Pecking behavior

Chickenwang

Hatching
Jul 15, 2020
5
5
8
Hi, I have a rhode island red chicken that we have had since spring of 2020. Just yesterday I noticed that this particular chicken Gertrude was pecking at the rear of the other chickens (I have four total). I'm not sure what the intention was as I noticed she ate a feather that was on the ground earlier in the day. She did this several times while I was out in the run. This morning when I woke I checked the camera that I have in the run to make sure their pop door had opened. Three of the chickens was up on their gym in the run all crowded together which is unusual. I told my son to go out and make sure there was nothing in the run that had frightened them up there as only Gertrude was on the floor of the run. He said as soon as one of the chickens on the roost got down on the run floor, Gertrude like a missile went right for the other chicken and picked at the butt of the other chicken. This is all new behavior as these chickens were bought together as day old chicks. They have previous to this all gotten along together with no bullying behavior. Nothing new has been added or changed to their coop or run other than I moved one of their waterers out into the run as it started freezing and I bought a heated pad to put it on. That was about three days ago. The run is 10X10 feet and they have access all day to the run and the coop which is 4X7 feet. I don't notice any wounds on their butts as they usually run away from her before she gets a good peck. Does anyone have any ideas as to why she is doing this and how to break the habit? Right now she is in a dog crate with food and water in the run. The other chickens can see her and she can see them. I really don't want to have to get rid of her.
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
34,671
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NY Southern Tier
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My Coop
Hi, I have a rhode island red chicken that we have had since spring of 2020. Just yesterday I noticed that this particular chicken Gertrude was pecking at the rear of the other chickens (I have four total). I'm not sure what the intention was as I noticed she ate a feather that was on the ground earlier in the day. She did this several times while I was out in the run. This morning when I woke I checked the camera that I have in the run to make sure their pop door had opened. Three of the chickens was up on their gym in the run all crowded together which is unusual. I told my son to go out and make sure there was nothing in the run that had frightened them up there as only Gertrude was on the floor of the run. He said as soon as one of the chickens on the roost got down on the run floor, Gertrude like a missile went right for the other chicken and picked at the butt of the other chicken. This is all new behavior as these chickens were bought together as day old chicks. They have previous to this all gotten along together with no bullying behavior. Nothing new has been added or changed to their coop or run other than I moved one of their waterers out into the run as it started freezing and I bought a heated pad to put it on. That was about three days ago. The run is 10X10 feet and they have access all day to the run and the coop which is 4X7 feet. I don't notice any wounds on their butts as they usually run away from her before she gets a good peck. Does anyone have any ideas as to why she is doing this and how to break the habit? Right now she is in a dog crate with food and water in the run. The other chickens can see her and she can see them. I really don't want to have to get rid of her.
Can you post pictures of your set up?
What exactly are you feeding your flock?
 

Chickenwang

Hatching
Jul 15, 2020
5
5
8
Sure I am feeding them Natures Best Organic Egg Layer Crumbles which is which says it is 16% protein. They have free access to food all day long. Here are some pictures of the run and coop. I inspected all of the girls and it looks like just one chicken has a wound. Greta had a lot of her feathers removed from her vent down, about a 2.5 inch circle with a little dried blood. Sprayed with Vetericyn and applied Rooster Booster Pick-no-more. But since all the girls were hiding at the top of the roost pole I think Getrude as trying to peck all of them and maybe Greta just couldn't get away or was the target the most? Should I allow the bully to roost as normal in the coop at night? Or keep her in the dog crate in the house?
 

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Oct 19, 2020
17
105
56
Maryland
Sure I am feeding them Natures Best Organic Egg Layer Crumbles which is which says it is 16% protein. They have free access to food all day long. Here are some pictures of the run and coop. I inspected all of the girls and it looks like just one chicken has a wound. Greta had a lot of her feathers removed from her vent down, about a 2.5 inch circle with a little dried blood. Sprayed with Vetericyn and applied Rooster Booster Pick-no-more. But since all the girls were hiding at the top of the roost pole I think Getrude as trying to peck all of them and maybe Greta just couldn't get away or was the target the most? Should I allow the bully to roost as normal in the coop at night? Or keep her in the dog crate in the house?
 
Oct 19, 2020
17
105
56
Maryland
Hi. I’m having the same problem but the hen causing issues is pecking out chest feathers of 2 of my other hens. I have 4 also and they have plenty of space to run during the day. I don’t know if this sounds crazy but Jo, the pecker, her behavior changes around the full moon cycle. Idk if it’s that or she is a bully. I will separate her tomorrow if this behavior continues. But same question do you put her back with other hens at night? Hope you get some answers. Good luck!
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
34,671
282,733
1,642
NY Southern Tier
My Coop
My Coop
Sure I am feeding them Natures Best Organic Egg Layer Crumbles which is which says it is 16% protein. They have free access to food all day long. Here are some pictures of the run and coop. I inspected all of the girls and it looks like just one chicken has a wound. Greta had a lot of her feathers removed from her vent down, about a 2.5 inch circle with a little dried blood. Sprayed with Vetericyn and applied Rooster Booster Pick-no-more. But since all the girls were hiding at the top of the roost pole I think Getrude as trying to peck all of them and maybe Greta just couldn't get away or was the target the most? Should I allow the bully to roost as normal in the coop at night? Or keep her in the dog crate in the house?
I agree with @rosemarythyme and was alluding to the same conclusion that they need more protein when I asked what you were feeding. I would switch the flock over to Flock Raiser (contains 20% protein) with a container or two of oyster shell offered free choice.
In the short term, I would give Greta some canned tuna or other meat for treats during her crating.
Can you put more things in the run for them to dig around in and fly up on? I'm not a fan of sand. It isn't the greatest substrate for digging in and chickens do love to dig around in organic matter looking for goodies to eat.
After about 3 days of high protein treats for Greta and everyone being on their new higher protein feed, let her out and see how she behaves. If she continues to go after her flock mates, try using pick no more on the targets. If that doesn't work, you may need to invest in a pair of pinless peepers to break this habit she's started.
Good luck.
 

Chickenwang

Hatching
Jul 15, 2020
5
5
8
Thanks everyone for the advice! I let Gertrude into the coop last night as she seemed so miserable. She immediately went into a nest box and slept there which I don't prefer but at least they wouldn't be fighting. I watched on my coop camera before the automatic door opened and they were getting along together just fine so I decided to not put Gertrude back in the cage today and just keep a close watch on them. I raided my mealform farm and gave them all the dead beetles and mealworms that were in it. I will go out later today to get some fish. Reapplied the pick-no-more to poor Greta's behind. Does anyone have any ideas on some toys for boredom? They have a string of cranberries in the run to peck at. I have tried a head of cabbage but they ignored it. They also ignored the flock block that I bought (it molded and I had to throw away). I do have to be careful not to put things in the run that would attract squirrels and rats such as seeds. They have actually jumped on my chickens!
 

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