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pecking each other bloody

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by lori, Mar 18, 2007.

  1. lori

    lori New Egg

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    Mar 18, 2007
    Knightstown, Indiana
    I have had the same chickens for about a year now and everything has went real well until the last couple of weeks and they have started plucking each other's feathers until they are bloody, the hens are even plucking the rooster. Why would they turn on each other like this? What can I do to fix the problem?[​IMG]
     
  2. CarriBrown

    CarriBrown Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    There are a lot of reasons...
    They could be bored, too hot, not have enough space, not have enough protein, etc etc. Usually the problem starts with one chicken picking on another, and once they get the taste of blood, they don't want to stop. Then the original picker teaches the others to pick by example, and you have yourself a problem.
    Is there one particular one that is picking the most? Try removing that one from the group.
    Give us a little more info like how many chickens, what kind, what size their coop and run space is, what you are feeding them, etc. and we might be able to pin point it.
     
  3. bigzio

    bigzio Overrun With Chickens

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    Jan 20, 2007
    Wisconsin
    lori, I agree with Carri. If they have space and are not crowded they prolly aren't getting enough protien. Dry cat food given as treats really helps with the protein issue.

    Farm stores sell a product called Blu-Kote, a spray that works well on any blood colored feathers. It is Antiseptic- protctive wound dressing that is germicidal- fungicidal that is a must for the chicken medicine cabinet.

    bigzio
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2007
  4. lori

    lori New Egg

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    Mar 18, 2007
    Knightstown, Indiana
    Thanks for the replies. We have 5 New Hampshire Reds (hens) 5 Rhode Island Reds (hens) 1 Rhode Island Red rooster 5 Black Sexlinks (hens) 5 Plymoth rocks (hens), and 2 Americana's (hens). Not real sure about all the spelling on those but they are in a 12 ft. x 24 ft. coope. Completely covered with 2 tins walls and 2 open walls covered with chicken wire. The boredom thing may be a issue because we were letting them have free range of the property until they decided our 11.5 acres wasn't enough and thought they would start visiting the neighbors, which don't enjot thier company like we do. We are feeding 16% layer crumbles, with scratch feed throwed around. I have a tray of cracked oyster shells. We get about 16-18 eggs a day. No one I know goes without eggs. lol. What are some things I can do about the boredom? I will try the cat food idea too. Thanks again for your help.[​IMG]
     
  5. CarriBrown

    CarriBrown Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Take a head of cabbage and hang it from the top of the run or coop. It will take forever for them to pick it clean since cabbage is very dence, plus with it hanging, it won't exactly hold still when they pick at it. Just one idea.
     
  6. Barnyard Dawg

    Barnyard Dawg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 7, 2007
    Northern California
    I have never experienced any chickens pecking another and drawing blood but have observed the normal pecking to establish their order. I feel that if a chicken was excessively picking on another chicken we would cull it out of the flock, that is just my opinion and action I would take.
     
  7. lori

    lori New Egg

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    Mar 18, 2007
    Knightstown, Indiana
    It isn't just one doing the pecking, from what I have been able to tell about half of them are doing it. The other half are the ones getting pecked. I don't have enough cages to split all of them up. The ones that are pecked raw I have put in a cage together away from the rest and treated them with Blue coat and letting them heal over before putting them back with the rest.
     
  8. Barnyard Dawg

    Barnyard Dawg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 7, 2007
    Northern California
    The act in which chickens establish social dominance is called "pecking order". Pecking order in chickens is a natural behavior in which status determines which birds eat first and have right of way privileges. Excessive pecking can lead to bleeding sores and even death if allowed to get out of control and is referred to as cannibalism. Cannibalism can be difficult to stop once it begins so prevention is the best and most successful treatment. Controlling cannibalism can be achieved by not crowding the birds, keeping light levels reduced, providing adequate feeder space, and insuring proper nutrition through a well balanced ration.
    Be sure to maintain good air quality and alleviate other conditions that may be stressful for the bird. It is also important to have adequate nesting space, (4-5 hens/nest) with reduced light intensity. Furthermore, be sure to have dry litter; wet litter will damage feather quality, allowing greater damage from pecking. Your last resort could be beak trimming which I would hope never gets that far. After this procedure, the chances of injury due to pecking is markedly reduced, but does not impair the birds' ability to consume feed. Are your chickens able to free-range?
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2007
  9. birdlover

    birdlover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    Northern Va.
    Hi Lori,
    I'm sorry about all the pecking; I know it must be a real worry. If I'm doing the math right, you have 23 standard size birds in a 12' x 24' coop, is that right? I can't remember the rule of thumb for square footage per bird but I'm pretty sure you don't have enough in your case. Somebody who knows how to figure it out can give you further info. If it were me, with over eleven acres, I'd take a big ol' roll of chicken wire and try to create a large (maybe even an acre) fenced in area to give them opportunity to scratch and peck bugs and spread out. It's a shame they can't free range because they go to the neighbors! Silly birds! Good luck,
    Ellen
     
  10. lori

    lori New Egg

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    Mar 18, 2007
    Knightstown, Indiana
    No the birds can't free range because they won't stay home. I hate the thought of cutting thier becks, I think I would give them away first. We could extend the rest of the lean-to on the back of the barn and it would give them about three times the room. We have 8 nesting boxes for them and two rails for roosting. They only use one of the rails. I guess they feel safer closer together at night. Our Choc. Lab babysits them and does his usual rounds to check on them and the turkey. Our cat loves to wait by the food trough , waiting for his next mouse. The food trough is about 8 ft. long. To buy enough chicken wire for an acre, not to mention the lumber would be a real high cost. I would have to enclose it or they would fly right out.
     

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