I can't stop them from pecking each other; please help!


9 Years
Jan 19, 2011
Central NC
I'm at my wit's end on this.

A couple weeks ago I had to quarantine my EE pullet, Willow, because she was pecked so severely on her back that she was losing a lot of blood, and quite a few of her back and tail feathers are gone.
At night I put her in a separate cage in my room, and outside I kept her in a pen with her own food and water, and with the other birds so that she could see them and not feel lonely, and so that they could see her, but not peck her.

After a week or so, she started looking better, so I decided to find out who the bully was, and so I let her out with the others for about ten minutes, and watched her. Lo and behold, the bully was Pepper, my australorp pullet and the flock's designated attitude problem. So I took the cage where Willow was being kept outside and moved it to the other side of the yard, and put Pepper in it instead. It seemed like it was time for her to have a little time to herself, so that she'd think twice about bullying her sisters to the point of bleeding. When I intend to let her back out, she should be lowest on the pecking order and less inclined to feel high and mighty and peck at her sisters. She's still in solitary confinement, and her jail time should be over in a week.

Since Pepper is in jail, I thought it was safe to let Willow out with the rest of the flock during the day, and keep her with me in her other cage at night while she continues to heal.

I was wrong.

Since Pepper had been confined, for the past few days the pickings had virtually stopped. Well, while I was sitting outside with them in their fence watching them, I noticed the occasional pecks that Willow was receiving. I'd chased away the offending pullet, checked Willow over and she seemed fine, so I let it go. Then, before I could get to her, five other pullets had cornered her and were pecking the crap out of her back. When I was able to get to her and examine her, she was bleeding again. I have her in the other cage in my room right now, and she's squawking her head off because she's alone. I don't know what to do with her. And I really need that cage for Tess, who is also injured from an unrelated incident. But I only have two cages and three birds to quarantine. Should I let Pepper back out and keep Willow and Tess confined, or do I stick to my guns and punish Pepper at the risk of Willow getting hurt again? I checked at several stores the other day, and they didn't have any cages I could use.

Also, what can I do to keep Willow from being pecked again? She's such a sweet little bird, and I hate to see her being pecked to the point of bleeding. I can understand the occasional bald spot on a lower-ranking hen and whatnot, but not this. I'm so upset I don't know what to do. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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I would take out the hurt chicken to let it heal, for at least 2 weeks. Then I would coat her sore spots with no pick lotion (kind of looks like molasses) as it tastes bad to them.

You can try no-pick lotion or salve, available at feed stores.

Or also, they make pinless peepers (kind of like blinders for chickens) but I have never used them and so cannot say if it would work.

What I have done is to sell off aggressive chickens. I have a no tolerance policy for aggressive hens. But if there is a wound, they all can turn cannibalistic.
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No-pick lotion? This sounds promising, I'll look into it as soon as I can. For the past couple of days things have been okay, but that no-pick salve sounds like it's worth its weight in gold.
I hope I can find some at Tractor Supply.

Thanks so, so very much for your help, I was worried no one would answer.
Of my very first four hens ever, one turned out like your bully. It nearly killed me to do it but I got rid of her. The rest of my original little flock is much happier and I don't regret having done it. I think that when they go above and beyond "pecking order" fighting they should be outta here.
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let the injured hen heal till there is no trace of blood.... if you cant find the no peck lotion try looking for blu-kote it will deter pecking too

make sure they are getting enough protein and make sure there is enough room in the coop.. over crowding will cause pecking issues too.

i had 3 silkies and my other hens pecked them bad at night.. I had to put a dog crate (not a wire dog crate wither) in the coop and at night the silkies had to go in there to be safe and each morning when i opened the girls for the day i would let the silkies out... i just put a handful of shavings in the bottom of the crate, and dumped the dirty stuff onto the coop floor in the morning, sprayed it out when it got bad.. (notice how HAD is bold
You can try Blukote - it may mask the scabbed area.
Make sure your run has ample room - overcrowding is a big cause of pecking issues. Put roosts and some kind of barrier in the run - stump, a wooden box/crate...places where birds who are being bullied can get to, out of the way.
If the bluekote doesn't work, you can try the pinless peepers (do a search on them here on byc).
Make sure they have plenty of protein - they're on formulated feed???
Keep more than one feeder in the run so that lower birds always have access to food.
Good luck with you little EE - hope things work out.
Thanks, guys. I have them on the grower feed, so they have plenty of protein, along with green peas and kale as snacks. Their run and coop are frickin' huge, so they have plenty of room. And I have two feeders and two waterers also. They have plenty of room to get out of each others' faces, but they won't. And they shouldn't be bored; they have plenty of snacks to pick at and grass and bugs to hunt for, so I don't get why they're doing it! ARRGH!

And now it's to the point that everyone is picking at her. It's really making me upset.

I can't be there policing them 24-7, and if I were to get rid of ALL of the ones picking on Willow, then nearly all of my flock would be gone.

I can try the blu-kote and peepers, but I just don't know. I'm so scared of walking into the run one morning and finding Willow dead from excessive hazing. My parents are being annoying too, and won't let me quarantine her anymore, so I can't even separate her so that she can heal now. They're doing the whole 'survival of the fittest' mentality thing, and I guess if it were up to them, Willow would just die.
I'm so frustrated; I feel like it's me against the world, not to be too dramatic or anything.
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As being smack in the middle of the same situation I can tell you that Blukote alone will not work to deter the picking. I used the Blukote and Hot Pick with limited success. The Hot pick needed to be re-applied so often that it wasn't working as well as I thought it should be. I used Blukote and pinless peepers with more success, but the birds can't wear the peppers while free-ranging so I had to remove them. I am currently using Blukote and Vick's VapoRub, but it needs to be re-applied each evening. I am trying to avoid using pine tar, but that is my next step if this current regimen doesn't work. Pine tar is very effective for stopping this type of bad behavior, but the stuff is such a disaster to work with that I will avoid it if at all possible. It is a stinky, sticky, goopy slop that makes a nasty mess of birds' feathers, especially light colored birds. I hate it, but it does generally work. One beak-full of that garbage will stop the picking in its tracks, but this is a case of the cure is worse than the problem.

Good luck. Wish me luck with mine.

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