Suggestions?? Pecking issue - I can't pinpoint the cause

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Shannin, Mar 8, 2013.

  1. Shannin

    Shannin Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 6, 2012
    Highlands Ranch, CO
    I am having a pecking issue with my chickens and wanted to get your thoughts on how to rid the issue quickly

    I have 4 chickens, all 39 weeks old: 1 Buff Orpington, 1 Welsummer, 1 Dominique and 1 Easter Egger. They have been raised together since they were a day old.

    They have all started laying eggs in the last 4 weeks in the following order: Welsummer (4 weeks ago), Easter Egger (3 weeks ago), Orpington (last week) and then the Dominique (just this week).

    2 weeks ago the Easter Egger was pecked horribly on her back, right above her tail feathers. It was an open bloody wound with no feathers left. I separated her from the flock and have been treating the wound. It is healed but I have not introduced her back in yet as she doesn’t have any feather on her back and I assumed the other chickens would continue to peck at her.

    Last week I noticed the Welsummer and Dominique were showing signs on their backs being pecked too but no open skin or blood. Until this morning. The Dominique has been pecked to a bloody wound just like the Easter Egger.

    The Orpington is clearly the culprit and she has no signs of her feathers being pecked. This was really a shock to me as she has always been really sweet and has shown no signs of being aggressive with the other birds at all. She is the largest bird in my flock. She is really just a fluffy lap chicken and my favorite chicken just became a bully!!

    Today I separated the bully Orpington in the garage, put the wounded Easter Egger in the enclosed run and left the other 2 girls out in the yard. I know the Dominique has a wound but the Welsummer is her friend and doesn’t seem to peck at her.

    I wanted to get your suggestions on how to fix this issue as I am running out of spare space to separate everyone. Below are some details on their environment, thought it might help isolate the issue.

    • Enclosed Run: 10 x 4 = 40 square feet her bird
    • Coop: 4 x 4 = 16 square feet her bird
    • They are usually out in the enclosed run daily, I let them out when I get home from work until dark and they are free range in the yard every Saturday and Sunday all day.
    • They are given hidden treats and toys to occupy themselves however they don’t really seem interested in the toys
    • They all have recently started laying and I have read this causes some confusion in chickens??
    • Their nest box is one long rectangle but I do not have separate boxes for each girl (issue??)
    • I feed them layer pellets, Purina Layena, 16% protein. They get scratch for treat and meal worms.

    Any thoughts??
  2. marvun22

    marvun22 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 8, 2012
    North Dakota
    i occasionally have that problem but i dont have to worry because i have enough birds where no one gets extremely hurt. this makes me assume that of course your orpington is at the top of the pecking order. my chickens occasionally just peck a certain bird once so they get the treats instead of that bird, but for the most part the food should be no problem. if your buff orpington wants to hatch her eggs and she feels like the other birds are interfering with that by sitting in the nesting box that could be the problem. there are plenty of birds that in the world that are nice to people and mean to chickens, so she could be one of them. and do you know where the bullying is taking place. if its in the coop, the bird might just be needing more space. i dont think that is the problem if its happening in the run or outside the run. hope i helped.
  3. Shannin

    Shannin Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 6, 2012
    Highlands Ranch, CO
    She pecks them everywhere - I have seen her peck them in the coop, in the run and out in the yard.

    I had always thought that my Dominique was at the top of the pecking order as I occassionally see her putting the little Easter Egger in her place. The orpington really has never shown any care or control over the other birds until just recently.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2013

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