Fighting, Too Much Violence how do I stop it?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jrvdominican, Aug 13, 2013.

  1. jrvdominican

    jrvdominican New Egg

    Aug 13, 2013
    I have a serious fighting issue. First off, My Male Turkeys for some reason always gang up on my ducks? The Roosters tend to fight, The Guineas fight amongst eachother and I dont know what to do. I heard that if you buy a Goose the Goose will break up the fights?? I dont know what to do. Any ideas? And yes I know i got a lot of birds here. I got :

    Guinea Fowl
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    You didn't give any information on numbers of birds or the amount of space that you have, or the ages of your birds. All of those can have an influence on animal behavior.

    My first guess is that you don't have enough space, most species tend to hang with their species and ignore other species around them, unless they can't because of not enough space or not enough food.

    I would suggest separating the birds by fencing, reducing the numbers to fit the space, and getting rid of anything that is aggressive. I would not add a goose or geese to this at this time.

    Mrs K
  3. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 8, 2013
    I've had turkeys, peacocks, geese, chickens and guinea fowl all sharing the same yard, 2 cages and 5 acre paddock before. Not for long but I didn't see any reason it could not be prolonged; if it's achievable even once it can be replicated. The reasons why it didn't last long are varied and detailed below.

    But it can be done peacefully if you take a strong stance against those individuals inclined to violence, and by strong stance I mean cull or rehome. For the majority of the time it was peaceful but I culled some geese and ganders for violent attitudes and left those that could get along with turkeys, chooks etc. The violent fight-starters are in the minority but they make enough trouble to keep the whole flock stressed 24/7 and give the impression they're all just incorrigibly violent creatures, but they're not.

    Here's my experience, anyway. How it went: Peacocks decided to abandon the place quickly (within two weeks) but there were no fights. Guineas, I abandoned early (as in, rehomed) due to them trying to eat turkey babies. They never reached adulthood on my place, so I have no advice on how to get them to get along with each other; mine did, but they were juveniles, and my issue was with them attacking turkey babies. Culling the violent trouble-starter seems to be the way to go in general though.

    Eventually I also rehomed the remaining geese, because their family bond was too strong and the increasing depletion of their flock into our stomachs was making them more and more anxious. (We never culled in front of them, and were never violent or anything like that, but they couldn't cut it as livestock kept for meat because they missed each family member too much. So they suffered and stressed and I have rules against that because happy meat is healthy meat).

    The geese did not break up chook fights, ever, though they did bully my chooks for the first little while. I ate the most violent ones, and the nicer ones learnt to get along with poultry. I lost some good ganders to them taking nighttime flights into poles, fences, etc. There was one huge showdown between my last gander (nasty bird, that one, hostile to humans) and my only adult tom turkey at the time, because the tom was rolling eggs out from under the geese and trying to sit on them to brood them. The tom won by a narrow margin. He had never been violent before or after that. Some tom turkeys have quite a lot of maternal instinct and take offense at seeing any female except turkey hens sitting on eggs. They think all eggs are turkey eggs.

    For a while, my turkeys (from the first lot I got) were too violent, but again it was mainly due to one bully, in this case, a stupid chicken. There was one nasty rooster I named B*stard because he abused my hens and attacked my face. First rooster we culled. Hens refused to mate with him, that's how much the rest of the flock hated him. They would crouch, keep their tail down and just refuse to mate and he'd start ripping out all their feathers in anger.

    He would wait until the turkeys were relaxing, lying down or with their backs turned, and attack them. Once they turned around he'd flee. But they would all chase and gang up, and turkeys can get stuck in killing mode, as you've probably seen with your toms. I trained them to stop when told with clapping, shouting, etc whenever they started making their angry noises, and if they didn't listen I'd chase them around kicking their tails or throwing very soft small objects --- never connecting with their bodies with either my foot or any real force with thrown objects. Soon they were more worried about me than chasing the rooster. This worked for the first lot, especially once I separated and culled the nasty rooster who kept starting it. The turkeys were destined to be eaten anyway, but I needed them to reach adulthood for that. The bad rooster nearly forced my hand there. My other roosters quickly learnt to not square up to a turkey, and that was all; peaceful from then on.

    But this lot had come from someone who breeds toms who attack whenever your back is turned so the toms started doing this to humans and the females as adults were too scrappy, always looking for a fight, so I culled the lot and later bought in new turkeys from another place. These were much better but did include the male who fought with the gander, which was a once-off anyway. No issues once the geese were gone, though the new female did get violent on another turkey hen she disliked. But that hen had the rain-drowning issue, that inbred spasm that makes her neck twist back whenever she hears water drops. She had to be culled anyway. She was a nice girl though.

    With the chooks, I steadily culled for the following faults: bringing excessive violence to a hierarchy dispute; drawing blood more than once; harassment or unwillingness to be peaceful; aversion to humans; aggression towards chicks; aggression towards ill or injured birds; males abusing females or being clumsy as a rule, not just because they were young/inexperienced; males who would not listen when a hen protested she wasn't wanting to mate; males who tried to mate with hens who were trying to lay on the nest; and of course, aggression or sexual attraction towards humans. This may sound like I culled the majority but it was in fact the minority, and the most severe faults among them arrived in the first generation with chooks I bought in and did not breed myself. The lesser faults cropped up occasionally for the next few generations and I culled for them, but the violence was almost 100% gone with the first generation.

    This is partly due to freeranging, not breeding nasty birds, and feeding them a rich diet. Kelp is a complete multivitamin and mineral containing feed item you can supplement them with. It's just seaweed, but once their entire nutritional needs are being met, they can be overpopulated and not mind at all. (It's a large part of how I can run a 50:50 ratio of roosters to hens peacefully). Often the 'complete' feeds from the stores are survival rations rather than the full spectrum of everything they need, and this leads to them being aggressive and anxious because the solution to their dietary deficiency is to depopulate so they receive more nutrition. It triggers powerful instincts. It helps to not breed from commercial hatchery birds, which often have warped social instincts at best, and are often the most violent, cannibalistic, baby-killing chickens of all.

    In a nutshell if you amp up their nutrition and kill/rehome those inclined to start fights nonstop, you will very soon have a peaceful combined flock. I can't speak for birds caged nonstop but I doubt you're doing that with so many species. What behaviors you allow are being reinforced every time they are successfully acted upon, and will become behavioral patterns that will be inherited by the offspring. It's fairly crucial to break the habit/pattern of violence. Often the only way to do that is to cull the violent ones. Whatever your choices, best wishes with it all.
  4. MelissaTXRn

    MelissaTXRn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 3, 2013
    You may want to research how much space each bird needs. Space was my first thought. Hope they stop soon :)
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I agree on the space issue. How many birds, what ages, and how much space? Sounds like they're telling you they're overcrowded and unhappy.

    Last edited: Aug 13, 2013
  6. jrvdominican

    jrvdominican New Egg

    Aug 13, 2013
    Space is not the problem, I have a ton of space. At the same time I have a lot of birds. My turkeys are a little out of control. For example when one of my ducks was on her way to her nest 5 male turkeys began pecking her and chasing her, so I stopped it. When I seperated my turkeys away from everyone else, the turkeys became even more violent and began fighting eachother. I dont know what to do with them. When they are together alone they fight and are unhappy and when they are outside they pick on the others.

    Anyone ever heard that Geese break up fights? I heard it from somewhere wanted to know if anyone here knew that this is valid.
  7. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 28, 2008
    Well, how much space exactly, and how many species of birds and the number of each? I certainly wouldn't add yet another species without correcting the problem that you have.

    Without knowing how many birds and how much space you do have, I can only make a couple of suggestions. The first thing I would do is get rid of the problem turkeys. Either rehome or enjoy with mashed potatoes and gravy. In your first post it also sounds like you have too many roosters. I'd put them second on the list to rehome/eat.
  8. cgmccary

    cgmccary Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 14, 2007
    NE Alabama
    I have chickens and Toulouse Geese now. My Toulouse will kill a chicken if they can get it cornered, but the geese don't go hunting chickens or anything(it is a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time) -- the chickens just stay clear of the geese. My geese will even attack my 90 lb dog. The dog could kill them but I have scolded her for fighting back so she just runs from the geese. So, do NOT add geese to the mix. The only animal my geese won't attack is my donkey. They did it one time and the donkey tried to stomp them. Heavy breed Geese can move fast and fly short distances if they have too.

    I got rid of my Guineas because they would gang up on my roosters. I did not worry about Guineas hurting each other though as they are tough in a fight (and they will quit before it gets too much). I also had turkeys. I had blackhead on the premises so had to get rid of them. Turkeys could be aggressive with roosters so I had to protect roosters from them (even the turkey hens).

    I agree that your birds must have lots of space-- mine run free so that is how I avoid your problem.
  9. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 8, 2013
    Quote: Since my geese didn't, it's safe to say that as a generalization this holds no water. No, geese as a species do not automatically break up fights. Some geese may. Mine didn't. They liked to bully though. Humans as well as birds. Careful culling took care of that.

    Space is not so much of an issue when their mentalities are peaceful. Mine had 67 acres to roam but never left the 6 around the house. So I had a continual flock of over 100 birds, of mixed species, present at all times in the yard and paddock near the house. I cull troublemakers and the peaceful ones breed more peaceful offspring. You can have as many roosters as you like, as long as you cull the violent ones and feed a nutritious enough diet for them to not have the instinct to depopulate kick in. It really is that simple. I had an average of one rooster per hen frequently and it's not an issue if you just cull bullies. All the birds shared two main roosting cages, with smaller cages used for some mothers who I didn't think could handle the crowd.

    No amount of space will stop a bully from finding victims to bully.
  10. jrvdominican

    jrvdominican New Egg

    Aug 13, 2013
    Thank You for the help. Space it is hard to explain how it is. Here is the number of my birds.

    Chickens: 50 Chicks: 15 ( a lot more coming soon :-D )
    Turkey: 15 Chicks: 0
    Guinea: 10 Chicks: 15
    Duck: 25 Ducklings: 0 ( expecting 40 little ducklings in about 15 days :D )
    Pigeons: 4 Chicks: 1

    Space is Huge with all these birds there is still a good amount of space.

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