Killing each other.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by scrambledmess, Aug 28, 2010.

  1. scrambledmess

    scrambledmess Songster

    Sep 26, 2008
    NW Ohio
    I bought from TSC last spring. I have several mixes of the red, white and black variety. I had 4 whites, 7 blacks and 15 reds. Suddenly, the hens have decided the black chickens must die. I have lost one, another is bloodied badly (nursing it) and a third is missing all her tail feathers and is going down the road of being severely hen pecked. The rooster (only rooster and black) is also missing feathers.

    I found a small coop for sale on craigslist and am going to get it today to remove all the blacks. But why would they be doing this?

    All hens are laying now. I have a 12x12 coop and 2 runs, sizes 20x10 and 10x6. I can understand if it is too crowded, but way only the one color?

  2. Rooster Cogburn

    Rooster Cogburn Songster

    Aug 12, 2010
    S.W. Washington State
    I know that overcrowding can cause that behavior. No clue why some are targeted but you should separate them asap when they are really causing injuries.
  3. scrambledmess

    scrambledmess Songster

    Sep 26, 2008
    NW Ohio
    Well I picked up a new coop that supposedly held 7 birds. I don't think it is large enough. I put the seriously injured one in it after putting that purple stuff all over her. I put two others who have had most of their back feathers pecked off in with her.

    I was really hoping someone would have had a little insight into this problem [​IMG]
  4. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Your birds are overcrowded and bored. They may also need a higher protein content in their diet. It is probably coincidental that the black birds have been targeted, or they may be molting and have more blood feathers.
  5. ve

    ve Songster

    Jan 27, 2009
    Palmetto GA
    Your chickens need more space and vitamines.Separate them or put pinless pipers (sp) (from eggcartons. com) on peckers.Babie vitamines with no iron(liquid ones from Walmart) in wather and sunflower seeds will help
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2010
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I have no idea why the black ones are the ones being picked on. It is starting to seem more than a coincidence from the way you describe it. Some breeds are more docile than others and may be further down on the pecking order. Buff Orps have that reputation and it is true in my flock. It's the only thing I can think of as to why black is the preferred color.

    You have 144 square feet in your coop. By the normal recoomendations on this forum, you should only need 104 square feet for 26 chickens, so you have about 40% more coop room than you should need. You have 260 square feet in the runs which exactly meets this forum's normal recommendation of 10 square feet per chicken in the run. Since they are two separate runs, maybe something in the configuration makes them less effective? I don't know.

    Boredom can cause this type of behavior. You might try hanging a head of cabbage or something they can peck at, especially if they have to jump a bit. Maybe add a couple of places for them to perch or maybe something they can hide behind. Maybe throw some scratch on the ground where they have to scratch to find it.

    If they are too hot they can get aggressive. Make sure they have some shade to escape the heat if you have had weather anything like i have this summer.

    One or two extra places for food and drink might help cut down on conflicts. Bullies will keep other chickens away from the prime food and drink places. Having extras cuts down on potential conflicts.

    It is probably one or two hens that are into feather picking that are causing the initial damage. Chickens are cannibals and if one is imjured and starts bleeding they will all eat her alive. If you can identify the one or two causing the initial problem, take them out of the flock for about a week. When you put them back with the flock they will have lost their place in the pecking order and will be so busy trying to regain their social position that they may quit picking on the others. If you can identify the troublemakers and removing them temporarily does not work, you may be better off removing them permanently. I had to do that with an egg eater recently. I did not enjoy doing it but my flock is better off without that egg eater teaching my other hens to eat eggs.

    Lack of sufficient protein can cause them to eat feathers. 16% layer should have enough protein if that is all they are eating, but if they are eating a lot of other food instead of just layer, you may need to add extra protein.

    That's about all I can think of. Sometimes it is not an easy problem to solve. Good luck!
  7. scrambledmess

    scrambledmess Songster

    Sep 26, 2008
    NW Ohio
    I will try to figure out who is doing it. Thanks for the replies. I had put up several branches in the runs to help with perching. I have a waterer in each run and in the coop. I feed on both sides. I haven't been feeding from a feeder. I always throw it on the ground. They get most of our left-overs from the meals of the day, all the garden scraps.

    I am thinking it may be the molting, as said above, since it is all the same "breed/color" that is loosing feathers. Perhaps a pecker (can't help but laugh at that) got hold of a blood feather and we know what would happen from there. I will try to determine which of the gals are doing it. With the new coop, it should be easy to seperate now.

    Thanks for the insight!!!

    I have been mixing layer with scratch for feeding. I thought with as many table scraps as they get, it would be find. Perhaps not. So, I am going to go back to straight layer pellets too.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2010

  8. Amy's Animals

    Amy's Animals Songster

    Jul 8, 2009
    Southern Oregon
    I would suggest getting a feeder and putting it inside the henhouse so they have unlimited access to those layer pellets.
    I know many people just like throwing the feed on the ground but I believe a lot of it is wasted that way, especially in wet weather, and it can attract varmints and wild birds. As for mixing scratch with layer is like giving a child a choice between candy and veggies, they will eat all the tasty stuff (scratch) first, and so they don't consume as much layer feed as they should. So, if I were in your position, I would first give them unlimited access to layer pellets in a feeder, and secondly I would give them table scraps (just as a little "extra") in the morning (because if there are a lot of table scraps at night, they may not be able to finish them all before dark, which may in return attracts varmints such as coons and rats at night) and then give them a little scratch just before it gets dark (corn gives a little "boost" in energy which will help the chicken stay nice and warm at night). [​IMG] Hope that helps [​IMG]
  9. If you get lucky enough to figure out who the bullies are, Pinless Peepers are available to keep them from eyeing individual feathers to pick out. They worked like a charm on my bullies!
  10. I agree about putting the feed in a feeder. I had been giving mine BOSS as scratch until I found way too much in the sand in the run. This week we had to buy feed and BOSS; I mixed the 50# bag of Turkey/Game Bird feed (24% protein) with a 40# bag of BOSS (15% protein). I use a 10# hanging feeder. They ate more today than any day in the last 6 weeks! They needed to...I'm concerned that some are too thin. The BOSS is great for their feathers...has protein they need...don't think scratch has as much to offer.

    I have a gang of 6 sex links who control the other 16 pullets. The 3 EE's are the lowest on the totem pole and are picked on by EVERYONE and and they are bad about picking on each other! Ladyhawk is in isolation tonight because someone pecked her to the point of bringing blood late today. She just began laying yesterday and Dolly (head hen) did not want her in ANY of the nesting boxes and attack her at one point. I had to pull her off of Ladyhawk. I don't know who pecked her this afternoon but will keep a close eye tomorrow. I am thinking of building a run just for the EE's. Oh, I have 22 pullets in a 21x10 foot is their coop (live in Texas where we do not get snow very often or single digit weather-last time was 1980's)...I need a place that is shaded and screened to protect from predators.

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