Vent Pecking

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Leihamarie, Nov 20, 2016.

  1. Leihamarie

    Leihamarie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 28, 2016
    San Diego
    A week ago I integrated 2 pullets in with my 2 slightly older pullets (only a couple weeks older) after full quarantine, and a couple weeks of getting to know each other through a wire gate then free-ranging. The 2 new girls haven't been allowed up to roost with the 2 established girls so yesterday I opened up the nest boxes and re-arranged the coop, hoping that the new additions would mix it up enough to allow the new girls up to roost. It worked with a minimum of pecking last night. Today My established EE has started pecking everyone's vents. She also pulled a feather out of the newbies side and ate it.

    This is a new behavior as of today. They are not cramped or bored, and they have multiple feeding and watering stations for easy access to food and water. The roost is 4 feet long, giving each bird a full foot of room and even while free ranging today, the EE ran across the yard to hunt down and peck another girl's vent on multiple occasions. She even pecked the head Pullet's vent which earned her a sqwauk and a sharp head peck from the dominant pullet.

    The 2 established girls are 21 weeks old, new girls are 18 weeks. No one is laying yet and everyone is on grower feed with daily greens and grit, plus apx 5% treats of mealworms/grubs and whatever they forage out of the yard & garden. There is no supplemental light.

    What do I do? Do I remove the offender for a few days to shake up the pecking order and knock her out of her spot? How do I fix this so I have a cohesive flock?
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Shazam Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Definitely remove the feather picker, that's a horrible habit that can be impossible to break if it becomes established. They can quickly cannibalize each other. I would keep her separated for at least a week where she can be seen but can't get the others. Hopefully after some time she stops it. I've had to cull birds in the past for feather picking as it's a hard one to fix. Otherwise there's a product call pinless peepers.

    It sounds like their diet is okay, but you might need multiple roosts and places where birds can get away from each other. If your coop is smaller you might continue to have problems. Most birds seem to need a minimum of 5 feet of space between the top bird and the bottom bird on the roosts as well as distance between them.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    What is the protein percentage of the grower feed?
    Is she picking at the skin of the vent itself.... or just the soft feathers on the butt?

    How big is the coop and feet by feet?

    4 feet of roost might be fine for 4 established birds.....
    .....but newbies might do much better with a separate roost.

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