Nasty pecking chooks. Does anyone know what to do?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mandycooney, Feb 10, 2009.

  1. mandycooney

    mandycooney New Egg

    Feb 10, 2009
    Hi there,
    This is my first time on this website. We are chook novices who have five chooks, who free-range around the garden all day, and are locked up in their coop of an evening. The two "boss ladies" are really seriously pecking at the others, in various degrees, pulling their feathers out, and it looks really sore. We have treated them for mites, just in case it had something to do with the behaviour, but there has been no change. When I'm out in the garden with them, I see it happening but don't know what to do about it - chasing the bossy chook only works when I'm actually there.
    Any advice would be helpful.
  2. 2manyhats

    2manyhats Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 18, 2008
    Central NY
    Are the chickens new to each other or long standing coop mates? If they are new, they need to establish the pecking order and the lower ones will learn to get away. It sounds like you are in a warm climate where you can get outside. Mine are pecking because it has been sub zero here for quite a while and they are bored without the ground to play with.

    I heard others suggest scratch grains and I use whole vegies like halved squash to keep them occupied (last years garden remnants).
  3. Chiiiiiiiiiickens!

    Chiiiiiiiiiickens! Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 26, 2008
    Southern New York
    I am also relatively new to chickens. Our eight girls joined us in June and as soon as they reached laying age, they started pecking each other. They seemed to establish their order after about a month or so. Now they pick each other's feathers, but I think this is because they have cabin fever. I put a duck tape saddle on one girl, the lowest on the totem pole, who had lost a lot of feathers, and IT WORKED [​IMG]. Found that tip on this site. I love this site!! Anyway, the problem seems to be on the wain.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2009
  4. Rte.66_chicks

    Rte.66_chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 22, 2008
    Kingman, AZ

    Sometimes pecking is nutritionally based. Feathers are protein, and the ones doing the pecking may be eating the feathers. More protein might be needed. Scratch grains are low in protein, but black oil sunflower seeds are great. Make sure that they have crumbles or pellets available to free-feed, and feed the seeds as a supplement or treat.

    I have two feeders, one with layer pellets, and the other with higher-protein flock raiser.

    Good feed and not being crowded help a lot. After that, it may just be pecking order. I hope they don't do any real damage.
  5. Pink Delphinium

    Pink Delphinium Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 19, 2009
    Sometimes, it depends on the breed. I've found that some breeds are much more apt to do that kind of thing than other breeds. For that very reason, I chose Buff Orpingtons, who are pretty laid back.

    I used to have New Hampshire Reds, who were more aggressive, and sometime even Rhode Island Reds can be aggressive. Barred Rocks are pretty calm, usually. What breeds are you dealing with?
  6. Snakeoil

    Snakeoil Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 10, 2009
    SE Iowa
    I agree with Rte.66, sounds like they are lacking in some vitamens.

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