You must be irritated by this kind of behavior that your chickens biting each other. This would be painful for the chickens who are being bitten and for you also. You love your chicken, right?
So you want them to stay together in peace. Like our society, we maintain a class or order. Chickens are also social birds and love to rank themselves in a flock based on their appearance, personality, etc. So there is a pecking order.
Generally, the chicken with low rank in pecking order gets pecked by the upper class or because of stress, crowds, boredom, etc. Separate the birds that peck a lot and make others injured. Check their nutrition, light, and nest to get rid of this problem.
Chickens bite each other and make them sick. If we are aware of the reason behind pecking, it will be easy for us to get rid of it.
Reasons why do chickens peck each other!
Here is a YouTube live video about it with more information. If you’re in a hurry and don’t have enough time to watch videos. Down below, I have written a full detailed article about chickens pecking.
The overcrowded area can be a reason
When there are more chickens, it is normal that they will compete on feed, water, dominance. In the pecking order, the one with a higher rank will not let others drink or eat more than it.
It will take feed first, then the others; this behavior causes pecking. The dominant one pecks the chickens with lower rank to establish dominance over them.
This incident causes repressed chickens to become underweight. It influences cannibalism.
Place some perches for your chickens so that they can relax. The perches should be 45cm above from the ground. It will make space for the chickens if there is a crowd.
The floor size has to be enough for the chickens to roam around.
Boredom leads the chickens to do so
In the winter season when it is almost impossible to go outside because of the cold weather, the chickens feel boring. They cannot go outside; it leads some chickens to peck other chickens.
First, it is occasional, but it is random, they start to wound other chickens with their beck. The affected ones will not go near the ones who peck a lot.
Soon it will be frightened to eat and drink, for this separate eating and drinking place for their safety.
Stress can also be a cause for pecking. When there is an addition of a new member or the death of a member in the flock, they become stressed out.
Predators also give stress. When it is laying an egg, it doesn’t like any disturbance, the environment has to be quiet.
When there is some aberration, it begins to peck each other.
High temperature can be so much distressing for the chickens, that they will be influenced by the temperature to peck each other. Normally how much heat can a chicken take depend on its breed?
Some breeds can take 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit but for a short time, most of the breeds feel comfortable to stay in 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. But with age, the older ones get susceptible to the higher temperature.
They should be kept in a cool place. Overall good ventilation and fresh air is needed for the chickens. Otherwise, they will be more prone to pecking.
Excess light can be a cause
We know that chickens need 14-16 hours of daylight to lay eggs and to keep themselves healthy. But when there is too much light, can it be harmful to the chickens?
Yes, an excessive amount of light can give them stress. The amount of light and its intensity can affect the chickens and make them prone to pecking each other and cannibalism.
Extreme bright lights exposed to a long period can make them aggressive. They need minimum of 8 hours of dark to rest.
In the winter when daylight is not available, bulbs are arranged in the coops,40 w bulb is enough for brood fowls.
Broiler needs 16 hours of light at an intensity of 0.5 – 2 ft./c. Also chickens below 18 weeks need less light than broilers, they need 10-12 hours of light.
Therefore, the difference in lighting hours can seriously make them stressed out.
Injured and dead birds give a push in the pecking
Somehow chickens come to know that a member of their flock is sick. The healthy ones don’t want to take the responsibility, then they peck it, so that they can get rid of the sick one.
Chickens are very catchy of the blood, whenever they see blood on another chicken they go crazy to peck it. This behavior often calls the cannibalism situation.
The healthy chickens become very aggressive towards the injured chickens and begin to harm them more. It’s the chickens’ instinct to peck the injured chicken, even dead chickens. Separate the chickens from the flock.
Food is always an important part of the diet for the chickens. The feed should be packed with proper nutrients, they also need a protein-rich diet.
When there is not enough protein they find them shelf another way to meet the demand. They start to peck each other and often it results in cannibalism.
Protein, sodium, and phosphorus are very important in the diet, and make sure they get sufficient methionine.
Give them some supplements in the afternoon. When they have completed their whole diet.
Count the time they are taking to finish the supplement. It should not take over 15 minutes. Chickens preen themselves regularly.
For this, they use the oil from the preen gland near the tail. If their diet is a deficit of salt, the chickens can overuse the gland, they start to peck at another chicken’s preen gland.
Size of the flock
Flock size can play a crucial role here, we see, when we are surrounded by too many people we hardly know everyone, but when we have few people around us we can recognize them easily.
Chickens are no exception to that. When the size of the flock is big, chickens don’t know each other as a result they cannot maintain a social hierarchy, they can’t show dominance. That means few pecking.
In the opposite case when the flock is small they know each other and maintain an order among them, this leads to pecking in order to establish dominance.
Now the question is how big can be a flock? and the size of the flock that will prevent pecking. Research conducted on this topic showed that 30 chickens make a good flock.
So more than 30 will be a good number for the flocks to not peck each other.
Flocks with a huge diversity
Flocks having a wide range of various chickens can influence feather pecking. Chickens with different ages, different sizes, different breeds, different colors can harm the social order.
They can attack each other out of curiosity. Chickens not having the traits that others have will peck the others.
Some unexpected change
Abrupt changes in the management and weather or environment can be stressful. Some new people or some new chicks in the flock can make them peck.
When you are dislocating some of the chickens make sure that you send some of the old feeders and waterers with them. When they will adapt to the environment and new people then remove the old ones.
Not enough nests
Not enough space will make the chickens feel the stress. Chickens need some space for laying eggs. Enough space will make them comfortable and they will remain calm.
A cloaca is a sensitive place for the start of cannibalism. A confined place for laying eggs will be nice because the cloaca is exposed during laying eggs.
After hearing all these you must be thinking it cannot be fixed or reduced or it would be laborious to get rid of this problem. Here I have got some fix that will help you to do things easily.
How to get rid of the problem?
Enough outdoor access
Chickens must roam around for a healthy life, for that they need space. If they have full access on outdoor there will be less pecking.at least except from extreme cold weather allow your chickens to go outside and enjoy the sun.40 sq./ft. will do good for 1 chicken.
Chickens often compete over food and water. Make sure you have enough waterers and feeders. Chickens will be relaxed when eating because there is enough resource. They will not be interested in fighting.
No restriction on eating
Almost all species fight over food. As the food is the basic need. When there is enough food and waterers and feeders, they will have enough food and remove the food when they have had enough. So that they enjoy the food to the fullest.
Find a way to remove monotony
Chickens have a natural instinct to peck. When they get bored they begin to peck its own species which is harmful. Find an alternative way so that they peck the alternatives instead of chickens.
Arrange some logs or branches or chicken swingers for them, these are their favorite toys. The toys can be very helpful for them to remove boredom and also the weak chickens to run.
You can also hang a cabbage or apple for them to run. Also, spread some grass clippings and weeds so that they will start to eat and dig.
These activities will keep them occupied all the time and they won’t find any time to harm each other.
Give them some entertainment
A radio can play an important role here. Listening to music can be a big relief for the chickens. They will stay calm and won’t peck out of boredom. They probably can go to sleep listening to classical music.
Check them properly
Mites, lice can attack chickens and other chickens can peck the affected one. So check them properly and consult a vet if there are parasites in the chicken’s body.
Investigate the reason for pecking
If pecking is getting dangerous day by day, we need to look for appropriate reasons behind it, is there any new recruitment? Or new members added to the flock? Or it is the environment.
However, I have already discussed many reasons behind it. But it is you, who has to find it.
When you know the disease you can do the treatment very easily and quickly.
Give them bath
Chickens take bath, yes you are hearing this right. But not with water, with dust. They like to cover themselves with dust.so let us know how can you arrange this type of bath.
- Arrange a container with 12’’×15’’×24’’.
- Fill it with soil, sand, wood ash
- They must be loose so that chickens can cover them easily
This bath also with the parasite problem, they won’t catch them.
Separate the worst ones
Separate the chickens that are making much trouble. Pick them from the flock so that there is peace in the flock.
Saddles can be an idea for stopping pecking and also let the feathers grow. It basically covers the back of the chicken so the more it is covered the less chance of its getting pecked.
It is a blue colored antiseptic that is applied to the area which has blood. Chickens are attracted to the red blood and peck that area again and again leading this to cannibalism.
When the blu-knot is applied the area becomes purple and chickens don’t look at the area. It can be reapplied after a few days.
Give them proper nutrition
Check the feed you are giving to your chicken. Make sure it has enough protein. Add some worms and some scrambled eggs to the feed. Low protein levels can lead the chickens to peck.
Separate the sick chickens
The chickens that are injured or become sick can be a big problem for others. Separate them if you want to avoid unnecessary pecking and serious injury.
More nest and housing problem
Build more nests for the laying chickens. So that other chickens don’t peck it. The chicken coop must have enough space.
This product or should I say blinders keep the eyes of the chickens blocked so that it cannot see anything. This is like a sunshade for chickens.
The chicken cannot see what is in front of it but it can see the sides.it can actually help reduce pecking. There are many good reviews of it, so you may buy this.
Ok, now I hope that you got all the answers. But I must suggest something prevent that problem by not making them stress or bored, make enough space and give proper nutrition, if needed use saddles or pinless peepers, etc.