When the "Predator" is one of the flock! HELP!!! Canables!


10 Years
Oct 17, 2009
Hi all!
I am on the brink of listing my whole flock on craigslist and just keeping my banties at this point! I've been struggling with egg-eaters within my flock and trying to identify which ones are the ring leaders. They have a HUGE chicken pasture that they share with my two goats...they have fresh water, feed, and I started offering catfood for extra protein. I finally have settled it that the main "ring leader" of the egg eating adventures is my Rooster...so I seperated him and I've been getting eggs again...minus the occassional egg eater here and there. Well, this past week I have a new problem...Chicken Eaters!
That's right...some of my hens!!!...not my Rooster b/c he has nothing to do with this as he is still living seperate. My hens have decided that they like to kill and eat my other younger chickens. The younger ones are a few months old and have been living with flock since they were little babies(with their Mama) Now that their bigger they are totally independent and their Moms(although still in the flock) don't bother with them anymore. Well, since last week I've open the barn door to find a freshly dead and gutted chicken! I have lost 5 young chickens now this way and I am sick to my stomach over it! My barn door stays open night & day so it's not like they get trapped in the barn. I have NO IDEA what to do at this point! I am VERY tempted to sell off my entire laying flock and just keep my banties who don't participate in this type of STOMACHE TURNING behavior!
New birds should not be integrated until they are about the same size as the established flock birds (usually around 14-16 weeks) for exactly the reasons you are seeing. Flocks can be brutal places for new birds. If newbies aren't big enough to run away or defend themselves, they have a very good chance of being injured or killed. And if they are seen bleeding, then they are going to be pecked to death. Chickens must pick at anything red and glistening. They can't help it. It's hardwired into their little brains.

If the newbies are still quite young I would remove them from the flock until they grow out a bit. If they are nearing the same size I would build some obstacles in their run that can be hidden in or dodged around. If you see any birds actively bullying the newbies, separate that bully for a few weeks. Keep your eyes peeled for injuries. If a bird is picked until it's bleeding remove that bird immediately and cover the blood with some Blukote to hide the injury.

Sorry you are seeing the worst of chicken behaviors. It's tough to behold how awful birds can be to each other sometimes. I hope you can resolve it soon.

Good luck.
I am wondering if you have a predator who is not a chicken - maybe a rat?

You leave the barn door open during the night and honestly anything could get in there - cat, rat, weasel, owl.

Have you seen your adult chickens go after the babies? If your adults are killing the chicks - you should be seeing it. When I have a bird who is mean to another - it happens all the time - not just at roost. Mean birds bully all the time.

And I have never, personally, seen a whole flock turn on chicks who were raised with them, by a broody from their own flock. YES - my roosters start chasing off the cockerels between 10-12 weeks, but they do not attack/kill them. I have raised many generations together, and have many broodies who raise their chicks right in with the flock (three different flocks right now, with at least one broody hen with chicks in each).
I agree with others. Probably a predator that works low to the ground (which is why it's getting the smallest birds, as they roost lower).
Sorry about your poor banties.
First i would suggest closing the barn door when you get all your flock in.Make sure you don't have a predator living somewhere in your barn.Set a live trap some place in the barn to help determine if a predator is living in your barn.If you do have a predator in the barn, it may still prefer live chicken and avoid the the trap.Chickens can be brutal,i've see them kill and eat each other at the chicken farm i work at.It may be the work of a predator or your own chickens.I'd start by closing the barn door and see if it helps.Also gamecams don't lie, if you can set one up in the barn, it ma be very revealing...good luck...

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