probably shouldn't need heat. My birds are in single walled coops and our average low is around 30* but we get down to the upper teens and low twenties and they do fine (these are adult birds)
     
  10. Ravynia_30

    Ravynia_30 Out Of The Brooder

    23
    0
    22
    Jun 2, 2010
    Show Low, AZ
    This just isn't what I was looking for when I got chickens. I was gonna have a small flock.. about 6... and I was gonna have eggs to gift the neighbors... and to eat... and I was gonna sit on the porch and watch my chickens forage and scratch...

    Instead I sit on my porch and watch the two mean chickens chase down the three other chickens and rip out feathers and flesh.. and the three injured chickens squawk and run off only to encounter another mean chicken.

    I get up in the morning and go to check for eggs and there is blood drops on the roosts and the edges of the nest boxes. I've started dreading checking on them in the morning.

    I will make a few changes, and have my hubby make me another coop .. .for the two who won't behave... and heal them and see if it re-occurs.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by