Pecking Problem

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by bobby2170, Jan 6, 2017.

  1. bobby2170

    bobby2170 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi everyone. I had 10 hens who all seemed to get along. Then all the sudden 2 began pecking the rest until one was very bloody. We had no choice but get rid of them. Everything was peaceful (except a hawk getting one) until Two more began pecking. They pecked one hen who later died from infection of the wound. We had to get rid of them today. We are down to 4 hens. I'm just wondering if the same pattern will continue until they're all gone. Would it be best to simply get new chicks and start over? This is my first flock so i've never had this happen before. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Most pecking is caused by deficiencies and boredom. Some more information is needed to help determine the reason. What do you feed them? What is your set up like and what do your hens do all day?
     
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  3. bobby2170

    bobby2170 Out Of The Brooder

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    we have a 80 sq ft run and a 48 sq ft gen house. we usually put leaves or scratch in the run in the morning for them to scratch all day and we let them out most evenings. we feed them layer pellets
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Do they have the layer pellets free feed always available?
    Layer feed is usually bare minimum protein for layers(~16%)...the scratch is diluting that protein further.
    The protein percentage is in the fine print on the tag sewn into the bottom of the feed bag.

    What 'leaves' are you feeding them?

    I like to feed a flock raiser/grower/finisher 20% protein crumble full time to all ages and genders, as non-layers(chicks, males and molting birds) do not need the extra calcium that is in layer feed and chicks and molters can use the extra protein. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat. I do grind up the crumbles (in the blender) for the chicks for the first week or so.

    The higher protein crumble also offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer. I adjust the amounts of other feeds to get the protein levels desired with varying situations.

    Calcium should be available at all times for the layers, I use oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.
     
  5. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    The most likely stimulus to feather pecking is environmental stress or the lack of opportunity of a chicken to perform its innate behaviours (dust bathing, foraging are examples), or performing them and not getting the expected rewards from doing so. Both can lead to displacement behaviours - feather pecking being one.

    It could well be that the whole flock as now adopted this displacement behaviour. Initially, your run size was only suitable for max 8 birds and the stress may have resulted in the initial round of feather pecking. Keeping them "occupied" as much as possible may help.

    I see that many chicken keepers here on BYC up the protein level during winter. No harm in doing so.
     
  6. bobby2170

    bobby2170 Out Of The Brooder

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    okay i'll look into the extra protein feed. their food is in the hen house so it's always available. we usually spring oyster shell in the run for them to peck at.
    my dad, brother and i are going to build onto our run this summer to add more space for them. these 4 seem okay with each other and haven't pecked at all, so hopefully if we get more chicks they'll do the same! thank you all for your advice!
     
  7. bobby2170

    bobby2170 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi guys. today we woke up and two of our hens were pecking another. i'm about ready to give up on this flock. we've given them plenty to do in the cold, and we're feeding them feed that's 24% protein. has the flock just developed this behavior? i don't know what to do.
     
  8. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    It can take a few weeks before the extra protein helps. If you aren't attached to them than culling them and starting over isn't a bad idea. Once pecking is learned it can be hard to stop.

    Raise your next chicks on starter than either keep them on a non medicated grower or switch to a higher protein feed like an all flock or a game birds, especially when feeding extras and scratch daily. If you choose to feed layer than nothing extra, and during a molt switch to a higher protein.

    You never mentioned the breeds of your hens, but higher production breeds can become protein deficit within a few months of the start of lay, so keeping up the protein will help prevent troubles.
     
  9. bobby2170

    bobby2170 Out Of The Brooder

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    okay. i have a neighbor with a farm who said he'd be happy to take our hens in. we're probably going to give him them and order some new chicks. thank you for the advice! i'll post again if anything changes.
     
  10. bobby2170

    bobby2170 Out Of The Brooder

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    one last question. if we would get a rooster, would he keep the hens in line and stop them from pecking?
     

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