Chickens have a natural pecking order and there are a variety of Living scenarios that have a tendency to instigate pecking problems. Chicken Bullying / Feather Pecking / Vent Pecking. Here are some of the Root Causes and common-sense solutions.
If you’ve ever been to poultry farms such as the Nelson poultry farm in Manhattan, the A-Poultry in Winter Park, Florida, or just any other poultry farm, then you’d notice that it’s almost a common phenomenon for chickens to peck at each other. And while this may seem like a norm in most poultries here in America and beyond, it is a bad habit that can most definitely be stopped. So today, we will be having a quick look at some of the ways a poultry farmer can stop their chickens from pecking at each other. But before we get into that, lets first have a better understanding of why these chickens, engage in such gruesome habit in the first place.
Why Do Chickens Peck at Each Other?
There are several reasons why chickens peck at each other and these include; They are a social Breed. They fight over ranking in the flock. This is where the term ” Hen Pecked” where the hens peck the male, rooster.
Pecking order comes in groups, Hens, Roosters, Roosters, and Hens, In Very large flocks there will be many groups of pecking orders.
Lowest in peck order size is usually from 15 – 20 in a number of chickens in the hierarchy, The lowest on the totem pole can get pecked by everything. What can Trigger a fight
- Wrong Nest Box
- Everything they can fight over
Peking each order is a natural process. It is the process where chickens structure Ranking order in the Coop. Who gets to eat first, who gets the best Box, Who’s been there the longest, usually older hens. Telling Everyone who is in Charge
Chickens will also peck at each other from boredom. Just having something to do they will fight and peck at each other. Below we have listed some ways to provide alternatives to decrease Boredom.
Find Creative ways to provide the entertainment
Natural Texture and Appearance
One of the reasons why chickens peck at each other is because of the natural texture and appearance of some of their features like feathers. Feather pecking, for instance, which is when one chicken pulls out a feather off the other chicken, is a destructive habit that can lead to a risk of skin damage.
However, feather pecking isn’t only limited to chickens, as most breeds of the bird family such as turkey and so on are also guilty of this habit. And feather pecking is always found amongst commercial chickens raised in less spacious quarts, which then takes us to the next cause.
Overcrowding is one of the main factors why chickens peck on each other. This is because, in an overcrowded poultry setting, where all the chickens are kept in one confined space, it is often a reality for a competition to grow amongst the chicken, which often leads to the habit of pecking one another, in the battle of supremacy. So, ensure to take proper measurement of the poultry house’s inches and feet, in resonance with the volume of chickens you’ll be raising, so as to avoid overcrowding.
Other than overcrowding and the natural appeal of their features, overheating is one way to encourage chicken pecking in your poultry. This is because higher temperatures will force the chickens to become uncomfortable, and thus, become more open to pecking one other. For instance, if you keep your young brood fowls, which are supposed to stay at an environment of about 95 degrees during the first week, in a temperature higher than that, let’s say, 110-115 degrees, you can rest assured that those fowls will start pecking at a very tender age.
Too Much Light
Same way with heat, having too much light shining in their faces could cause them to become more hostile, thus making them prone to pecking at each other. Put differently, exposing them to non-stop light rays for about 16 hours or more in a day, is undoubtedly going to stress them out.
Studies have linked a deficiency in chicken’s dieting pattern, to the growth of cannibalistic traits such as pecking at one another. That’s why poorly feed chickens are often more susceptible to engaging in bad habits like pecking, more than the well-fed ones.
So, now that we’ve known the causes, how can a poultry farmer stop their chickens from pecking at each other?
Broody Hens will Peck
HOW TO STOP CHICKENS FROM Feather PECKING
Long story short, chickens will start to eat each other if they are not getting the proper nutrients from their food source. So, see to it that you feed them regularly with appropriate diets. Plus, you should do so on the floor, with litter (bedding material) cover on top of it, which invariably will decrease their tendencies to peck at each other.
This principle is important because, even when food is readily available, chickens still have the natural urge to peck around for food particles that are off the coop. And if you don’t raise them in an environment that allows for this, like the type with some bedding material, it will leave them with no other choice than to start pecking at each other.
Anti Pecking Spray
- Pick no More
- Rooster Booster Pick no More
- No Pick Feather Picking Spray
- Banixx Chixx
- PBS Hot Pic Anti Pic
- Many sprays and lotions on the market
We have a large list below, but chicken toys will ease chicken boredom and keep them busy rather than pecking each other
Hanging a Head of Cabbage –
They peck at the hanging cabbage, then play keep away with the falling cabbage leaf, Pecking and chasing it rather each other
Chicken Feed Ball / Tree
This is a compacted ball of chicken feed/seed. it is compacted and held together by hard molasses or some king of the edible compound.
Take Off Wounded or Dead Ones
Whenever a chicken is wounded or injured, you should immediately take it out the poultry space because, again, chickens are naturally very curious, and won’t hesitate to start pecking on the red injury spots of the wounded one, thus imbibing the habit, and then using it on others. So, always ensure you take such chickens off as soon as possible.
Severe chicken pecking can lead to cannibalism. They can literally peck at a chicken until it bleeds, then many of the chicken’s peck at the sight of blood and kill the chicken
Separation of Groups
Another way to stop chickens from pecking at each other is by separating them based on age, color, breeds, and putting them in different coops. This way, there won’t be a state of chaos amongst the chickens when their struggle for supremacy begins as a result of mixing different ages, colors, and breeds in one space. And as I said earlier, conflicts like these amongst chicken often lead to pecking.
If pecking starts to become aggressive, then you need to start by looking for reasons why the birds are acting out. Is the environment, okay? How many chickens do you have in the area? Does it fall within the appropriate ratio? There are many reasons for pecking that we have already discussed, so you need to identify the problem. Once you identify the problem, then you need to resolve it. Once you do that, then the problem might go away.
One of Your Chickens becomes a target and has had some of her feathers pecked off. Then the Blood, red color compounds the pecking. You need to separate the one pecked on. Put Her in an isolation Pen and let her heal up.
Chickens are Omnivores, meaning they will eat meat also, that is why they are attracted to blood.
Once the Chicken is healed up, normally it not a target anymore, feathers have grown back
Some farmers have experienced where the larger Hens, Bully the smaller chicks and do chase them away from the feed. You can modify a Feed Set Up where you build an opening where only the little guys can get the feed they need. Physically preventing the Older Hens from chasing them off.
Last but not least, given that chickens will always be chickens by pecking around either on the floor or themselves, you can distract them a little by installing toys around their coop, which is going to take their mind for some moment off pecking the floor or one another.
Some of these toys which you could get from amazon include the BESTSELLERVehomy Chicken Perch Chicken Wood Stand Chicken Toy for Hens Handmade Chicken Swing, the Vehomy Chicken Perch Chicken Wood Stand Chicken Toy for Hens Handmade Chicken Swing, and so on.
- Hanging Toys – Not plastic / they might eat when it is pecked apart
- Pop can with couple small stones in it
- Red hanging items – They peck at Blood
- Switch out toys for a variety
- Peas and corn frozen in Ice balls – something to do and cools them down
- Add Hay and then Black sunflower seeds they have to dig for keeps them busy scratching for the seeds
- Chicken swing
- Flock Block
- Suspend small Piece of plexiglass – chickens peck their reflection
- Plastic balls with holes in them fill it with seed. as they move it, it dispenses feed
- Eat the Bully
Free-Ranging Your Chickens
When you free range your chickens, they have a lot more space, spend their time investigating, scratching, exploring, looking for bugs, scratching apart animal feces looking for parisite eggs, chasing bugs, butterflies, etc,
This greatly lessens the problem of Chicken Pecking
In a nutshell, chicken pecking, although a common habit amongst chickens, can be stopped if one applies the necessary measures as listed above. Try them out, and let us know how well they panned out for you in the comment section below.
Chicken / Poultry Breeder Associations
|US Poultry & Egg Association||United States||USPA|
|American Poultry Association||California||APA|
|Ohio Poultry Association||Ohio||OPA|
|National Chicken Council||United States||NCC|
|British Poultry Council||United Kingdom||BPCE|
|Poultry Club of Great Britain||United Kingdom||PCGB|
|Association of Poultry Breeders in EU||Europe||AVEC|
|Australian Chicken Meat Federation Inc||Australia||ACMF|
|Australian Poultry Hub||Australia||Poultry Hub|
How to Stop Chickens from Pecking You
If You find that Your Chickens are pecking at you when you feed them, here are some suggestions
- Peck the Aggressive Chicken Back
- Need to Establish Yourself as the Head of the Pecking order. You need to be the Dominate Hen
- Squit them with water from a spray bottle to punish bad behavior. Water will not hurt them, but greatly annoys them
- Small stick, one peck one small swat
- Grab and hold chicken until it submits – it will scream and fidget, but subdue it
- Hold Chicken to the ground by putting pressure on its back, do not hurt it but hold it there until it surrenders