Chicken bullying is common especially when several assertive breeds are integrated together. It normally starts like a simple game of pecking but finally ends up messy.
Bullying can be disastrous and even result in death if not mitigated. Rowdy hens will establish a place on the pecking order and turn on the weak birds.
This assertive behavior has made some farmers loose their birds because of injuries caused. Additionally, some have been forced to incur an extra cost by calling the bird vet to treat wounds emanating from chicken bullying.
In this article, I am going to indulge more on the causes of chicken bullying and how to stop it. This will help you know the cause and the cure.
Why do chickens peck at each other?
Pecking chickens are common in our coops. This will happen easily when there are several chicken breeds integrated together.
However, there are a number of reasons that can lead to this behavior apart from integration. These reasons may include:
- Few feeding and drinking stations
- Wrong integration choice
- New flock member
Stress can trigger flared emotions in chickens. It can make chickens uncomfortable making them become very aggressive and turn on each other.
Stressed chickens will produce loud noises, stop to lay or lay fewer eggs and even have a low appetite for food.
It is good I remind you that changing the chicken feeds can lead to stress.
2 Few drinking and feeding stations
Few feeding and drinking areas will lead to chicken pecking each other. In most cases, rowdy hens will try to dominate a feeder or a waterer until she has a full stomach.
Other hungry birds will try to eat but she will drive them away by pecking. Hunger may drive an opponent to face the bully in order to get a chance to eat.
This can lead to wounded combs, open wounds, plucked feathers and feed spillage.
Chickens are quick to identify a sick fellow in the quarters. They will bully her by pecking and try to drive her away from them.
A sick bird in the flock is always seen as a liability. This because it cannot mingle freely with the others or flee when chased by predators.
This is one of the major causes of chicken bullying. Your chicken breeds will be very uncomfortable when hurdled together in a small space.
Normally, a chicken requires about 4sq feet of space when confined. The same bird will call for more space when ranging in order to roam freely.
Crowded birds will bully each other easily. The weak birds will have nowhere to hide and they will have their heads and backs pecked.
Chickens will easily get bored when confined. This is very common in winter when they have to remain in a heated coop because of the outside freezing temperatures.
Bored chickens will do anything including pecking to break boredom. This will lead to unnecessary mating and pecking at each other.
Calm breeds and young birds will become the victims of boredom. This is because they are easily intimidated and cannot face assertive hens.
6 Wrong integration choice
It will be good to put chickens with the same demeanor together. Calm breeds will easily be bullied by assertive ones and you will not avoid pecking chickens.
7 New flock member
A new member in the flock is likely going to be welcomed by bullying. This is especially if he or she is a calm chicken.
New birds are yet to get used to the new environment and will be intimidated easily. So, now let’s look at the remedies to stop chicken bullying.
How to stop chickens from pecking
There are various control measures that can be taken to prevent chicken bullying. This is important to ensure the safety of each bird in the coop.
Break their boredom
Breaking boredom in chickens is very important. This will help to keep them busy and occupied doing something.
One of the best ways is to hang a cabbage head or other treats like kale. This will not only keep them busy pecking but also supplement their diet with extra nutrients.
Hurl those seeds on the chicken bedding and your hens will do what they love most. However, it is not very advisable to feed chickens from the ground because they can ingest worm eggs.
You can also buy good gifts for chickens like play toys. They will keep them busy playing and pecking instead of fighting and bullying.
Add more space
Crowding is one of the major causes of chicken bullying. Try to create more space to ensure the hens are not congested and live freely.
You can move some birds to your garage or a bathroom that you do not use. Additionally, some extra birds can be sold to create enough room for others.
If resources and space are available, you can expand the size of your chicken coop by building a bigger run where they can fit properly.
Let chickens free range
Allow your chicken’s to move out and free range when the conditions are right. On the backyard, these birds will have enough space to roam freely.
Free ranging chickens will be easier to raise because they will need less food unlike when confined. On their own, they will collect bugs, insects, seeds and weeds requiring only small feeds to supplement their diet.
However, care should be taken before letting chickens to free range on their own. Remember that there are predators for chickens like possums, chicken hawks and raccoons in the woods.
Have multiple feeding and drinking stations
Ensure there are enough chicken feeders and waterers in your chicken coop. This will give all the birds equal feeding and drinking opportunities.
It will ensure that those ranking low on the pecking order eat equal amounts with those ranking on the top.
This will help reduce cases of bullying and feed spillage which can easily happen when chickens are fighting in the coop.
Ensure no stressors
Stress is one of the reasons that lead to chickens picking each other. Try to make sure that your birds live in a conducive environment as much as you can.
Construct your chicken coop properly to deny predators a loop hole to your chickens. Do not let children or baby dogs chase your birds up and down.
Keep your dog confined or chained during the day to avoid careless barks that will easily scare your chickens.
Have isolation pens
Isolation pens will be a good jail for those bullies. They will be confined here for several days where they can see other birds.
These pens can also be used to keep those calm chickens safe and away from the rowdy ones.
Clip those long rooster spurs
Sometimes, roosters will develop long claws on their legs. These claws are called spurs and can cause serious injuries when these males engage in a fight.
They should be clipped just in case your bird is misusing them to bully other chickens. Additionally, clipping those spurs will allow smooth and good walking in your cock.
Cull those that are not willing to change
After you have used all the available means to stop chicken bullying, there may be one hard core who is not willing to change her ways.
Such a bird can be culled by butchering and enjoy the meat for dinner. However, this may not be the best option with your favorite chicken and should be used as the last option.
Chicken bullying is common but need to be dealt with before things get out of hand. Extreme cases can lead to serious injuries or even death.
However, chickens have a pecking order and each bird will try to establish his or her own place. The dominant will remain at the top until a stronger rival manages to ouster her.
Most common victims of chicken bullying are young birds, the sick, the elderly and most calm chickens like the Serama bantams.
Always try as much as you can to ensure there is no chicken picking in your flock. Some can be easily intimidated and result in roosting on trees of flee away and never come back.
Do you experience chicken bullying in your flock? Talk to us.
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