Pullets pecking each other, and it's getting out of control.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by pjbarb, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. pjbarb

    pjbarb In the Brooder

    Mar 2, 2008
    I have 20 pullets mixed flock, they are pecking each others butts and their backs around their tails. I have tried "hot pick, blue kote, I also put cabbage in there as well as forage cakes. I don't want to debeak, and I would have to cull them all to make it stop. I want to try bits but I am afraid I won't be able to get them in properly. (how to hold them down) I know I am rambling but can someone please help...[​IMG]

    Thanks for reading
  2. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    How big of an area do you have them in? Over-crowding can cause them to peck.
  3. pjbarb

    pjbarb In the Brooder

    Mar 2, 2008
    The run is 15 x15 and the coop is attached and it is 5 x 8 the door to the run is always open...thanks
  4. SeaChick

    SeaChick Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    I had this problem..... the short answer is: duct tape! I am not kidding.

    I tried Blue-Kote, vicks vaporub, etc but the others still pecked her.



    (The purple is from the Blue Kote)

    I did a lot of online research and concluded that the root cause was a protein/amino acid deficiency (they were no longer eating worms/bugs since its winter) so I began adding proteins. Black Oil sunflower seeds alone didn't help. They're now getting daily protein in the form of:
    organic organ meats
    organic table scraps of meat & fat
    plain yogurt
    sunflower seeds
    canned tuna
    fish scraps
    and -I think this helps a lot- Avia Charge 2000 in the water.

    The pecking has stopped, except that the one victim hen could not regrow her feathers because they would get pecked out (this was at the start of adding the protein supplements).

    I kept her inside in a dog crate for a while for her skin to heal (also gave her the Avia Charge) but when I put her out they went after the new growth. Tried a "saddle" but it didn't cover enough.

    Here's what worked: DUCT TAPE. No kidding. Just tape it on, overlapping onto the good feathers. it won't stick to the raw skin, which is kind of dusty I guess, just the feathers. Eventually it falls off, I've had to reapply once in the last few weeks. It also adds a layer of cold-protections, especially as the new feathers begin to regrow underneath, like a down comforter. My poor hen is doing well now. The tape will probably fall off in another week or so and her feathers are looking god underneath. I was really at my wit's end before the duct tape and it REALLY WORKED for me.

    Good luck.

  5. Farmer Kitty

    Farmer Kitty Flock Mistress

    Sep 18, 2007
    Generally the recommendation is 4 sq ft. per bird. Your coop is to small. Your run is big to help with that but, are they pecking when in the run or just in the coop? It maybe the stress of a small coop at roosting time. If so try adding roost outside.
  6. pjbarb

    pjbarb In the Brooder

    Mar 2, 2008
    The pecking seems to be happening outside, I peek through the window at night and they are all roosting and sleeping. Outside it seems they just peck each other. I agree it is tight quarters, but the 4 and 6 year olds fight me about giving a few away. I am trying to keep everyone happy. I will try roosts outside I have one 4 foot one now. I hope the warmer weather will help when the kids are outside more and let them roam more. How about bits? will they work? Thank-you all for your time...
  7. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    Is there anyway you can let them out to free range - even if just for an hour or two? They need more space to run, scratch, forage, and generally wear themselves out so they don't take it out on each other. And, as SeaChick said, add some more protein to their diet.

    My chickens are totally free range - returning to the coop on their own each evening and putting themselves to bed - coop left open so they can come and go as they pleased.

    I'm on my 4th batch of chickens - all different ages and not only have they never pecked one another - they don't seem to mind quick introductions of new babies and then the new babies are running with the rest of the big girls.

    The term "cooped up" is associated with going crazy for a reason. These birds are meant to run, forage, fly, scratch all day long - not just for food but for energy, fresh air and sunshine.
  8. pjbarb

    pjbarb In the Brooder

    Mar 2, 2008
    Due to the neighbors I have to be careful how much I let them free range. Like I said in the summer the children are out with them all day because it is nicer weather. I have them out today but, when I return to work tom. is the problem. I appreciate all the suggestions and help, please keep the ideas coming I WILL try them all, and I will keep you posted!![​IMG]
  9. d.k

    d.k red-headed stepchild

    *Seachick, I LOVE your duct tape cure! Lol, so does my auto tech DH, and my carpenter brother! Extra protein is also a good call, I think, at least until they start hunting up bugs on their own again. I used to put a bit of very dense protien dry cat food in my buns ration in the week before & week after they had a litter, and once I started that, never had a problem w/moms cannibalizing their litters again.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2008
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I agree it sounds like crowding as much as anything.

    Any way to create an extension to your run, even if just slapped-together and temporary? There are some designs that are relatively quick and cheap to put together, esp. if you just use them during the day and don't require them to be highly predator resistant.

    Also, if the chickens are really in the swing of picking at each other it might be too late, but you might try giving them other things to do with their beaky bits, such as a bale of straw to kick apart and pick through, or a pile of weeds pulled up root and all (if you are in an area where the ground is not frozen), pr bones from roasts etc after you've made soup from them (they can pick the little bits of meat etc offa the bones), or a couple great big forkfuls of compost pile thrown into the run. Melons from the 'scratch and dent' rack at the supermarket, too, if you see any.

    Good luck,


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