Hens Pecking each other bloody!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Lelilamom, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 28, 2013
    I have 20 hens and one rooster. 8x8x6 coop and 24x12x6 attached run. The past few weeks have been extremely cold and they tend to come out to eat and then huddle back in the coop. They have been beating each other up something awful. Almost all of them have bloody wings or tails. I've sprayed them all with blu-kote and keep diligent with the spray so that they don't get worse, but some don't care that their neighbor is purple and just peck and peck at them.

    I can't let them free range - we have a predator problem at the moment.

    Any ideas for dealing for with this?
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2014
  2. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    1. Maybe they are low on protein, or not getting enough feed. So, get the high protein level layer feed, and make sure they always have food out.

    2. give them more things to do/keep busy.

    Go out as often as you can, which should hopefully be at least twice a day, and toss sunflower seeds, cracked corn, or whatever out in the run to tempt them to come out.

    Maybe give them bones to pick clean, mine love chicken carcasses (and no, it won't make them more cannibalistic). This will also help increase their protein levels.

    Some people hang a head of cabbage or kale (or whatever) from a string so that the chickens have to jump up to eat it. Make sure your string won't strangle them.

    You can also give them suet blocks.

    3. Watch them closely. Maybe there is only one that is the main trouble maker. Kill that one.

    4. Can you make a wind free/ snow free spot out in the run for the feeder and waterer? That way they have to walk outside to eat and drink. This will increase their activity, and also free up coop space.

    5. Increase the space of your coop by making it multi-level! This will not only give them more space, but the fact that their home is suddenly different will mix things up a bit.


    Good luck!
    1 person likes this.
  3. gander007

    gander007 Chicken Obsessed

    Big X2 And I do believe Alaskan covered about everything [​IMG]
  4. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 28, 2013
    Hey Thanks for the feedback. We use the high protein layer mash right now, and we supplement with vegetable scraps and crushed egg shells. We go out twice a day to check food and water levels. The food is out in the run, which has 16 feet covered so that the snow and wind stay out of it. Interestingly, the ground where the food and water is (the water is on a water heater so it doesn't freeze) doesn't freeze so the chickens scratch and take dust baths.

    I will definitely try something larger like cabbage or suet. I have avoided for the past few years giving them any meat - I'm not sure why, I just felt funny about it.

    The coop is multi level already and most of the girls tend to stay on the top half all day.

    I thought perhaps it was the rooster pecking, so we watched them for several days and the rooster wasn't the culprit, but several of the girls were picking at eachother. We realized that several hens started to molt (why now?) and once the skin was exposed, it was fair game for anyone nearby to take a hit. Oddly enough, I have two youths who were raised by a broody buff and no one is bothering them or the buff. I also have one Red Sex link who is two years old and happens to be my favorite, who is not molting and no one is bothering her. Coincidence?
  5. jstlitlome

    jstlitlome Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 11, 2013
    I'm fairly new to this, but I've noticed mine start picking on each other when the light it on. I have a red heat lamp that comes on at 20 degrees and off at 30. The lamp makes them irritable, so I keep it off unless its below 0 now and it's helped.


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by