my hens are pecking at the butts of the other hens.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Miss Debbie, Oct 2, 2008.

  1. Miss Debbie

    Miss Debbie New Egg

    Oct 2, 2008
    Need some help!! They killed a hen yesterday. They seem to peck at her butt till they are dripping blood. Are the lacking in something? Am I not feeding the right. I took the bloody hen out of the cage and let he wander around today but can use some help. Thank you
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2008
  2. highmountainchick

    highmountainchick Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 26, 2008
    Currently, what are you feeding them? Do you think they are too many together in a confinded sapce?
  3. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    Also, how old are they and what breed?
  4. Miss Debbie

    Miss Debbie New Egg

    Oct 2, 2008
    Thanks for the reply. I have 3 breeds Barrel Rock, Golden Comet and not sure what the other breed is. The coop is appr. 50 square feet. 5x10 8ft high. outside pen 160 square feet pen that is enclosed and we have 28 hens and 1 rooster in it. I feed the corn, oats and pellets and also some oyster shell. I just started putting some salt in the water because someone suggusted that. I bought them this spring and they were a day old.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2008
  5. Jenski

    Jenski Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 17, 2008
    Middle Tennessee
    I have understood that salt can kill hens, so you may wish to check on this pretty quickly to make sure.

    If you want, you can put electrolytes in the water, though ~ you can order online or pick up at your co-op. McMurray also makes a good vitamin supplement called Avia Charge 2000.

    This sounds like a boredom/overcrowing activity. Some breeds/individuals are just more likely to pick, as well. Cannibalism is a nasty habit, and very hard to break once it starts. Nasty way for a chicken to die, too.

    Some possible solutions ~

    * immediately remove injured chickens and apply Blu-Kote or other antibacterial to wounds until healed. Only return to pen when completely healed.
    * use no-pick spray on potential victims. Use pine tar as last resort.
    * increase ranging space (may not be viable option)
    * provide things to "chew" on -- pumpkins, melon rinds, large squash, cabbages (even hung on string to make it more interesting). There are even seed bars made for this purpose ~ you may want to Google it. Look at the pen ~ is there anything interesting to do in there?
    * provide places for chickens to hide/escape/roost. We have perches in the run, as well as wooden "stools" they can run around or sit on/under so it kind of breaks the chasing up.
    * watch carefully to see if you can determine the "predators" ~ if it is only one or two, you may wish to cull them. I personally would remove them.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2008
  6. Jenski

    Jenski Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 17, 2008
    Middle Tennessee
    You also mentioned a 160 square foot pen ~ I am the worst at math, but is that around 12.64' x 12.64'? Did I calculate that correctly? If so, that may not be sufficient space for 28 chickens to live peacefully.
  7. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    I believe the biggest and possibly sole issue is the small space for that amount of chickens. A 50 sq. ft. coop should have no more than 12 to 13 standard size chickens. You have more than double that amount.

    The run, at 160 sq. ft. has room for 16 standard size chickens.

    I think your best solution is to either immediately build a much, much larger coop and run or rehome most of your chickens.

    Sorry, I hope you can quickly resolve this issue for your chickens health and your peace of mind.
  8. chickenfever

    chickenfever Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 22, 2008
    Sounds like you may have too many birds in that coop as well. The general rule is 4 square feet per bird. For 28 birds you would need an area that was about 112 square feet.

    edited to say sorry, didn't mean to repeat what was just said, I posted too slow.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2008

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by