my chickens are killing each other

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by lathamallika, Dec 15, 2013.

  1. lathamallika

    lathamallika New Egg

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    Dec 15, 2013
    hi i have 8 hens and 1 rooster i recently added 5 young hens about 2 months old my older hens wont even let them eat and in many cases drawn blood on the new hens i have them separated at present ,i have heard of the pecking order ect but how do i put them altogether without some of them getting killed even my rooster attacks them please help thanks in advance
     
  2. silkiechick1994

    silkiechick1994 Out Of The Brooder

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    Wow sounds like some serious fights going on. I could understand the hens attacking but the rooster too? That seems really unusual to me. Roosters usually do their little mating dance around them but not attack. Have you tried putting them in a seperate cage so they can't fight but still talk and see one another? That way they can get used to each other without the hurting and fighting.
     
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  3. lathamallika

    lathamallika New Egg

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    wow thats unreal i only just posted the thread yes they are separated and can see each other i feed them separate so the 5 new hens will at least eat ,today one of my old hens got into the 5 hens area and was pecking at one of them and drew blood what can i do please help ,by the way i am british and live in sri lanka lovely and warm year round the chickens get lots of rice and papaya,mango and banana as i grow them in my garden plus a stable diet of chicken feed .thank you for such a quick reply happy xmas in advance to you and your family
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    What are actual ages of birds involved? Then we can invoke the terms hen, puller, cockerel, clock, juvenile, and chick. Life-stage is very important in the chicken social system.
     
  5. neatyardian

    neatyardian Out Of The Brooder

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    It seems to me ,That you might want to try separate more aggressive bird from your flock. Not you newbies. I m sure you noticing that not all of your older birds as aggressive as few individuals. Good luck and have fun.
     
  6. lathamallika

    lathamallika New Egg

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    hi yes the old hens are 8 months old the 5 new hens are about 2 months old the rooster is also 8 months old ,my old hens all have a go at pecking at the new hens ,they all huddle together in a corner of my coop too afraid to even move now i stand there 3 times a day to make sure they can eat when i leave the coop the odd old hen has a go again and i can hear them
     
  7. neatyardian

    neatyardian Out Of The Brooder

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    I hate to hear that you have this problem. There is one more thing you should try; relax. Animals do have to go through this . I had very similar issue with goats.my existing goat were very mean to new coming girls. I always tried to " help" my newcomers .than I just relaxed and let nature take its course . Few days later they were best buds. Just relax ; yes they will pick at them , but it will stop . Try not to go there every hour and intervene. One more thing you do have a least 3 sf. Of space per each bird, right ?
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Five older females less than a year old are still pullets but otherwise will behave like hen. Hens and pullets have no reason to be gentle to younger birds

    The rooster at eight months is still a cockerel but approaching age where he will be relatively gentle to young birds. At one year you can call him a cock where should behave much more in your favor.

    The youngest are juveniles (pullets also correct) that will be targeted by anyone outside their group that is larger. Juvenile starts at around five weeks and ends about time first set of adult feathers are in. They are most problematic to integrate if rooster or mother does not have their back.

    Could you setup a creep feeder so the juveniles can eat and avoid being harassed? Simply having two feeders spread out may help.


    Show a picture of your setup.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2013
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    At two months they are still chicks so sex isn’t that important. You’ve probably got a few different things going on.

    Chickens can recognize which chickens are in their flock. Sometimes, not always but sometimes, a chicken will attack a stranger to drive it from its territory. This doesn’t happen all the time but it does often enough for it to be a concern. Housing them side by side for a week or so usually really helps with this.

    Then you have the pecking order. Every chicken in the flock needs to know its social ranking so they can get along peacefully and know who has the privileges. Determining this ranking can sometimes be violent, just like determining ranking in a herd of cattle or a pack of wolves. What normally happens when two chickens that don’t know their relative ranking occupy the same personal space, one pecks the other or somehow tries to intimidate it. If one runs away, things are working as they should. If one does not run away, they may scrimmage or fight. Usually one of them quickly determines they would be better off running away, so it is settled, though there will possibly be repeat reminders and some chasing involved.

    It’s very important that they have enough room to run away or just avoid the stronger chicken to begin with. If they don’t run away, it’s a challenge to the social ranking. That’s why new chickens or younger chickens often seem to form their own separate flock. They are avoiding the stronger chickens to start with.

    A more mature chicken will outrank an immature chicken until sufficient maturity is reached that the chick can force its way into the pecking order. Size isn’t really important, maturity is. With pullets, that is often when they start to lay. Often, not always. They are living animals. Always doesn’t always apply.

    If a chicken gets trapped against a fence or in a corner and does not run away, it’s considered a challenge and the stronger keeps pecking or attacking. Often a chicken, especially a younger chick, will just squat down and take it instead of trying real hard to get away. This can start a frenzy where the other mature chickens start pecking the one cowering. This can draw blood or even result in death. This sounds like what is happening with yours.

    So what can you do? First, house them side by side where they can see each other but cannot get to each other for a week or so. Maybe section off a portion of your coop with wire.

    When you do let them mix, give them as much room as you can. This is critical. They need room to run away and avoid. You can increase the effective “space” by providing places for the younger chicks to hide behind or under. When they are locked in the coop, my younger ones often hide under my nests, which are pretty low to the ground. Something else I often see is my younger ones up on the roosts out of reach of those on the floor of the coop. They are avoiding.

    Provide feed and water in different areas so they can eat and drink without challenging the older chickens. Keeping the immature chickens away from the food and water is a common intimidation tactic to reinforce the social ranking.

    At two months, yours may not be roosting yet. On the roosts as they are settling down for the night is where mine are most vicious to younger birds. Often a hen pretty low in the adult pecking order will go out of her way to be brutal to immature chickens on the roosts. I’ve had chicks used to sleeping on the roosts abandon the roosts and find a safer place to spend the night. Sometimes that can be your nests. I provided a separate roost, a little lower than the main roosts and separate horizontally to give them a safer place to go.

    I normally integrate my brooder raised chicks at 8 weeks, but mine have lived side by side since Day 1 as my brooder is in my coop, I have a lot of room, and they have a separate place to sleep. Often at 12 weeks I move them into my coop to spend the night, but I have a large coop with lots of roosting space and hiding places. I also make it a point to be down there early in the morning to let them out so they can run away and avoid instead of being trapped with the adults. If you don’t have lots of space, you may need to wait until the chicks are much older, maybe close to adult size, before you try to integrate them.

    Good luck! Many of us do this type of thing regularly with minimal problems, but I can’t emphasize enough how important space is. That makes all the difference.
     
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  10. mithious

    mithious Chillin' With My Peeps

    I know someone that is losing 1-2 chickens a day to cannibalism. She moved all the chickens into one coop,( for the winter ) and it's the newbies to the coop that are getting eaten...I know this is a horrible description, but they are being literally eaten to death.

    You have to find a way to make sure, the older pullets are NOT getting into the young pullets cage/area...can you get more wire? or some boards and block off the newer chickens from the older ones, but like you said, they can still see each other? If not, you WILL lose them...they will get killed and eaten.

    How many total chickens in the coop? Do they free range at all?

    Also, finding ways to keep them occupied, helps a bit, until one of them can get at the younger ones...I'm sorry you are having this happen...I assume materials are hard to come by, where you live, but I hope you can try to get the newer ones blocked off enough so the older ones can NOT get at them for a long while...

    Once the 2 month olds get bigger, it will help also...they can protect themselves better once they are the size of the 8 month olds. This is beyond normal pecking order behavior and if not already, will soon be, cannibalism. Once they reach that point, it is near impossible to stop the behavior.

    Best to you and your chickens!!!
     

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