Ex-bats won't stop pecking tail bases - Now bleeding


May 13, 2015
I've had my ex-bats 4 weeks now. Pecking order was sorted but about a week ago they started pecking eachothers backs, esp round the base of each others tails. They are now all doing it and all have red sore bits and bleeding stumpy quills.

I started them on smallholder range layers pellets, changed to spillers last weekend. I can't free-range them as we have foxes. I have three in a 12x8 run, with mostly wood shavings. They have logs, a bench, eglu, and a compost/dirt area.

I have washed the areas, used wound spray (with purple colour) and anti-peck, but they won't leave each other alone. Not sure how to separate all of them or if I need to.

Can you help?


In the Brooder
May 3, 2015
I'm guessing that "ex-bats" are hens that were raised in battery cages and/or for egg production? Some birds, like Black Star hens and Muscovy ducks, undergo some really wicked personality changes after being housed somewhat tightly and then transported to a new location that's more open (but still enclosed like your 12x8 run). Even if the birds were comfortable in transit, some start picking like mad after a time.

Because you've had the birds for several weeks now, I wonder if the birds are experiencing some other form of stress. You said about a week ago they started pecking, and about the same time you changed the feed. Could it be the change in feed and the protein levels within the feed?

Another less drastic option would be supervising the hens in the yard for 10-15 minutes every day or so, which would allow them to focus their energy on browsing instead of picking. If the picking does not slow down in a day or so, I would recommend separating the birds for a few days before trying to reintroduce them to one another.

I would be interested in reading other thoughts/opinions regarding this issue.
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6 Years
Mar 1, 2013
Louisburg, KS
I'd suggest a bump in protein in case they are picking for want of it (feathers take protein to make, so the boost could do them some good just to regrow them). Bonus if you can do it with some distractions to make it not so tempting like sunflower seeds scattered around to scratch for, etc. And non-protein dense distractions might help too until feathers grow back, like a head of cabbage in the run to pick at.

Since it's focused around their tails, any chance they've picked up a pest (lice/mites/etc)?

Those are the only suggestions I've got.


5 Years
Aug 11, 2014
Magnolia, Texas
I've found that usually ONE hen will start it, and the rest catch on... If you can find the instigator, separate her and see if it quells the picking. Isolating her might break the habit, too.

Also, as suggested, higher protein for feather growth, and distractions... Grab a plastic water bottle, poke holes in it, and fill with scratch... They'll mess with that thing for HOURS! Chicken soccer! :D

Keep us posted!


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